Thematic concerns in Betrayal in the City - Oppression / Social Injustice

The leadership of Kafira is dictatorial.

It is oppressive.

The government in a bid to perpetuate its continued stay in power has resulted in silencing its critics.

The educated elite in particular pay the heaviest price for being at the fore front of criticizing the excess of Boss’ regime.

Assassinations, arrests, imprisonments and torture of prisoners are the order of the day.

Boss must always have his way and will eliminate anyone who appears to be a stumbling block to his schemes.

He does not entertain any freedom of expression of whatever kind.

For example, the academic staff members should not weep in public for whatever reason, and if they do, they end up in prison like Mosese.

Freedom of expression is curtailed. Jere says “the outside of this cell may be the inside of another’ (pg 21) Prisoners are not allowed to ask questions. It only makes one’s life more unbearable.

When one asks questions he is subjected to beating as in the case of Jere.

Prisoners are denied food only those who co-operate with authorities enjoy certain privileges.

Jere is denied tea hen Mosese is presented with a cup of tea.

During Adika’s funeral Mosese says of the orders room the government.

‘The funeral would not take more than ten minutes, the coffin could not be carried by students and weeping in public was illegal for the academic staff.”

When Mosese protested against this high handedness, he is arrested and imprisoned on trumped up charges of possessing illegal drugs.

Prisoners are denied food and only those who co-operate with prison authorities.

In a bid to secure conviction for Mosese, his sister (Regina) is subjected to beating by soldiers as people watch, forcing her to give evidence against him.

As a result the beating she loses hearing in one ear.

Doga and Nina lose their lives after protesting the government’s decision to prevent them from conducting the shaving ceremony for their late son Adika.

Tumbo and Nicodemo know that Mulili killed Kabito but they cannot say anything about it. “Like caged animals we move, but inside the cage’ (pg 62)

Boss’ regime has established research stations meant to rehabilitate perceived opponents of the state before they are re-integrated into the society.

Askari tells Jere, “You see we have research stations dotted all over the countryside.” (pg 17)

Boss tells Jusper that when he goes back to the University he should tell the leaders that it is his (Boss’) duty to decide on the magnitude of Kafira’s Africanization programme and that they have no

right to chant about it.

When the students demonstrate against the influx of expatriate personnel, Boss warns that the result will always be the same, deaths and imprisonment.

Jere protests the mistreatment of Nina and Doga by the government.

He successfully tries to convince Mulili to allow them to conduct the shaving ceremony for their son Adika.

An altercation ensues between him and Mulili when he insists that the ceremony will go on as planned resulting in his arrest and imprisonment.

Jusper’s unstable state of mind can be attributed to the physical as well as psychological suffering he has undergone. He has been arrested twice, first during the burial of his brother Adika and seconds the murder of Chagaga who killed his brother.

Doga says “then they came and took him away…..when they brought him back after three months he was no longer the son we knew (pg 4-5) The death of his brother took a heavy toll on him and he could not come to terms with it.

Prisoners must perform a play that must entertain the visiting head of state in order to earn amnesty.

  • Betrayal in the City by Francis Imbuga

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