Why is the land and river so important in the The River Between?

The land and river are so important in The River Between as they constitute the homeland of the Kikuyu. Together, they constitute the place where the tribe has lived for centuries, a sacred space where they carry out many of their most important rituals.

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The land and river give the Kikuyu a sense of place. This is an ancient landscape where they have lived since time immemorial. The land and river are not just features of the environment, they are imbued with great historical and cultural significance. In common with many African tribes, the Kikuyu look upon the natural world with reverence, seeing it as populated by spirits. This helps to explain why there's hostility toward the White man taking their land. In doing so, the White man isn’t just appropriating what doesn’t belong to him, he’s also disturbing the delicate balance of natural and supernatural forces that has existed in this part of the world since time out of mind. Simply put, the White man is committing sacrilege.

The river is especially important to the Kikuyu as it is the place where so many of their most important rituals take place. For instance, rites of passage such as circumcision and initiation rituals regularly take place there. These rituals reinforce the already strong connection that the Kikuyu have forged with the river over many, many years. The river is so much more than a body of water; it is every bit as sacred as the land and has a commensurate level of cultural significance.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on July 24, 2020
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