Nyakinyua is Wanja's grandmother and the most respected person in the village of Ilmorog (especially due to the fact that she is the revered storyteller). Nyakinyua is always providing insights into Ilmorog’s past in her stories which stem from before colonialism in Ilmorog to Nyakinyua’s husband’s fight against British troops. Nyakinyua is responsible for all of the traditional ceremonies and dances that happen in Ilmorog.
Nyakinyua is quite wary of Munira’s appearance in Ilmorog (because Nyakinyua fears that Munira will run from the village just like those that came before him). When the rains finally come, the villagers of Ilmorog dance in their native rituals suggested by Nyakinyua. To futher the celebration, Nyakinyua creates a special brew for everyone to drink from the Thang'eta plant, a very special addition to the ceremony.
To the great sadness of the village, Nyakinyua finally dies and (worse) the banks swoop down to take the land she owns. Here is where the main protagonist of Wanja comes in. Wanja sells her successful business in order to buy Nyakinyua’s land. One wonders what Nyakinyua would think about Wanja’s new business that she creates (a brothel), where Wanja is both the owner and one of the prostitutes.