Characterization in Betrayal in the City - Study Guides
Tumbo is Boss’ right hand man -even though he is semi-literate. He carries out tasks for the leader of Kafira. This has earned him wealth, power and a bad reputation among citizens. He is Regina’s landlord and the chair of the committee in charge of the visiting head of state’s entertainment.
He is selfish/ materialistic/ unpatriotic /corrupt
Being a beneficiary of Boss’ corrupt regime Tumbo ignores the plight of other citizens of Kafira who bear the brunt of their government’s corruption and brutality. Instead of using his powerful position to give Boss advice that might improve his leadership style, he busies himself with accumulating wealth through corruption.
He confesses to Jusper that he sold his university scholarship.
He also tells Jusper that one should enrich himself first before he can try speaking for others. He says this in effort to discourage Jusper from protesting against the government and to defend his laxity to criticise the government.
He fraudulently awards Jusper the contract to write the play and splits the money between them. He does not conduct the play writing competition as was required but plans to publish a report saying that it was held and Jusper won.
He advises Regina to go see Boss about her brother’s release knowing well what might happen there. This makes Tumbo the kind of man that can readily sacrifice their friends just to preserve their power.
He is timid/ fearful
Tumbo is careful to preserve his life, power and the good relation he has with Boss. He never questions Boss’ decision in fear of consequences. During the committee meeting he sides with Mulili to avoid confrontation with him. Even though he knew that Boss has “a weakness for women” he encourages Regina to go see him. She escapes both rape and death narrowly when she jumps out of the window.
Tumbo can also be described as: generous, cautious etc
Tumbo represents the corrupt, self-serving and
unpatriotic leaders who use their power to amass wealth while neglecting their duty. He exemplifies people who blindly carry out orders of their superiors without questioning their rationale or daring to advise their superiors against bad decisions.
He also serves as an example of an incompetent, inefficient official who got power through dubious means and is therefore eager to please his master by doing whatever he is ordered without question.