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How does the character of Mumbi symbolize Africa's struggle for identity  in A Grain...

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kdwidmer | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 3, 2009 at 12:17 PM via web

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How does the character of Mumbi symbolize Africa's struggle for identity  in A Grain of Wheat?

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copelmat | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted April 28, 2010 at 4:31 AM (Answer #1)

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Mumbi is symbolic of Africa in A Grain of Wheat largely because she is an innocent bystander in all of the transgressions.

As Kihika's sister, one would think she would hold a place of high regard within her village and within the Kenyan struggle for independence. However, she becomes a mere pawn and victim in the local power struggle. While her husband, Ginkoyo, is imprisoned in the British concentration camp, she is raped by Karanja, a British collaborator, and the individual rumored to be the traitor who revealed her brother's identity leading directly to his hanging.

Mumbi is left almost without an identity through these struggles, although none of it is her fault or even the result of her actions. Much like Africa itself, she is left ravaged and forced to carve her own identity in a new and confusion world.

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