Struggle In The River Between Essay

929 words - 4 pages

Struggle in The River Between  

In the book "The River Between" we find traditional values of the tribe challenged by tribal members who had converted to Christianity. The novel focuses on the struggle between two conflicting interests: First there was the interest to convert Africans to Christianity, and the second was the tribe trying to keep their traditional values in the midst of Christianity. The most contrasting characters in the story were Waiyaki and Joshua.

Waiyaki was a strong influence on the people of the land, and his father, Chege, was a man who had powerful visions of his son's future: "Salvation shall come from the hills ... Arise. Heed the prophecy" (Pg. 20). Waiyaki’s father put the burden of this prophecy on his son's shoulders. The realization of his role in this prophecy happened to Waiyaki in the end of the novel: " ... the journey with his father, the ancient prophecy and his bewilderment at its meaning" (Pg. 138). "Now he knew what he would preach if he ever got another chance: Education for unity. Unity for political freedom" (Pg. 143). Chege told Waiyaki to learn from the white people, but not to become involved in their vices: "Learn all the wisdom and all the secrets of the white man. But do not follow his vices" (Pg. 20). Waiyaki began to learn that knowledge and learning was important in order for his people to become victorious over the invasion of the white man. Waiyaki also understood that the traditions of the tribe is what kept their people together, it was their roots: "Circumcision was an important ritual to the tribe. It kept people together, bound the tribe ... End the custom and the spiritual basis of the tribes cohesion and integration would be no more" (Pg. 68). And even though Waiyaki wanted to keep the purity of the tribe, he knew that some of the teachings of the white missionaries were true and even beneficial: "For Waiyaki knew that not all the ways of the white man were bad ... some good, some truth shone through it" (Pg. 141).

Joshua instead believed in rooting out all pagan traditions and rituals: "He renounced his tribes magic, power and rituals. ... his people worship the Gikuyu god the Prince of darkness" (Pg. 29). "All the tribe’s customs were bad. That was final. There could never be a compromise" (Pg. 84). As is true in every religious movement there are those who become fanatical and try to push their ideas. Many people will not understand what your beliefs are, and so they will be fearful and most likely reject anything that you say. Fanatics come out when they think they know better than the people they are trying to convert, as is true in Joshua's case. Joshua, and a few others grasped the Christian ideas and...

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