Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Africa Kills Her Sun” is a serious reckoning with the corruption and lawlessness that the author saw as being among the major forces responsible for robbing African people of their chances for a happy, decent, and productive life. The story is full of allusions to real-life cases of corruption and the economic mismanagement and political brutality of failed historical leaders such as Idi Amin of Uganda or Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who made himself emperor of the Central African Republic and was deposed after allegedly eating the flesh of murdered schoolchildren.

Against a near-universal pan-African pattern of corruption, Saro-Wiwa’s protagonist sets the example of a ruthlessly honest man. Bana chooses to be true to the nature and laws of his society. Instead of working for wages on which he cannot live without taking bribes or participating in the system of stealing under the guise of performing civic services in a state ministry, Bana becomes a boss of a gang of armed robbers. The story strongly argues that his taking of workers’ salaries by ambushing money transports, after coordinating his actions with a willing and paid-off police force, is identical to the devious actions of state officials who steal vast amounts of public money that should have benefited society and provided for economic development.

For Bana, personal honesty and high ethics require that he stand by his actions and be prepared to pay the price for his behavior. He...

(The entire section is 431 words.)