IVORY BANGLES BY ERIC NG'MARYO - TANZANIA
About the Author- Ng'maryo
Eric Ng'maryo is a published poet who has written poems such as Escape and The Journey of Us. Although he is a practicing advocate in Tanzania, he is also respected for his creative writings which include the short story 'Ivory Bangles'
Points to guide interpretation of the story
THE TITLE 'IVORY BANGLES'
The title captures the bangles that the wife wears- Twenty-four ivory bangles that were gifted to her by the old man on the day their firstborn and now only son was named.
The Ivory bangles thus are a symbol of love that the wife enjoys from the old man.
The title also signifies the human-wildlife conflict that exists. For the old man to carve the bangles for his wife, he had to shoot an elephant with a poisoned arrow to get the ivory he used.
a. The old man
'Ivory bangles' by Eric Ng'maryo portrays a society rooted in some traditional practices that whoever departs from them ends up suffering some calamity. The story begins with a troubled old man moving towards his house. Although his body moves, his thoughts are disturbed by the seer's words.
The old man had consulted the seer after noticing traces of blood in the goat's liver that he had slaughtered. The people believed that such an occurrence was a bad omen, so the old man consulted the tribal seer.
The seer discloses that pebbles demand that he has to give his wife the ritual beating. However, the old man is hesitant to beat his wife, whom he much loves, as is seen from the fact that he had gifted her with twenty-four Ivory bangles that she adorns throughout.
We learn of the old man's life with his wife in the past through several flashbacks. We learn of his refusal to marry another wife even after he is made the chief's councillor, and the chief advises him to do so. The chief appreciates her attractiveness in another flashback as she is adorned in twenty-four ivory bangles.
The old man tells the chief that he carved the ivory bangles for herself using the ivory he shot from the elephant using a poisoned arrow.
When he gets home, his wife warmly receives him and his attempts to disclose the seer's message do not succeed until much later in the night. The wife asks him to have his meal first, and after the two enjoy an intimate moment. When he later discloses the pebbles' message to his wife, she comes up with a scheme on how to cheat the pebbles.
The following day, the old man goes to work while the wife goes to the market, where she hears people talking about a herd of elephants approaching the plains. She strategizes on the things she would do before faking her beating and going back to her brother's home. On her way home, she hears cries from scouts who warn people to beware of the approaching herd of six elephants led by a giant bull.
After getting home, the wife prepares a meal for her husband and decides to go till a piece of the grove that the husband had said was weedy. Unfortunately, she is killed by the bull elephant that catches her unaware. The people find her in a shallow grave after being crushed by the elephant. Her ivory bangles are also shattered. Her foreshadowed death is a lesson that failing to heed wise advice can lead to a disastrous outcome.
EPISODIC ANALYSIS OF KEY ISSUES
Believe in the seer
The old man visits the seer, considered a priest of the people (Pg. 21).
He goes to the seer because of his superstitious nature. He had to consult the seer since he had noted blood specks on the liver of a goat that he had slaughtered (pg. 21).
Ritual beating/molesting of wife
When the old man visits the seer, the pebbles disclose that the spirits were jealous of a happy wife, a woman unmolested by the husband until old age (pg. 21). It is not acceptable for a wife to enjoy a comfortable life with her husband in this community.
The husband is thus expected to molest his wife to ensure that she does not enjoy happiness. Failure to do so would lead to a disastrous outcome as the pebbles foretell the wife's death. The pebbles demand that the old man give his wife a thorough beating (ritual beating) and then send her back to her parents (pg. 22). Although the man tries to seek an alternative way to appease the spirits, like offering several goats, the pebbles insist that he must give a wife thorough beating and send her to her parents after the beating.
The tradition of wife-beating/molestation is further seen through the old man's son. Unlike his father, the son had embraced the culture of wife battering, something that bothers his mother moments before her death. She is weeding the weed- infested grove when she remembers they had weeded the same patch only three weeks before, together with her daughter-in-law Leveri. She reminisces how her son had beaten Leveri to 'a fingernail's distance to her grave' (pg. 25). This shows the violent nature of her son and how traditional he was since he embraced wife- beating.
Naming of children
The naming of children is seen as an essential practice. We learn that the twenty- four ivory bangles that the wife wears were gifted to her when their only son was given a name (pg. 23).
The value of child naming is also seen because the old man's grandson is named after him. The writer refers to the young boy as her 'husband' (pg. 23).
Polygamy and its effects
The tradition of polygamy and its value comes out during the moments shared by the old man and his wife. After serving him his evening meal, the wife patronises the old man by calling him the son of a chief. The writer explains the position held by the old man - the chief's councillor (pg. 22).
This position makes him a respected man. It, however, raises some debate as people talk much about him since he is monogamous. This is seen where the writer says, 'He still was the chief's councillor, much respected, but also much talked about because he had only one wife....' (Pg.22).
His monogamous status was a concern for the ageing chief, who told him to get another wife (pg.23). This shows that the old man's society values the tradition of polygamy, and one who does not engage in it is considered a failure.
The old man, however, holds a differing opinion about polygamy. His response to the chief via a riddle shows his view of polygamy:
A woman went to the riverside
Tie woman wanted to fetch water
The woman had one water pot
The woman arrived at the water point The woman found another water pot
The woman came back with a pot
The woman brought a water pot with potsherds, not water (Pg. 23
The chief's interpretation of the riddle:
"A wife, a co-wife, witchcraft and death" (Pg.23) explains that the old man considers having more than one wife as witchcraft
The moments shared between the old man and his wife (pg. 22-23) point to their love. The kind of reception the old man receives when he gets home shows how much the wife loves and cares for him. 'His wife come unstrapped his leather sandals and led him behind the house to the lean-to, bathed him and rubbed him with sharp smelling unguent' (pg. 22). Her loving care is further seen when she asks him to have his meal first before they can talk about what the husband had heard that day (pg. 22).
How the husband addresses the wife also shows that he loves her. Despite her old age, the husband calls her "girl" (pg. 22), a form of endearment. He also appreciates the meal she has cooked for him. "You cook, woman," he thanked, stretching himself and yawning (pg. 22).
Their love is also seen from the intimacy they share once the wife joins the old man where he lay. rlhe old man tries to talk her about the demands of the seer, but she ignites his pas leading to an intimate moment. 'He unsprung slowly, when it came, it was like an intricate tattoo on a drum, coming unexpectedly and stopping suddenly, leaving the air quiet and pure.'(Pg. 23).
Tie twenty-four ivory bangles that the old man gifted his wife on the day of naming their son also show how much he loved her. Specifically, the eight bangles she wore on either hand were etched with mnemonic marks for a long love poem (pg. 23).
The flashback of the naming ceremony of the old man's wife 'As she moved the twenty-four ivory bangles she wore clanked like many castanets' (pg. 23). Elephants had to be killed to obtain the ivory used to make the bangles.
The truthfulness of this observation is seen when the chief also noted how attractive the old man's wife looked in the many ivory bangles she wore. The old man proudly explains to the chief that he made the bangles himself from the ivory he got when he shot an elephant using a poisoned arrow (pg. 23).
Towards the end of the story, people in the marketplace talk about the herd of elephants approaching the plains. They fear the destruction that the herd will cause. They hope that those who know how to use poisoned arrows will save the situation (pg. 24).
The ultimate sign ofthe conflict is the death of the old man's wife, who a wounded bull elephant kills. In an ironic turn of events, the old man's wife, whose husband had killed an elephant and used its ivory to make bangles for the wife as a sign of love, ends up killed by a wounded elephant. 'After bashing her on trees and banana plants, the wounded bull elephant put her on the ground and repeatedly stamped on her. They found her thus in a shallow grave: a mass of flesh and blood and shattered ivory bangles.'(pg. 25). The love is shattered by the same creatures whose ivory was used to make symbols of love.
FAILURE TO HEED ADVICE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
The seer's advice to the old man who consulted him is that the pebbles demanded a ritual beating of his wife to avert the death of wife. old man is hesitant and offers to give some goats, but the pebbles insist on the beating and send her off to her parents after beating. Instead of heeding the seer's advice, the old man and his wife develop a scheme on how to cheat the pebbles. The wife proposes putting up a show by pretending to have been beaten.
Their failure to follow the demands of the pebbles results in what the seer had foretold-The death of the wife who the wounded bull elephant kills as she is weeding.
Although the wife's death is closely linked to the seer's warning, it can also be seen to be due to the wife's recklessness and failure to heed the warnings of the scouts. The wife heard the scouts warning when they noted the elephants were approaching. 'As she slowly made her way home, she heard the cries.
They came from scouts who were perched on trees, observing elephants and warning people of the beasts' movement... 'Beware! People Of Mtorobo's homestead! The five she elephants are now in your banana grove! The bull is on the path coming from the stream' (pg. 24-25).
The wife chooses to weed at the groove instead of heeding the warning and staying home. NB: The writer has extensively used flashbacks to help us understand the past life of the old man and his wife.
QUESTIONS ON STYLES
A SILENT SONG -Leonard Kibera - Kenya
About the author:
Leonard Kibera is a Kenyan novelist and short story writer. Kibera was born in Kabete, Kenya, attended high school at Embu and studied at the University of California and Stanford University. He taught at the University of Zambia and at Kenyatta University, Kenya, from 1976 until his death. His first publication was a book of short stories, Potent Ash (1968), which he wrote with his brother, Samuel Kahiga. The book explores the guilt, betrayal, and failure of the Mau Mau.
Several of the stories have been anthologized, especially The Spider's Web, which points an accusing finger at Kenya's elite for the state of Kenya since independence. His only novel, Voices in the Dark (1970), uses dark humour to question why most Mau Mau soldiers who fought for independence were forgotten and left to beg and die along the roadside. Kibera has also written several articles of literary criticism.
A Silent Song by Leonard Kibera is a story about Mbane, a young, paralyzed, blind city street beggar. He lives in destitution, begging from the passers-by while seething with pain and discomfort. His brother, a wealthy preacher, 'rescues' him from the barbaric city unto the 'light of God' after neglecting him for a long time.
Mbane painfully reminisces his street life with nostalgia at his brother's lonely hut. He is not as happy though he is now in a more serene environment. He remembers the bright weather, lovely morning and beautiful sunset as the city dwellers, pedestrians, dull and gay people during the day talk. At night, the good men and women turned drunk, pimps and whore galore have their turn to smile. He begs day and night for a living.
He is nursed by Sarah, his brother's wife, who administers bitter fluid down his throat. He swallows it painfully, and she assures him of being well. His religious brother, Ezekiel, preaches to him about Christ, the saved ones and sinners. He asks him whether he knows where sinners go when they die and whether he accepts Jesus, and Mbane says he doesn't know. Before he saves him, Mbane's strength wanes, the pain goes, his head jerks down to the bed, and he is gone.
Title of the story
Explore the following themes as brought out in the story,
A Silent Song.
Pain and misery of Physical handicap
In a sense, A Silent Song, an oxymoron, paradoxically echoes the moments of soul searching and reflections that mbane has had over the period he stays on the street. This creates a more vivid picture of his life and a cathartic emotional impact.
The miserable life on the street as a crippled, blind beggar seems less painful than in his brother's desolate hut, where he is lonely and suffering. (p18). He has been speaking to himself in his thoughts and for a long time on the street except for his mechanical plea of 'Yes?', he has no one else to address but himself. (p19).
Mbanes undergoes much pain, agony, and suffering on the streets because of his life circumstances. Being blind and lame has impaired his ability to live everyday life. 'Sharp pangs', 'savage fury', pain tore his stomach'. (PI 7 - 19). He crawled on his knees and elbows... suddenly sharp pangs from his navel tore... He was paralyzed. Then the pain disappeared... but he knew it had only recoiled for another attack. (PI 7).
He has heard noises, songs, and sounds of different people, but he retires to solitude, and thoughts start going through his mind at the end of the day. It is like a dream, a song of hope, and he sings his happy song silently to himself, secretly. (p20).
Mbane ponders the meaning of light to him... light mean to a blind man... (p19). At the point of death, as his brother urges him to get saved, with reticence, he ponders on God's place and meaning in his life.
People despise him on the streets. Good Christian men and women would once again curse and call him able-bodied, only crippled more every day by the idleness of leisurely begging. (p19).
He sits there (street back lane) and waits for his journey's end. His body smells of sweat, unwashed except in the rain, which he could but feel. (p20).
There is a wide gap between his beliefs and his brother's. His tortured body is already separated from his free soul when he dies. (p20).
The soul has already communicated in his silent song, smiling, at peace his hosts, himself and everyone. (p20).
Religious hypocrisy/Pretentious piety
Prostitution and sexual slavery
Alcoholism and escapism
The street, especially the back lane, had taught Mbane a lot of
... good men and women turned drunk in the refuge of the night brothels, pimps and whores galore. (PI 8).
L. Cite evidence from the text on the existence of the following character traits as portrayed in A Silent Song.
2. How can you tell that Mbane 'sees' and knows a lot in the city street despite being blind?
STYLE AND LANGUAGE USE
NINEMA -Vrenika Pather- South Africa
About the Author Vrenika Pather
Vrenika Pather is mainly known for her acting prowess since she started her career as an actress at the age of eighteen.
The Indian lady of South African origin has also written a few short stories, one of them being Ninema. Her stories mainly tell the life that many Indian ladies live and their everyday's encounters.
Points to guide interpretation
She is one of the market gardeners who serves as the main character in the story.
She is focused, ambitious, organised and strong-willed.
Her admirable trait is seen in how fond the other ladies are of her
A comprehensive and detailed guide to a silent song and other stories and how many of her customers remain loyal.
b. Mr Chinran
He is a white man who is a loyal customer of Ninema.
He admires Ninema, but both know that their relationship is prohibited since they are from different castes. While Mr Chinran is a wealthy lawyer from a Brahmin caste, Ninema is a poor girl from a low caste.
He supports Ninema's business by buying more than enough herbs from her.
c. Mrs Singh
She is a wealthy older woman who is a loyal customer.
She is known for haggling over prices, thus being difficult and troublesome. She spends time negotiating with Ninema as a way of passing the time.
d. The strange man
He is the man who accosts Ninema on her way from the market. He is immoral, vulgar and lascivious.
Vrenika Pather's story Ninema', is about the harsh life of market gardeners as represented by Ninema and the other ladies. The story explores the hustles that Ninema goes through on a typical market day, starting from rising at the wee hours of the morning to closure time which is late in the evening. Her home life is simple, suggesting the poor living conditions of such vendors. She has to prepare before going to the Indian market where she makes her sales. She only washes her face and feet with cold water from an outside tap since she cannot afford running hot water. This affects her grooming as she takes a bath once a week. She puts on her Chumpal, symbolising the poor condition and the only source of protection for her feet while on the way to and from the market.
Ninema remains focused and does not let her beauty and attention from both men and women control her. Once in the market, Ninema organises her herbs appetisingly to attract customers.
The market condition is challenging as the weather is not favourable. It is hot, and
Ninema sweats until her Sari clings to her firm skin.
She handles different customers who buy her herbs with wisdom and respect. Her focus in business enables her not to get carried away by Mr Chinran's attraction towards her. She does not encourage his infatuation with her but treats him like any other customer. with respect and appreciation.
She firmly handles the troublesome and difficult Mrs Singh. Many customers who visit her stall are served well and are satisfied as she takes a personal interest in them. Her doctor, Dr Seedat, visits too, and she takes time talking to him about her mother's ailment.
Having served her last customer, Ninema closes her stall after taking stock of the unsold herbs and her profit for the day. The rot in society is seen when a strange man sexually assaults Ninema on her way home. He pinches her erect nipple and laughs loudly before extending some invitation for Ninema to follow him. Ninema does not take this abuse lying down. She utilises the only weapon she has - her chumpal, that protect the soles of her feet and her whole self. She hits the man repeatedly with her sandals as the other women cheer her on. The man is too shocked to react and thus ends up being beaten by Ninema until he whimpers.
Feeling satisfied, Ninema continues with her journey home. She goes back to the poor condition she left in the morning. She safely keeps her sandals under the kitchen table before washing her face and feet with cold water, just like she had done in the morning. She takes a rest that leads her to a dream of a better tomorrow.
The story ends with hopeful/optimistic Ninema, who dreams of having a home for herself, hot water and a kitchen inside the house.
EPISODIC ANALYSIS OF KEY ISSUES
The harsh life of a market gardener
Dealing with different kinds of customers
Mr Chinran admires her and can almost be said to be in love with her. 'The ladies teased her, saying he was in love with her. The writer also tells us that Ninema made Mr Chinran's day.
He is almost always the first customer. Ninema handles him wisely and does not let this attraction control her. She does not encourage his infatuation but treats him with respect and appreciation like she does all her loyal customers. (pg14)
She also has to handle demanding customers such as Mrs Singh, who though rich, will always bargain to lower the prices. Ninema shows her masterful skills by firmly and respectively handling her. (pg14)
She serves many affluent customers at lunch hour who steadily flow in to get herbs for their evening meals. She pays personal interest to each as she has an ambition of living a better life just like most of these customers. (pg15)
The Indian society that Ninema hails from has a strong belief in the caste where those from the high caste Brahmin Caste, are not allowed to inter-marry with those from the lower caste.
This is seen in her association with Mr Chinran. 'As much as Ninema dismisses the teasing of the ladies that Mr Chinran is in love with her, she is also aware that a rich lawyer from a Brahmin caste cannot be interested in someone like her - a poor girl from a low caste (pg14).
Mr Chinran himself knows it too, and thus their relation can never go beyond early morning herb buys. He further understands that his mother will soon arrange a marriage for him, most probably to a person from his caste.
The writer emphasises the importance of hard work, focus and determination in an individual's life. Through the main character Ninema, the benefits of the three traits are depicted. Ninema's hard work is seen in how she rises early - four o'clock Monday morning, and goes to her garden to reap herbs. Her hard work in the garden has borne fruits since her crops are described as being healthy (pg13).
Her hardworking nature is also seen in how she ably
attends to the many wealthy customers who flock to her stall, especially during lunchtime. Even though the stall is busy and Ninema is quite busy, she ably attends to all customers and takes a personal interest (pg15).
Ninema's hard work does not go unrewarded. She has several loyal customers who visit her stall daily. She has a steady flow of customers and feels she will need to sow more seeds to keep up with the rising demand (pg15).
She does not let anything distractherfromherbusiness. She remains focused, which essentially aids to success in her business. The writer points out Ninema's beauty that makes heads turn when she walks through vivid description. 'She is a beautiful woman... her hips sway from side to side as she moves....Her thin, chiffon sari drapes effortlessly around her perfect body as ifkept in place by her high, firm breasts. Long, toned arms and a cinched waist cause men to stop and stare' (pg13).
Despite receiving this attention, Ninema keeps calm and focuses on her business. 'Ninema does not take the attention she gets to the heart. Her concern is with earning a living' (Pg14).
Her focus is further seen where while other lady hawkers chat amiably with each other as they work, Ninema rarely talks back since she has no time to waste (pg14).
The writer points out the sexual harassment faced by many women in society. The encounter between Ninema and the stranger on her way home shows how women suffer sexual abuse even in public places. The man approaching Ninema grins lasciviously at her before extending his arm to pinch her erect nipple. As if this is not enough, he extends an invitation to Ninema "If you liked that follow me." (Pg16). episode satirises men who assume women are sex objects to be mishandled.
Ninema's reaction to the abuse is unexpected. The man is shocked when Ninema follows him and hits him repeatedly with her Chumpal. She gives him 'a few extra hits on behalf of all the women.' (Pg 6) This shows that many women have been victims of sexual abuse but end up not fighting back. Ninema thus portrays a courageous personality as she fights for herself and even for the helpless women who had been or would-be victims of such abuse.
The story "Ninema' is a story of hope. Ninema has hope that her life will change at some point. As the story ends, Ninema dreams of the home that will be hers someday soon: The house will have hot water too, and the kitchen will be on the inside. She will also have her large garden to grow herbs and some fruits for herself (pg16).
INCIDENT IN THE PARK: Meja Mwangi
Episodes / sub-episodes
The incident in the park, by Meja Mwangi, is a contemporary episode set in the city park and its environs where most citizens, hustlers and workers, spend most of their time as an Outdoor recreation centre. We know it is the popular Uhuru Park in Nairobi through its vivid description.
Metaphorically described, the park is seriously affected by the drought in August. there is a dirty lake at its base, and to the west, up the hill, a cathedral, modern fortresses and ministerial Offices overlooking the park below, and across it is the city itself. A highway, Uhuru highway, separates the park from the city, and on it, there is heavy traffic. In the east, parliament and two city clocks are seen.
Therefore, the park provides a relaxing haven (chilling point) and a source of solace for the misplaced, lost Or frustrated masses flocking the city daily. This has attracted many people. including peddlers trying to make ends meet and idlers killing time here. The city hungry office workers also buy cheap snacks during the lunch hour and return to their stations. Others rush down to River Road to buy chips and roast meat as the loiterers watch the Spectre in a jiffy.
Soon, the park is left With a few idlers and peddlers. Under the slightest shade lie men sheltering from the scorching sun. Watchers watch rowers paddling, reacting to the maxim that spectating is the next best thing to participating. A loafer keeps dropping debris to the fish pond despite the warning inscription on a board. Another man joins him, and a dialogue ensues, and they share a cigarette.
An incident erupts when two city constables demand to see the licence Of the ice cream man and a fruit seller. The Old man helplessly searches and realizes he doesn't have it. Worse. he has no identity card, so he offers the five shillings he has, for he fears the judge and going to jail. He begs for forgiveness, offering all the fruits in vain.
On seeing they are unimpressed, he flees to find refuge in the crowded city, and the cops chase him. He is nabbed by a man on the highway and eventually falls into a ditch. There, the poor man is condemned unheard of for being a 'thief'.
Title of the story
With evidence from the text, discuss the urban problem that leads to the destitution of the masses.
How does the city's jobless population escape their wretchedness?
Compare and contrast the city workers and the jobless masses.
What are the harsh realities of city life and the illusion of a better, promising life?
How does the rural-urban influx affect people's lives?
What does the presence of butts, used matches and stubs at the park tell you?
How does the lack of identity cards and license affect peddlers?
Juxtapose the kind of identification the police demand from the fruit vendor and one that awaits him at the mortuary.
Referring closely to the fruit-seller show how the mob and the legal system administer justice.
Why does the merchant resort to flight and fight for his life instead of overcoming his fright for the justice system?
Who is to blame for the death of the fruit-seller, the constables, the public, or the
What lessons can be taken from the incident at the city park?
What does the fruit seller's mention of the 'tyrant judge' tell us about the justice system?
Problems of urbanization
Urban population growth, driven by migration and searching for jobs, has become a significant issue in cities like Nairobi.
However, the masses end up frustrated due to a skills mismatch in the labour market, dwindling economy and poor governance. But every now and then, a misplaced person rose with a start... (p7).
In a few seconds, the thousand or so strong swarm had been swallowed up by the yawning concrete jungle... (p7).
Urban poverty is also witnessed as many remain loitering and idling reminding the park loungers just how many hours they had wasted lying idle.' (p7).
'A shaggy thin man sat under a shrub...' (p7). ' hairy loafer' (p8). ' The idler seated on the bank...' (p8) torn trouser legs.' (p8) 'horny toes. (p9L
There is also evidence of poor hygiene. The park is littered with debris, cigarette ends and butts. (p8,9). The two gentlemen share puffs on the cigarette. One offers a full cigarette, and smoking in this zone could be a form of escapism from their poverty. (p10).
The fruit seller has only ten shillings which he offers to the constables to spare him. He cannot afford to pay for the licence, or even the fine has on another case. (pl 1).
Conflicts between city authority and street hawkers
Mob justice / Social injustice
The fruit seller
Style and language use
A comprehensive and detailed guide to a silent song and other stories
A MAN OF AWESOME POWERS (Naguib Mahfouz-Egypt)
Points to guide interpretation
A Man of Awesome Power is an intriguing story about Tayyib al-Mahdi, who lives a comfortable life after retiring from many years of service abroad. His current life is peaceful and uneventful. He spends time watching television, reading newspapers or listening to the radio in the comfort of his apartment that he shares with his wife since his daughters are already married. The story captures how an individual who is empowered when least expected utilises the power given to him. His illusions of desire for a better country lead to his dream of power acquisition.
One night, Tayyib dreams of a visitation by a man of radiant appearance who speaks to him in a kind tone, informing him that God had willed him the power to order things to be and they would be. Although he dismisses the dream like any other dream, its frequent recurrence makes him give it more thought. Tayyib confirms its reality when he orders his television to switch channels, and it happens. Endowed with the newly acquired power, he sets out to reform his country and the entire planet as he had often wished.
He utilises his power both for good and bad intentions. He starts by hitting back a taxi driver who ignores him by wishing him an accident. He also causes a man who had physically attacked a woman in a bus to suffer stomach cramps. We see him engaging in meritorious deeds such as filing a gaping pothole, locking an electric box and removing a pile of rubbish that he trips on.
The media does not escape his wrath as he causes one radio announcer to suffer massive sneezes after making an announcement that gave false hopes. As the story progresses, Sulayman Bey al-Hamalawi, a political leader who had evaded tax, is ordered by Tayyib to go and pay the tax that he had been avoiding for a long time.
An unfortunate incident occurs when Tayyib is busy planning to effectively utilise his power for the good of all sectors in the country. He notices a beautiful woman at the entrance of the tea garden and uses his ability to satisfy his desires for her. Their intimacy costs him his incredible power.
He pays this price for misusing the power that God had freely given him. The story ends with his sad realisation that he no longer has power. His attempts to order the television channels to change do not bear fruits. He experiences a tremendous sadness that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
a. Tayyib al-Mahdi
EPISODIC ANALYSIS OF KEY ISSUES
Man of Awesome Power' is founded on several pillars determined by the various
Some key issues arise from the episodes:
Acquisition of power
How Tayyib acquires his power teaches several things:
One can gain power at any stage of life.
Tayyib believed that he had completed his mission in the world. Before acquiring power, he lives a peaceful life as he enjoys the fruits of retirement. The writer notes that 'He had generous insurance and more than adequate pension' pg 1 which do not prevent him from being given power by God.
Power is God-given.
Tayyib's power is bestowed on him by God. As seen from his words, "All praise to God, Lord of the Worlds", and listening to radio channels devoted to the Quran (pg 1), his religious nature is one reason God willed to grant him power. The man who visits him in the dream tells him that starting that moment and as long as God willed, he had been bestowed with the power to order things to be and they would be. (pg l)
Utilisation of Power
Tayyib utilises the power given to him in different incidents:
Good utilisation of power
The episode shows how a person bestowed with power should utilise it. Tayyib's soliloquy during his encounter with the taxi driver captures the need to use power for the well-being of others and to make things better. 'Whoever is granted with power like mine, must utilise it only for good.' (pg 2)
He uses the power to do several good deeds. Some of the outstanding services that Tayyib performs include filling a gaping pothole, locking an electric box that was open and hanging dangerously, removing a pile of trash and draining sewer water that was flooding an alley. Many people in the neighbourhood appreciate these services. (p 3).
He also does a good deed of making Sulayman, who has been evading tax, go to the taxi authorities and pay them millions of pounds he owed them. (pg3).
Misuse of power
Tayyib utilises the power given to him for vengeance- The act of causing the tire burst of the taxi since the driver had ignored him is vengeful.
Tayyib ignores the noble voice that reminds him not to use power for wrong purposes and lets his anger get the best of him. (pg 2)
Tayyib causes harm/pain and suffering to the man who had slapped a woman on a public bus.
Severe cramps strike the man, following Tayyib's anger focused on the man's stomach. (pg3)
He uses power to satisfy his lustful desires when he sees a beautiful woman and makes her notice him making them surrender to fate. (pg 4)
Role of the Media
The media is seen to fail in its role. It dwells more on giving false promises/hope instead of telling what had already been achieved.
When Tayyib gets into the café, he listens to a radio announcer expounding on promising developments expected in the future (pg 3).
Tayyib's fury is directed at the announcer, causing him to suffer massive sneezing, forcing him to end the announcement and play a song.
The song- 'Walk Around and See' is ironically used to satirise the media for highlighting and emphasising what is yet to be seen (prophesies) instead of dwelling on the reality that can be seen.
Sexual immorality is seen when Tayyib utilises his power to make the beautiful woman he notices in the Tea Garden fall for his advances.
The woman barely notices Tayyib when she gets to the garden, but Tayyib shifts her attention to himself through the power he has. He forgets his faith and his life (Lack of self- control) and surrenders to fate.
Tax evasion is another immorality that is seen in the story. Many leaders use their powerful positions to evade paying their taxes, such as Sulayman Bey al- Hamalawi.
When Tayyib notices him, he commands, "Sulayman Bey, go straight to the tax prosecutor's office to repent and say you are sorry up the millions of pounds you owe." (pg 3)
Loss of Power
If power is not utilised for 'good', it will be lost. Tayyib loses his awesome power when he comes back to his senses and realises that he had made some mistake.
Although he had been secretive about his power, his wife Haniya keenly observes that he was not in his usual mood that evening.
Tayyib's deceitful/ dishonest nature is depicted when he easily lies to his wife that he had a cold. Unfortunately, for Tayyib, he loses his power due to his mistakes. 'The miracle was gone - like a dream.' (pg 5)
Tayyib confirms that he has been bestowed with power by ordering television channels to change. Changing the television channel from a religious one to a foreign one foreshadows the changes that happen to Tayyib once he acquires power.
He is initially described as 'A good man; his sins were forgivable he was a lover of virtue.....' (pg 2). However, power ones changes him. He becomes vengeful, lustful, deceitful and inhumane. He forgets his faith and life and lets passion and lust control him, which had never happened since he married Haniya. (pg 4)
Power also helps change the risky living condition of the people gaping potholes dangerously hanging an open electric box, Sewer flooding on alleys and piles of rubbish on the way. All these are rectified through Tayyib power.
How to write effective KCSE English Paper 3 Essays
If you have read and understood the setbooks, answering questions 2 and 3 in English paper 3 should be easy. After understanding the question, you will need to determine relevant points, characters, or episodes to use in your essay. Take the first ten minutes to analyze the question and make brief notes. A high-scoring KCSE essay should have an introduction, four to five body paragraphs and a conclusion, and should be around 450 words.
KCSE Essay Introduction
According to the 2022 KCSE Report an introduction should show that you understand the question. One way to show that you understand the question is by paraphrasing the question.
First, identify the key words in the question before rewriting it in your own words. It is good practice to mention the book title and author. You can also provide a brief summary of the main points you are going to discuss in your article as in the example below:
Action speaks louder than words. Discuss the truth of this saying using illustrations from Leonard Kibera's A Silent Song. (20 marks)
The character of an individual tells more than what they actually say. Mbane's brother, In the story A silent song by Leonard Kibera, Ezekiel, preaches water and takes wine. He is so devoted to God as a preacher, but neglects Mbane, to agonize in the streets for a long time until he almost dies.
Writing KCSE Essay Body Paragraphs
KCSE essays should have four to five body paragraphs. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that introduces the point you want to discuss. Provide relevant evidence from the text and explanation after the topic sentence. Names of characters should be accurate to avoid losing points for textual errors.
Your goal should be to argue and illustrate your point. A common mistake that students make in body paragraphs is to narrate events from the text instead of showing how the events support their point. Such paragraphs are described as "thin" by KCSE examiners, and they do not score full points.
Remember you should be arguing and supporting your topic sentence therefore avoid narrating the text. As you conclude the paragraph make sure you have a clincher sentence- a statement that ties your paragraph to the question. So be sure to have about 9 lines of evidence and explanation in each body paragraph to score full points. You can end your paragraphs with a "clincher", a sentence that summarizes your paragraph as in the example below:
Concluding a KCSE essay
End your essay with a brief paragraph that summarizes what you discussed in the body. You may start with the phrase "In conclusion..".followed by a summary of the moral lesson from the question. Keep the conclusion short, a maximum of three lines.
In conclusion, the true gospel is the action of an individual because it is more practical than mere words. Actions work and satisfy the heart more than proclaiming the word of God.
Other KCSE tips
Remember to use simple language in your essay. Proofread your essay to check for spelling, grammar, and textual errors. We will be posting more sample essays to illustrate the kind of essays that KCSE examiners expect to see.