Mulili - Betrayal in the City Characterization and Role

Mulili is an ex-soldier and now a farmer. He is cousin to Boss and is a member of the visitor’s entertainment committee.


He makes fun of Doga and Nina’s sorrow due to the loss of their son and forbids them to carry out the shaving ceremony at the graveside.

Even when Nina threatens to strip naked in protest , a traditional curse, Mulili asks, “….How many naked body I have seen and I am still Mulili with my two eyes, natural?” (pg 9)

He is insensitive to Doga’s feelings that Doga finally tells him, “…..may you die the way Adika did.” (pg 10)

He has Doga, Nina and Kabito killed in cold-blood.

He declares that there is no reason why Boss should not be killed.


He shows disrespect for the elder couple (Doga and Nina) when he dares Nina to go ahead and strip after she had threatened to do so.

He says he has seen many naked bodies and he is still Mulili with two eyes, natural. (pg 9)


He bears a grudge against Kabito because he feels belittled by Kabito whom he alleges has called him a primary school kid.

As if that is not enough, he goes ahead to tell lies about Kabito to Boss leading to his elimination.

He threatens Jere for failing to enforce the instructions they had to prevent Doga and Nina from carrying out their late son’s shaving ceremony. This act lands Jere in prison


Being Boss’ cousin he is promised many acres of land and grade cattle. He will therefore do anything to ensure he gets this.

When the tender for the supply of milk to the university is awarded to somebody else (Kabito), Mulili reports to Boss who revokes it and gives it to him.

Mulili goes on to have Kabito killed after lying to Boss that Kabito had maligned his name. He allows a fugitive, Mustafa, to escape across the border.


His ungrammatical English makes him a funny character provoking laughter in the reader every time he speaks.

For example, in reference to Doga’s statement that an innocent man is in prison because of Adika, Mulili says, That no matter, he go against law and order, tell us new thing or make clear out of here. You are trespasser.’ (pg 10)

When Nina says that they do not want to be shown letter because their hope has been killed, Mulili tells them, “Your people full of primitive; instead going to find how the other is, they comes and gets stick with dead one.” (pg 10)

He mixes up simple sayings. For example, when he comes late for the meeting of the entertainment committee that is preparing for the head of state, he tells the other, “Gentlemen, I am very sorrowful, but I always say, better never than late’ (pg 54) When telling Boss about Kabito, he says, ‘The one, he be a green grass in the snake.’ (pg 59)

He quickly changes things he had said to suit himself.

For instance, he reports that Kabito died in an accident because he was driving while under the influence of alcohol. Nicodemo asks, “His breath did you say?” He retreats, “who said breath I said his body smelled whiskies?” (pg 63)

Short tempered/temperamental

Mulili falls out with people on many occasions because of his short temper.

For example, when Doga

pleads with him to let him carry on with the shaving ceremony, he loses his temper.

Nina gets angry with him and threatens to strip naked, but he is not moved.

Doga curses him to die like Adika but he responds, “… tell him me I am a man with action not words, come on tell……” (pg 10)

Mulili abuses Kabito a goat when the latter refuses to apologise to him (pg 57)


He does all he can to please the authority (Boss).

For example, he does not agree with Jere to let Doga and Nina perform the shaving ceremony for their late son even when Jere feels they can allow the couple to do it under supervision.

He is very proud of having undeservingly won the milk tender.

This is because he is Boss’ cousin.

He is impressed by the way he got the tender.

“What happen to Mr. Mulili tender supply for milk?……You knows, who is speaking! I it’s me, Boss himself and no bloody vice-deputy.” (pg 54)

He does everything to impress Boss and make him think he is loyal.

He even suggests that people should go on holiday during the visit by the foreign head of state, so that everyone can line up along the road to receive him.

This is against logic because, according to Kabito, this is the final term and most school children will be sitting their exams and cannot afford to line up along the road.

He was a soldier and now a farmer but still insist on being part of the authority. For example, he has the audacity to criticize university lecturers for allegedly going against policy.

He also says that university students should co-operate with the government because, “We pays for their fees, we pays for their luxury, we give them all necessary, who are they?” (pg 56)

When he goes for the rehearsal, he tells Boss, “Yes, your excellent. I say myself: go and be

with cousin as he sees the final one.” (pg 69)


  • Mulili symbolizes the excesses of Boss;-
    He is portrayed as cruel, greedy, vengeful and dictatorial. Tumbo says of him, ‘the most of the advisers is that of his, Mulili.” (pg 44)
  • Through him the character of Jere is brought out a principled when the latter amidst Mulili’s objections insists that Adika’s shaving ceremony will proceed as scheduled.
  • He enhances the themes of misuse of power, corruption and self-preservation. The writer has effectively employed use of humour through Mulili.

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  • Betrayal in the City by Francis Imbuga

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