Women
Question in Neo-Colonial Communities

Ngugi wa Thiongo firmly
stresses in Devil On The Cross that
women are generally refused to be a member of the society thus disintegrated
from the community in almost every neo-colonial country. In other words, men
treat women as human beings who have low importance and deny their rights in
the society. That is, the new masters of Kenya, namely local elites, follow the
very paths of their predecessors who made black women to experience double fold
of otherness. In the novel, Ngugi particularly presents Jacintha Wariinga and
Karendi to make a detailed analysis of the conditions of women in neo-colonial
countries.

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First of all, Wariinga, who
lives in Ilmorog, is an unemployed woman. Although she has many skills such as
typing, she is still unable to find a job and earn some money to survive. As
Waringa cannot find a job in her hometown, she goes to Nairobi in order to find
a well paid and secure job:Although Wariinga goes to the capital city of Kenya
and does not have a high level of expectation, she once more fails to find a
job even there. When she applies for a job for the first time, a European man
tells her that “there were no jobs for her” (42). Wariinga believes that she is
refused just because she is a black woman. Therefore, she wants to raise her
chance and she tries to contact with black bosses as she thinks they will give
her a job since they are the members of the same clan:Apparently the decision that Wariinga made was very
logical as she believes that the white men were jealous of the black women who
were strong enough to have a role in the society. Also, black men, according to
Wariinga, would be glad to accept the integration of their own clan’s women
into the society. However, she would be disappointed once more, because the
response of the black man was almost identical with that of the white man:43).

Although she was in an expectation of a good result,
two black men’s strange behaviours against Wariinga made her to have a sense of
total disillusion. Ngugi states that not only Wariinga but also all Kenyan
women were betrayed by the reactions of two black men. What is more agonizing
is that there are many Kenyan men who believe that there is nothing a woman will
be able to do with the exception of “spreading their legs” (42) and this
strengthens the positions of men in the society. Wariinga stresses this false
accusation as follows:In spite of the biases of not only white men but also
their own black men, Wariinga does not stop her efforts for a job and finally
she gets a job at the Champion Construction company which is managed by Boss
Kihara. At first sight this can be regarded as something positive, but as
Wariinga describes the condition of her house, her bitterness comes into light:
“On Saturday morning Wariinga was visited by her landlord, the owner of the house
in Ofafa Jericho, Nairobi in which she rented a room. (A house or a bird’s
nest? The floor was pitted with holes, the walls gaped with cracks, the ceiling
leaked.)” (10). Moreover, at the end Wariinga was fired from not only the
company but also from her room mainly due to the fact that she refused Kihara
to sleep with which can be observed in the conversation that takes place
between Gaturia, Wariinga and Wangari:As the given quotation indicates Boss Kihara and his
ideology is one of the great barriers against the integration of women into the
society. In addition to this, Wariinga is also left by her boyfriend, John
Kimwana who falsely accuses Wariinga to be Kihara’s mistress: “That evening
Wariinga was abandoned by her boyfriend John Kimwana” (10). However, Wariinga
never stops her fight to take a place and have a role in the society.
Particularly, when she refuses to bed with Kihara, she becomes the symbol of
all neo-colonial women trying to have a position in the community by not as an
object of pleasure, but by only working and contributing to the development of
the society.

            All
in all, towards the end of the novel, Wariinga experiences a great
transformation and becomes a militant to defend women’s rights:The second female character whom Ngugi presents in
order to show the problems that women experience to be a part of the
neo-colonial society is Karendi. She is Waringa’s best friend and a perfect
learner who has many struggles to get the level of Form Four and she gets her
EACE, a prestigious certificate showing her success in Swahili, English and
religion: “… So Kareendi bites her lips decisively and goes back to school.
She makes steady progress and reaches Form
Four. She sits the Cambridge or School
Certificate and she gets her EACE, a certificate to indicate that she has
passed in English, Swahili and Religion” (18). In addition to a very good
education background, her family also sends her to Nairobi secretarial school
where she learns typing and shorthand and in a few months she becomes an
expert:After having so many and unique qualifications,
Kareendi starts looking for a job: “Kareendi now tramps all over Nairobi
looking for a job. Armed with her pitman’s skills, she enters one office after
another. However, her case is not very different from that of Wariinga’s. In
her first job interview, she meets with Mr. Boss who tells her that they should
go to a bar to discuss the case more fully:In fact, Kareendi knows that Mr. Boss’s invitation is
the first step of woo, and she refuses because she knows the real target of Mr.
Boss is her thighs. However, it is not surprising for Kareendi as she knows all
Kenyan men have the same opinion which indicates that if a woman wants to have
a job, she should sleep with her boss. Kareendi deeply experiences this very same
bitter fact as she continuous to look for a job:In spite of her efforts to get a job, and being
refused by two Mr. Bosses, one morning she is offered a job even without having
to visit “Hotel For Modern Love”. Her new boss is Mr. Kihara, the managing
director of a firm. Since Kareendi has had some struggles to find a job, she
does her best to do her tasks carefully and by this way her boss will not find
any way to dismiss her and their relationship is a very good one at the
beginning. However, soon enough Mr. Kihara starts treating her as if she were
his lover: “Now just as Kareendi is thinking that her life is running very
smoothly, Mr Boss Kihara begins to sound her out with carefully chosen words.
One day he comes into her office… He says: by the way Miss Kareendi, what are
your plans for this weekend? I would like you to accompany me on a small
safari-what do you say to that?” (21) Moreover, another day, Mr. Boss invites
Kareendi to stay in his own office after five oclock, and he pretends that she
will help him to type and send some letters. As she does not want to lose her
job, she stays, but it turns out to be something different: “Kareendi waits.
Five oclock. Boss Kihara is in his office, drafting letters, perhaps.  Siz oclock. Everyone else has gone home.
Kihara calls for Kareendi. He asks her to take a seat so that they can talk”
(21) As it is seen, working overtime is a new strategy in order to trap her
secretary. In other words, Kihara is still in search of an opportunity to sleep
with Kareendi which he reveals more clearly while asking her to type letters:Although Kihara is as talented as a poet to seduce any
woman and rape her, Kareendi refuses him. As Mr. Boss hates failure he
dismisses her from his company. Consequently, Kareendi is another victim of
neo-colonial Kenyan men.

            In
short, in neo-colonial countries there is a great exploitation, and women
suffer the most because of this exploitation. The new masters namely the local
elites are even worse than their predecessors as they regard the women as
solely objects of pleasure. 

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