Throughout the book, what are important terms to know?

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agrinwald eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When reading novels that are set in different cultures, there are often words that English-speaking readers might not be familiar with. Such is the case with The River Between, a Kenyan novel that features a number of locations and cultural terms that are important to understanding the novel. Here is a list of the most important terms:

Kameno is the first of two ridges, and the one where Waiyaki lives; Makuyu is the second of the two ridges.

Siriana refers to the home of one of the Christian missionaries.

Circumcision refers to a religious ceremony opposed by the Christians that consists of cutting the genitals of both boys and girls in order to allow them into adulthood.

A thingira is a Kikuyu home, specifically a hut, in which the men of the village live.

Honia is the titular river of the novel, which serves as a dividing line between the two communities. The literal translation of the word is "cure."

Marioshoni is the name for Waiyaki's school that sits on the Kameno ridge.

Njahi is the season of rains.

Kiama is a Gikuyu tribal council that aims to pay attention to what best serves the tribe. Initially formed by Kabonyi, the Kiama consists primarily of elders.

A mugumo tree is a fig tree that has sacred connotations.

"Gikuru Karinga" is a phrase referring to the importance of continuing the practice circumcision; in other words, "keep the tribe pure."