30 pages 1 hour read

Ken Saro-Wiwa

Africa Kills Her Sun

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1975

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Important Quotes

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“But more importantly, the knowledge that I have unburdened myself to you will make tomorrow morning’s event as pleasant and desirable to me as to the thousands of spectators who will witness it.”

(Pages 290-291)

Bana’s upcoming execution and decision to write Zole is the story’s inciting incident. The positive feelings engendered by sharing what he knows about himself and the world reveals The Struggle to Overcome Alienation and find a shared connection. This connection is built on the warmth and innocence of childhood. The line also introduces the presence of the spectators, or Bana’s fellow countrymen who have lost their humanity and delight in violence as a spectacle. The antidotes or contrasting elements to the spectators are knowledge, childhood, and recognition.

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“No doubt, many will ask the questions, but they will do it in the safety and comfort of their homes, over the interminable bottles of beer, uncomprehendingly watching their boring, cheap television programs, the rejects of Europe and America, imports to oil their vacuity…And they will forget.”

(Page 291)

Bana characterizes the spectators by their lack of morality, their reliance on numbing comforts, and their fleeting recognition and concern over the health of their society. The damning single line “And they will forget” emphasizes the fickle nature of cultural memory; this forgetfulness develops the theme of The Nature of Imprisonment, where the inability to remember and provide sustained concern keeps the country in shackles.

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“We voted for death. After all, we were armed robbers, bandits. We knew it… We were being honest to ourselves, to our vocation, to our country and to mankind.”

(Page 292)

The scornful irony in this passage lies in Bana’s definition of himself as a robber and bandit; in openly defining himself as such to Zole and the courts, he shows a form of honesty that is at odds with the government’s facade of doling out justice.