30 pages 1 hour read

Ken Saro-Wiwa

Africa Kills Her Sun

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1975

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The Nature of Imprisonment

The Nature of Imprisonment, a major theme in “Africa Kills Her Sun,” is reflected in both Bana’s literal imprisonment in his cell and the overarching imprisonment of his country due to selfishness, corruption, and exploitation. This theme and carceral setting are prevalent in other works by Saro-Wiwa in which the protagonist illuminates the layers of imprisonment under which he and his countrymen find themselves.

While Britain’s exploitation of oil and other resources led to colonialism—another form of exploitation and imprisonment—this story focuses on the imprisonment that follows colonialism, wherein African citizens are exploiting, hurting, and neglecting one another. Bana also alludes to the fact that this self-sabotage and corruption has been present throughout the country’s lifespan: “In every facet of our lives—in politics, in commerce and in the professions—robbery is the base line. […] In the early days, our forebears sold their kinsmen into slavery for minor items such as beads, mirrors, alcohol and tobacco” (296).

Bana reveals how all the characters in the story are, in their own way, imprisoned. The High Judge, guard, spectators, and people at home are all prisoners of the government.