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
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