The Green Leaves

by Grace Ogot

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How does Nyagar die in "The Green Leaves"?

Quick answer:

Nyagar dies in "The Green Leaves" through trying to steal the money of the dead thief. It turns out the thief was only unconscious. The thief kills Nyagar, driving a stake through his eye.

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Nyagar is killed by the thief he thinks is dead when he sneaks out to steal the money the thief had put in a pouch around his neck. Unbeknownst to Nyagar, the thief has only been knocked unconscious. When Nyagar approaches him, the thief comes to life and kills Nyagar, driving a stake through his eye.

When the villagers go out the next day to see the corpse of the dead thief before it is taken for autopsy, they first must move away the leaves that it is buried under. When they do so, they are stunned to see that it is not the thief but Nyagar who is lying dead there.

Nyagar is a prosperous member of his Luo clan and has no need of the money he has tried to steal. The story shows that he has been infected by Western greed in wanting more and more despite all he has. His death is a form of poetic justice, the price he pays for turning against the ways of his community.

His interference with the thief's body disrupts the plans of the clan leader, Olielo. Olielo wanted the entire clan to be arrested for the murder of the thief, believing that if they all stood together, none would be harmed:

‘If we stand united, none of us will be killed.’

Nyagar, however, has put personal self-interest ahead of staying united and so has been killed.

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