How do Nghoto and Howlands perceive the land they inhabit in "Weep Not, Child"?

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In Ngugi wa Thiong'o's debut novel Weep Not, Child, the colonialism of present-day Kenya by the British is examined from the perspective of a single black family. The patriarch of the family, Nghoto, is a poor tenant farmer working on a piece of land owned by an Englishman, named Mr. Howlands. The tea plantation that Mr. Howlands owns is Nghoto's ancestral land. This is why Nghoto has a deep connection to the land that he works hard to preserve and maintain. For Nghoto, working on the farm was his duty as the true inheritor of his ancestor's land. This is why Nghoto does not complain, initially, about the low wages. For Nghoto, it is more important to take care of the earth that gave his family, as well as his ancestors before him, abundance.

On the other hand, Mr. Howlands personifies the colonialists who stole the land from the indigenous population. Even if Mr. Howlands had purchased it legally with his own money, or he inherited it from an older relative, the land that he now owns was in some way taken from the locals. Therefore, Mr. Howlands does not have a deep or spiritual connection to the land that he owns. To Mr. Howlands and other Europeans who practiced land-grabbing in the country, these acres of earth are merely assets; they are properties that have a price tag and are only to be used for residential and capital purposes. In this regard, the land is objectified by the European invaders. Acquisition of natural resources was one of the main reasons outsiders colonized Kenya and other parts of Africa in the first place.

When the Mau-Mau uprising occurred—which was born out of several protests by tenant farmers and other locals—the rebellion was not only regarding their mistreatment and low wages, but also a literal and figurative battle for the land they occupy. One side was trying to reclaim the land that traditionally and legally belong to them, and the other side was trying to keep their monopolized agrarian industry alive.

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