What is the author's argument in The River Between?

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Ngugi wa Thiongo’s argument in his novel The River Between is about the impacts of external influence (Christian missionaries) on the people of an African village (the Kikuyu tribe of Kenya). The author gives detailed accounts of how Christianity conflicted with the traditions of the Kikuyu people. The Kikuyu, according...

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Ngugi wa Thiongo’s argument in his novel The River Between is about the impacts of external influence (Christian missionaries) on the people of an African village (the Kikuyu tribe of Kenya). The author gives detailed accounts of how Christianity conflicted with the traditions of the Kikuyu people. The Kikuyu, according to Ngugi, were not only expected to strictly adhere to the wishes of their ancestors, but also to shun forces that would wipe out their culture and identity. The novel goes on to explore the problems that would ensue if the community failed to share the same opinion or formulate a unanimous way of thinking that would work for the benefit of everyone.

Realistically, the Kikuyu people were divided. While some people believed that they were obliged to keep their customs and traditions alive, others felt that they should adopt the beliefs of the missionaries, even if it meant going against their way of life. The imposition of Christianity on the people, in essence, only served to separate the people, where one side received the missionaries in contempt and fear and the other felt that the impending change was what the people desperately needed. To reflect this conflict in a symbolic way, Ngugi lays a landscape where two ridges, Makuyu and Kameno, are split by a river called Honia. The river metaphorically represents the conflict or division between the two sides

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The author's argument in The River Between is generally about the divide between the tribal culture in Africa and the Christian culture (and also about how colonialism has deepened that divide). 

Many people believe that colonialism, or the conquest of Africa in order mostly to "Christianize" the nation, actually ruined the continent.  Traditional ways could not be married with modern ones, so the result was basic destruction. 

When the white man came and fixed himself in Siriana, I warned all the people.  But they laughed at me.  Maybe I was hasty.

Now the younger members of the population don't appreciate the old and traditional ways.  And Waiyaki makes the final realization that a "white" education can't achieve unity among the tribes and that politics is the only way to preserve the culture.  However, the author, Ngugi does not suggest lingering over sentiment of the lost past.

Generally, Ngugi is trying to mold the current image of Africa that has been marred (Ngugi believes) by writers such as Joseph Conrad and others who portray the old ways as evil.

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