Events begin in an African village. Nyobi laments to Thoni that her younger son has chosen to live in the distant big city, ignoring his obligations at home. Remi’s extended absence imposes even more pain upon his wife, who longs to bear a child. The leader of the village comes to Nyobi to explain his intention to travel to the city and persuade Remi to return. Remi is their best hope for acquiring national political advantage. He believes that Remi’s decision to leave resulted from Christian training, which undermined his loyalty to the traditional ways. To buttress his appeal, he seeks the blessing of Remi’s mother. Nyobi acquiesces hesitantly; in spite of her yearning for her son’s return, she is uncomfortable about the elders’ motives and pagan beliefs. She worries that she may have been manipulated and begs the pastor for advice. He agrees that the village Christians also need Remi’s presence. He, in turn, decides to seek out Remi and urge him to come home.
Act 2 is set in the city, where Remi is involved with a white South African woman, who is seeking to purge herself of the racism of her country by embracing a black lover. City life is already beginning to pall on Remi, for both personal and political reasons. He expresses his disenchantment in a political debate with his friend Omange, arguing that tribalism undermines the ideal of a united nation. Subsequent, more personal conversation reveals that Remi’s departure was based not only on his shame because he urged his village to vote for a regime that turned out to be corruptly self-serving but also on a more intimate motivation. When Thoni was widowed by the death of Remi’s brother, Remi accepted his traditional family obligation and was married to her. This marriage was not, however, a mere formal convenience for Remi. He was passionately in love with Thoni but had been too shy to express his feelings. While he...
(The entire section is 779 words.)