And the dictators Ngugi talks about are men. Some of these ingredients of dictatorship, for example, are  murder; rape; corruption; greed of the dictator who struggles to centralize, own and control all the resources of his country; decadent masculinity; staunch heterosexuality; male chauvinism; homophobia; religious confusion; political and real illnesses of the dictator; patronage and reliance on foreign military and foreign economic, social, cultural and political support; poverty; unemployment; disease; environmental degradation; and low quality and unpatriotic education. Though fictionalized, one can identify the Ruler in the novel as Kenyatta, Bokassa, Mobutu, Banda, Mugabe, Moi and other African dictators all rolled up in one.

Wizard of the Crow

Ngugi's homecoming gift to Kenyans

By Cabral Pinto

In 2004 Ngugi Wa Thiong'o Came Home After 22 Years in Exile.

Ngugi told Kenyans that his homecoming gift to them was the novel Wizard of the Crow, then in its Gikuyu version. Fundamental changes in a society, including revolution, undertaken and carried out successfully by its people, and led by a patriotic political leadership, constitute one part of the core story and message of Wizard of the Crow.

Ngugi Demystifies Dictatorship by focusing on its Cardinal Ingredients.

And the dictators Ngugi talks about are men. Some of these ingredients of dictatorship, for example, are  murder; rape; corruption; greed of the dictator who struggles to centralize, own and control all the resources of his country; decadent masculinity; staunch heterosexuality; male chauvinism; homophobia; religious confusion; political and real illnesses of the dictator; patronage and reliance on foreign military and foreign economic, social, cultural and political support; poverty; unemployment; disease; environmental degradation; and low quality and unpatriotic education. Though fictionalized, one can identify the Ruler in the novel as Kenyatta, Bokassa, Mobutu, Banda, Mugabe, Moi and other African dictators all rolled up in one.

The Nemesis of Dictatorship is Resistance.

This resistance is led by an organization, the Movement of the Voice of the People. This movement is led by multi-ethnic and multi-racial youth. The central committee of the movement has six male youth and five female youth. The chair of the committee is a woman. The key cadres of the movement are also youth who organize and direct the People's Assembly. These youth are university educated and most of them are unemployed. The movement has a base in the mountains and caves of the Aburiria. The base has farms, an army, library, hospital, and an art museum. Aware of the insecurity of bases because of military exercises carried out by local and foreign troops and the militarization of outer space, the movement relies on the bases of the people, which have no specific location. The ideology and politics of the movement is staunchly anti-dictatorship and anti anything that dictatorship stands for.

In the Resistance Movement Ngugi Glorifies the Leadership of Women and Youth.

The stories about Kamiti, the wizard of the crow, as narrated throughout the novel by AG, are some of the stories young Kenyans heard in the 1950s about Kimaathi Wachiuri, the leader of the Land and Freedom Movement and its armed wing, the Land and Freedom Army. Nyawira in Wizard of the Crow symbolizes the role women played in the Land and Freedom Movement and women's lack of recognition by historians and men of the movement. Nyawira also embodies the qualities Kenyans associated with the leaders and freedom fighters of the Mau Mau. The implied message is that leaders and freedom fighters like those of the Mau Mau have to come back for the resistance to have any meaningful impact.

A Resistance Movement has its Life in the Mobilization of the People to Support its Cause, Ideology and Politics.

The novel has great stories of this mobilization. And the mobilization endures its sacrifices as the dictatorship becomes brutal and murderous. This mobilization, however, glorifies the weaknesses of the dictatorship and draws courage from exposing the dictatorship's insecurities and confusion. The movement, in its mobilization, also recruits allies from the belly of the dictatorship. Intelligence about the dictatorship becomes a life and death struggle of the movement. Again, there are parallels from other resistance movements that actually took place.

Religion in Aburiria is a Contested Terrain.

Aburiria is a fanatically religious country. Religion not only exposes the insecurity and hypocrisy of the dictatorship, but also reinforces the political position that no resistance movement in Aburiria can ignore this religious phenomenon. Indeed, contestation of political power in Aburiria is about which religion and healing powers are more potent and have the following of the people. Again, parallels can be drawn from real life African resistance struggles.

Revolutionary Optimism is the Other Part of the Core Message of Wizard of the Crow.

After the collapse of the Berlin Wall that also signaled the end of the Soviet Empire, the dominant ideology of the world disorder has been that the world has no alternative but to put up with that world disorder. That is the ideology of neo-liberalism fueled by the engine of globalization, of which the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO are a part. Militarism remains the tool of ensuring the world disorder is permanent and unchangeable. International, continental, regional and national resistance to global disorder is in evidence the world over. Aburiria is no exception. In the era of where the propaganda is that alternative systems of government were buried in the rubble of the crushed Berlin Wall, revolutionary optimism is the live blood of any resistance that takes place in any country in the world. Without revolutionary optimism, the first step towards liberation from dictatorships, the world over, cannot be made. In the Wizard of the Crow this revolutionary optimism is excellently portrayed in the existence of the peoples' bases of the Movement for the Voice of the People. In these bases an alternative Aburiria is exemplified and glorified.

What or Who is the Wizard of the Crow?

The core messages and the leadership of the Movement of the Voice of the People and the movement itself collectively constitute what and who the wizard of the crow is. The wizard of the crow individualized in the character of Kamiti, who ultimately becomes a member of the central committee of the movement, does not negate, but underscores, this answer of what or who the wizard of the crow is.

Cabral Pinto is a political scientist and lives in Nairobi.