4.1.1 The stride from Despair to Hope (Pessimistic to Optimistic)
A paradigm shift is a defining change in an individual’s perception of reality, commonly occurring when a person’s way of thinking or way of doing something is disrupted and altered. In regard, the paradigm shift concept was evident throughout Ng?g? wa Thiong’o’s piece Matigari. Centralizing around the theme of revolution, specifically that of positive outcomes, the author demands ultimate change for his society by implication of Matigari’s justice-seeking mindset. The novel tells the story of a freedom fighter, Matigari, that returns from the forest in the dawn of neo-colonialism within his society. As a story of liberation that provides a review of the history of Africa, Matigari accounts of the life of the African people confronted with cultural, economic, and social enslavement. In the pursuit of a peaceful life in his future, Matigari’s focus shifts towards seeking for truth and justice, as he finds discomfort in seeing the maltreatment of his people. Individuals were placed into jail without sufficient reason, such prisoners were once teachers who had been arrested and accused of teaching Marxism and communism in school. Having found his country in such a crisis, Matigari began to devise moral inspiration to unite against the neo-colonialism that he perceived to taint his country. Within the translated piece, Matigari, Ng?g? wa Thiong’o inspires the reader to recognise the reality of a grim post-colonial society with an underlying desire for liberation, by portraying Matigari as a guide that directs people away from the materialism of capitalism and towards truth and justice, as can be seen through the prophet motif and liberational subplot.
The suffering of Matigari’s people holds to be a recurring theme throughout the novel. By achieving a tone of displeasure, by the African people, through the portrayment of neo-colonialism after independence; Thiong’o inspires the reader to share the viewpoint of the general African public. By doing such, Thiong’o can then provide a more authentic reality of the injustice that was experienced by Matigari’s people. “How can the tiller go on working for the benefit of those-who- reap-where-they-never-sowed? Yesterday it was the whites. Today they have been joined by some blacks.’ Matigari walked into the restaurant and sat down. He ordered a cup of tea. ‘My friends! Tell me where in this country one can find truth and justice” (Thiong’o 75). This statement provides evidential circumstance of the people being under the controlling regime of neo-colonialism. The visionary, Matigari, continues to consistently challenge the capitalistic behavior of the colonialists by encouraging people to to recognize his perception. The metaphorical expression spoken by Matigari in the story as “there is no night so long that it does not end with dawn” (11) dwels on his and his people’s hope for a better tomorrow.
In the story, the author reveals the solid identity and the quest of the people to get the right justice and truth after independence. There is a national struggle for land, true independence, freedom from new settlers and the so-called leaders after colonialism. The highest peak of resistance will always stand as a memorial of the protagonist characters commitment and courage. Matigari’s patriotism for his country and his people haunted his soul; he is depicted as a returned hero after a long absence unlike, the society he met, he is never afraid to preach what the right truth and justice should be. His grace, his compassion, his love, his patience, his peacefulness, gentleness are all the qualities of Christ. At the beginning of the novel, the society seems to be under fear and disillusionment due to the presence of greedy, selfish and dictator leadership. People were pessimistic and feel despair at the beginning and tried to resist Matigari’s progress. However, due to his strong commitment and determination, he miraculously agitates people, teaches the harmfulness of neo-colonialism and inspires the society with full courage and bright vision.
You want to know what I plan to do? I tell you, for I have nothing to hide. I have come back to the people girded with a belt of peace; a farmer whose seeds have not germinated does not give up planting. A person who seeks justice never tires of the search until he finds it. Truth never dies; therefore, truth will reign in the end, even if it does not reign today. My house is my house. I am only after what I have built with my own hands. Tomorrow belongs to me. I invite you to my house the day after tomorrow. Come to feast and celebrate our homecoming! My thirst and hunger are not for material things. My only thirst and hunger are to do with my troubled spirit. I have traveled far and wide looking for truth and justice’ (Ibid., P.94).
Matigari has traveled the length of breadth of his country looking for truth and justice to convince, people to protest against neo-colonialism his hope, his determination, his mission and goal to rebuild a country as new Jerusalem, makes him different from other characters who are portrayed in Ngugi’s earlier novels.
Between producers and parasites, there will never’ be peace or unity or love. Never! Supposing our forefathers and foremothers had behaved as if they had no eyes to see no ears to hear and no tongues to speak? Where the would be today? Yesterday, yes only yesterday. I would be able to find the truth of peace; I would be able to find truth and justice in this country. For it has been said that truth and justice are mightier than an armed power (Ibid. P.138).
The word ‘parasite’ in the above extract refers to landlords who are exploiting workers’ labor’ or wage. The above extract also intensifies that no more tolerance and frustration like previous foremothers and fathers the hero is committed enough to bring real justice and truth in the country. The character is non-materialist since he is seeking truth and justice which are necessary for all people in common.
And you, imperialist, and you servant Boy-with all your other lackeys, ministers and leaders of the police force, the army and the courts, the prisons and the administration-your days are numbered! I shall come back tomorrow. We are the patriots who survived Matigari Ma Njiruungi, and many more of us are being born each day. Jon Boy, you shall not keep in my house again. It’s either you or I and the future belongs to me!’ (Ibid., 124).
Here, Matigari is hopeful in rebuilding his country. There is no a sense of disillusionment in his progression, even if the government and the so-called ministry of truth tried to preach the society as Britain and the European community have given the country a loan of several million pounds for the development of the administration, the society stands by the side of Matigari. Ngugi in the story of Matigari prefers the character to wear a belt of peace since he 30 believes that the enemy, who is driven out peacefully, by negotiations, never comes back; but the one driven out by force alone always comes back. Ngugi supports the saying that goes “truth and justice are mightier than any armed power.”
Matigari gradually persuades the society by creating awareness of the presence of neocolonialism which hinders the country’s development.
‘The builder builds a house, the one who watched while it was built and moves into it. The builder sleeps in the open air. The tailor makes clothes, the one who does not even know how to thread a needle wears clothes…. The workers produce goods. Foreigners and parasites dispose of them. The worker is left empty-handed. So where are truth and justice on this earth? (Ibid., P.113).
This and many other expressions in the story manifest the presence of huge corruption in the country. So, Ngugi’s reflection in the novel seems serious in bringing social, economic, and political freedom. The author suggests this kind of economic, political and social crisis could be found in all most all African countries since there are dictators, greedy and selfish leaders as it is mentioned in the story. Yesterday it was whites and today some blacks who exploit the country. In addition, the story of Matigari is taking place in an unnamed country, this by implication refers all African countries. Therefore, in capitalist societies, the most vulnerable people are proletariats. So, to struggle this phenomenon, the protagonist characters show strong commitment and hope in his search for truth and justice to be seen in the country unlike Ngugi’s earlier characters in his earlier novels.