Most of the major characters are highly educated young male ‘‘Kangans’’ who reflect on the condition of their country even as they are caught up in the ambivalence of living in or working for a corrupt regime.
Most are given a section of the novel to narrate, or one that is communicated through their viewpoints with the help of the narrator or another character, so that we see the action in their successive views, none of which is totally reliable. The ‘‘First Witness,’’ as the chapter title tells us, is Christopher Oriko, Commissioner for Information, who has been the editor of the National Gazette and is a graduate of the London School of Economics. Rather like Odili in the prior political novel, he is at first in an ambivalent position about the leader, and keeps an uneasy surveillance over his friend and old schoolmate, Ikem Osodi, the journalist, and now editor of the Gazette, who is the ‘‘Second Witness.’’ (The epithet suggests a trial or courtroom, and also adds a sort of historical/biblical view of the action, as if to suggest that history is both being made and judged.) Chris is worried about the condition of the country, where starving citizens of the drought-stricken Abazon region are forced to send a ‘‘good will’’ delegation to the capitol in order to alert the military government of their obviously already dire circumstances. As the book opens, the unctuous Attorney General is brown nosing...
(The entire section is 1832 words.)
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A cab driver and family man sympathetic to Chris's plight, he uses his cab to help Chris get out of the city and works with Emmanuel to make the plans to get Chris up north.
One of the passengers on the bus taken by Chris, Emmanuel, and Abdul as they leave Bassa and head north to safety, Adamma is about to be raped when Chris steps in to save her. As a result, Chris is shot and killed, and Adamma returns to Kangan with Emmanuel.
Agatha is Beatrice's flighty, religious, and judgmental house girl. She is a devout Christian who attends services regularly and does not hide her disapproval of Beatrice's allowing Chris into her bed. Beatrice is often impatient and short with Agatha, but as the novel progresses, she begins to feel more compassion for her.
Ikem's pregnant girlfriend, Elewa represents the common people. Unlike Chris, Ikem, and Beatrice, she is semiliterate and works in a shop. She is highly emotional and expressive. Through Elewa, Beatrice comes to understand that coming from humble origins does not necessarily make a person frail or insecure. On the contrary, Elewa's emotional displays belie her resilience and self-confidence.
General Ahmed Lango
General Lango is a duplicitous man who works his way into Sam's inner circle, only to lead the coup that will overthrow and kill...
(The entire section is 1613 words.)