Critical Context

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

I Will Marry When I Want is a drama that celebrates, in a series of flashbacks, the events of the Mau Mau Revolution that quickened the pace of Kenya’s march toward independence. References are made throughout the drama to the taking of oaths not to betray fellow members of the organization to British authorities or to sell land to the Europeans. After these vows are administered, the initiates pass in pairs through an “arch of banana leaves to the other side.”

Illustration of PDF document

Download I Will Marry When I Want Study Guide

Subscribe Now

These allusions to the Mau Mau are also used as time markers. Kiguunda recalls his courtship of Wangeci as taking place “long before the state of Emergency,” a period from 1952 to 1962 that saw the establishment of the Homeguard and the subsequent arrest and detention of suspected Mau Mau members. The frequent allusions to the martyred Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimaathi, who is praised in songs, contrast with references to the Homeguard, whose ascendancy to power is described as the result of crooked means. Hence, I Will Marry When I Want may be read as a tribute by Ngugi to Mau Mau leaders, those he considers the progenitors of Kenya’s freedom and the rightful heirs of political leadership in postindependence Kenya.

Ngugi’s criticism of the economic policy of Kenya’s leaders in I Will Marry When I Want led to the banning of the play, and was in part the cause of his imprisonment from 1977 to 1979. Originally written in his native language, Gikuyu (or Kikuyu), as Ngaahika Ndeenda, the play was later translated by Ngugi and a fellow writer, Ngugi wa Mirii, into the English version, I Will Marry When I Want

(The entire section contains 419 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this I Will Marry When I Want study guide. You'll get access to all of the I Will Marry When I Want content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Analysis
  • Critical Essays
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial