YEAR: 2002



The novel/narrative is about a form four leaver called Joe, who is the protagonist of the story (main character).  He has got a post and he is about to be interviewed. On the day of the interview he finds to have waked up late. This makes him skip his breakfast. He does each and everything in hurry to make sure that he arrives at the interview on time.

On the way to the interview, he witnesses an accident in which a mad woman nicknamed as “cucu” is knocked by a Matatu. Because of his loyalty he decides to postpone his journey to the interview and saves the woman (cucu). He makes sure that the woman is at the hospital for treatment. After that he goes to the interview while it is too late. Mr. Daniel Kungu, the Manager of the Company (Elephant Company) dismisses Joe from the interview because of being late.

After being dismissed from the interview, Joe’s brother (David) finds a job for his younger brother (Joe). He eventually gets a post in the national library for his young brother (Joe). Joe seems to be not interested with such a job i.e. being a librarian but he accepts it because he is in need of money to fulfill his financial requirements. For instance he wants to collect his certificates at school but he didn’t clear his debt and his parents died during the land clash (conflict).

Therefore Joe becomes a librarian. He works at the Library and at the same time he pays a visit to the hospital i.e. to get information about “cucu”. He is wondering to see that he loves the woman very much like his grandmother. He keeps on thinking of her every time. When he is at the hospital, he witnesses another accident. The accident is that, An HIV /AIDS Victim is committing suicide by jumping off the balcony of the eighth floor. Joe is informed that the person who committed suicide is the pastor.

We also see the Doctor (Dr. Ochieng) tries to educate Joe on how to avoid HIV using condoms, being faithful and having and HIV test before getting married.

People are blinded not to know HIV /AIDS e.g. the author narrates that Joe meets with his friend Gladwell. They had not seen each other since the funeral of Gladwell’s sister whom they believe that she died of TB, something which is not true. The truth is that she died of HIV/ AIDS.

In chapter 7, things begin to rise, Joe is in the library, reading the past newspapers, and he eventually discovers that there is an announcement in the newspaper. The announcement is attached with cucu’s picture. It seems to have been written about one year ago. It announces that “cucu” (the old woman) gone missing her home a month ago. It is announced by Johnson K. Njogu. He promises a reward of 100, 000/= Kshs to the one who had information about “cucu” (his mother) such information.

Later on they discover that Joe is their relative and as the result they congratulate him (Joe) for his loyalty. That is to save cucu’s life despite his poverty. Johnson K. Njogu eventually rewards him (Joe) 240,000/=Kshs. Instead of 100,000/= which was announced in the newspaper.

The story ends with “cucu” has returned home. Joe discovers that he has very rich relatives i.e. Johnson K. Njogu (his uncle), who is the owner of elephant companies. Daniel Kung’u, who dismissed him from the interview is a cousin of Joe’s late father (Bernard Kung’u) and the woman he saved (cucu) is his really grandmother


The following themes (experiences) have been revealed in the story.

Family disintegration

This refers to the situation in which a family breaks into small parts or pieces and be destroyed. This is much revealed in this book. Joe’s family is disintegrated. The woman whom he is saving is his really grandmother. He also fails to discover that Daniel Kung’u, who is the manager of City soap Industries, is the cousin to his late father (Bernard Kung’u). Daniel Kung’u also fails to discover that Joe is his relative, that’s why he dismisses his (Joe) from the interview.

The owner of soap companies (elephant companies) is Joe’s uncle, but  Joe didn’t knew this before, that’s why he was seeking a job to get money for clearing his school debt so as to get certificates. Family disintegration is much proved in the novel when we see the young Joe together with his relatives live in extreme poverty failing to discover that Mr Njogu, the wealthiest man in the land and the owner of elephants group of companies is their blood uncle, their father’s elder brother.

Loyalty vs. disloyalty

This is the state of being true and faithfully in one’s support. While disloyalty is the opposite of being loyal. In the story Joe seems to be loyal, for instance, the Matatu driver knocks the mad woman and he doesn’t help her but Joe who was late to the interview, decides to postpone his journey to the interviews and saved the woman (cucu). Then after making sure that “cucu” is at the hospital for treatment, he goes back to the interview.

At the interview he is dismissed by Daniel Kung’u because it was too late. Loyalty is also shown by Dr. Ochieng as he tries to make sure that he saves that woman’s life. Apart from that he (Dr. Ochieng) tries to counsel Joe on how to be aware of AIDS.  Disloyalty is shown by other people including the Matatu driver who knocks the woman without saving her.  Gladwell (Joe’s friend) is not loyal as he discourages. Joe on saving “cucu” he is mocking Joe by saying “He is behaving like “red cross”


This refers to the act of favoring people i.e. relatives or friends by giving them job opportunities or any advantageous thing. This is revealed in the story. Joe’s brother (David) finds a librarian post to his young (Joe) because there is friendship between David and the Chief Librarian (Julius Kimeu). Also the owner of elephant company (Johnson K. Njogu) employs his cousin (Daniel Kung’u) as the personnel manager.

Also having discovered that is their relative, they reward him Kshs. 240,000/-instead of Kshs 100,000/- which was announced in a newspaper. They also promise Joe a job, while at first (Before knowing him).  The practice of nepotism is regarded as another form of corruption and it has become so popular in most of the societies as far as African continent is concerned since many people have been getting employment favor just because the concerned boss is his/her closest friend or family member.


This refers to the sense of togetherness that exists in members of the society. The author portrays this by showing Jotham who struggles to support his sister’s children by providing domestic needs. Dr. Ochieng’ encourages Joe to keep on with spirit of supporting the old mad woman in hospital.

David, Joe and sisters are still united by assisting one another despite the death of their parents. Also Johnson Njogu united the family of Benard Kungu by making them stable. In our society, family members, friends and other relatives normally tend to unite one another in many issues especially in ceremonies and other matters by helping one another.


Selfishness refers to the act of getting concerned with only your needs and wishes without taking into consideration the other people who may be in need of your assistance. In the novel, the author has shown Gladwell who is a selfish by discouraging Joe from visiting the old woman to the extent of mocking him that he behaves like the Red Cross.

Also, the pedestrians are selfish because they never volunteered to help the old woman after the accident instead they continue with their own business. The driver of the matatu is a selfish because he never stops after knocking down the old mad woman. Also, most of the people are selfish because they become attracted with the reward of Ksh. 100,000/= while they are not aware where the old woman is.


Refers to serious disagreement or clash between different aims, interests, ideas or people. From the book the author has portrayed different types of conflicts as listed here below;

Social conflict as a type of conflict in which people or groups behaves and interact. Good example is social conflict during the ethnic cleansing in Molo. So many people were killed and houses were burnt as a result of this conflict. For instance, Joe’s parents’ society from Uasin Gishu is having a serious social conflict with people in Molo and immigrants. This leads Joe and his siblings to lose their parents and later family disintegration.

Psychological conflict: This is sometimes known as personal conflict. It is also a type of conflict existing only in human mind. In the book, the author presents personal conflict by using the main character, Joe Kimani. He is shown thinking all the time about the old woman “Cucu” who has been knocked by a car (matatu). To this he was always thing on himself where did the strange old woman come from?, who was she?, where was she going? What droves her insane? And who were her relatives.

Other conflicts include personal conflict like a conflict between Joe and Gladwel because of Joe’s frequent visit to hospital to look after the old mad woman. Conflict between Joe and pedestrians who never become concerned especially in helping the old mad woman after been knocked by Matatu.


Luck refers to success especially when it is unexpected in the story. It is the act of developing the events outside a person’s control which is regarded as decided by supernatural power. On the other hand, it refers to a kind of fortunate fate that brings good things to happen.

Joe seems to be a very lucky person for instance he is dismissed from the interview but in the end of the story we see that, those who dismissed him consider him as a very loyal person because he has saved his grandmother (their mother). They eventually offer him a job opportunity. Wonderful enough the owner of the company in which he was dismissed is his uncle.


Hypocrisy refers to the act of making oneself to falsely appear to be virtuous or good (better). In the book, the author has shown that Gladwell is  a hypocrite because she agrees to escort Joe to the hospital by pretending to be closer to him while not because at first she was against the tendency of Joe’s regular visit to know how the old woman was going on.

Also, the pastor is a hypocrite because, ideally, religious people like pastor is not supposed to engage in sexual relations, instead we see a pastor committing suicide because of been a HIV/victim.


Refers to the state of being extremely poor such that a person fails to take care of his/her basic needs. Poverty can be the source of all other evils in the society such as theft, robbery and prostitution. The author reveals this by citing Joe who completes his O-level education but fails to clear the school’s dues (debt) that is why he is by hook or by crook seeking a job opportunity in order to get money necessary to get money to collect his certificate.

Also the author proves this by showing on the way joe replies to Mr Njogu’s question that I’m poor my brother, who has provided fees for me since primary school can no longer afford to pay for my college too, we owe my former school about 40,000/=Ksh in fee areas without which they can’t release my certificate.


This refers to the act of not showing a proper sense of responsibility.  Responsiveness is shown by Joe’s uncle (Uncle Jonathan) the way he is responsible to take care of his sister’s children ie Joe, David, Lucy and Marry. He helps them morally and materially.

David is also responsive for example having discovered that his young brother (Joe) is dismissed from the interview he tries to find him and their job. As the result Joe gets a librarian post through his brother’s (David) help. Therefore they both try to help each other despite being orphans. Dr Ochieng is also responsive as he achieves to save cucu’s life when she was brought to the hospital.


This refers to an act of misleading people to make them believe something which is not true. It is revealed in the story. For instance Georgina, (Gladwell’s sister) died of AIDS, but other people were made to believe that he was died of TB (Tuberculosis). They were deceived in order to avoid bad reputation from the people.


The Author narrates a bit about AIDS using a person who believed to be a pastor. The pastor discovers that he is HIV positive. As the result he decides to commit suicide by jumping from the eight floor. Apart from that we see Georgina (Gladwell’s sister) dying of HIV/AIDS but people are made to believe that she died of TB. We also see Dr. Ochieng.

Trying to give Joe an advice on how to protect himself from being affected by HIV/AIDS that is using condom or being loyal and or having an HIV test before marrying

The pastor decides to commit suicide because of fear of bad reputation from community people

Also Georgina was assigned to have died of TB. In order to avoid bad reputation form the people. Therefore from the story people are not transparent on HIV/AIDS. That is, they do not want other people to understand it. So that they can avoid it. This is dangerous to any society.


The author has portrayed the following position of women;

A woman as a family mother.

In this novel, a woman is portrayed as a mother of the family. This is well portrayed in our book taking reference from Wacheke, popularly known as Cucu. She was the mother of six children including four daughters and two sons.

A woman as health officer.

The author shows that Mildred Awiti as the nurse working at National General Hospital along with Dr. Ochieng. She is an active nurse who deals with her patients in a good manner. Consider this quotation when she was narrating Joe about Cucu”s condition proves how active Nurse Mildred is “I’m afraid she hasn’t work up since you brought her this morning. Otherwise she is stable. Her breathing is normal! And her heartbeat is ok. We have given her treatment for her bruises, and I guess she‘ll be fine. (pg 31).

A woman as a brave person.

A brave person is the one having or showing courage in facing danger or pain. This position is related to Joe’s mother, Nancy Mwihaki who dared to help her dear husband Bernard Kungu, Joe’s father who was dying from an arrow wound when the marauders raided their homestead during the ethnic cleansing in Molo.

Joe’s mother’s brave is evidenced in the following quotation.“His brave mother- God bless her soul- had tried to help their father, who was dying from an arrow wound, when another arrow hit her in the back. After that life had changed drastically for Joe and his siblings” (pg:63)

A woman as a security officer.

The author has shown a woman as a security officer responsible for ensuring peace and security in the society. Good example of this in the story is an active and responsible woman known as officer Commanding Station, Chief Inspector Margaret Kinyua.


The lesson we get is that being loyal is advantageous than disadvantageous. In the novel Joe’s loyalty leads him into achieving his goals i.e. to get money and job opportunities.

Secondly, we shouldn’t compare HIV/AIDS with death since one may live with AIDS until he dies unlike what the pastor did i.e. to commit suicide just because he has got HIV/ AIDS

Thirdly we should be transparent on HIV/AIDS, so that people can be aware of infections. For instance in the novel, people aren’t transparent. Georgina dies of HIV/AIDS but people are made to believe that it was TB.



He is the main character of the book

He lost his parents due to land clashes and their bodies were not found

He is a very kind boy as he saved life of an old woman despite being late for the interview

He was dismissed by Daniel Kungu at the interview

He completed secondary education with some balance of school fees.

He is a hard worker as well as committed boy as he struggles to look for the job

He fallows in love to Gladwell

He is a wise person and quick to action.

He got a reward from Johnson Njogu after saving life of his mother.

He represents people cares other’s success.


She is mental disturbed old lady, she is like this ever since she heard the death of her husband (Kibe)

She is knocked by a Matatu while crossing the road where she was rescued by Joel who took her to hospital.

She is the mother of Benard Kungu and Johnson Kungu the billionaire and paternal grandmother to Joe.

She went mad crazy following the death of her husband (Kibe) killed during ethnic clashes in Molo.

She lived in a refugee camp to Nakuru.

She is a kindness old woman because she considered Joe’s assistance he made to her.


He is the elder brother to Joe s well as his brother and the son of Benard Kungu.

He is a kind and loving relative as he cares about Joe to get the job.

He became disappointed o-f his young brother (Joe) after being dismissed out from the job.

He represents people who consider other’s achievement.


She is Joe’s girl friend as well as the sister to the late Georgina who died of HIV/AIDS

She is selfish as she become happy with the delay of Joe to the interview making her secure job

She calls Joe as a red cross due to his assistance to the old mad woman who got an accident and his regular visit to hospital

She is a hypocrite because she at first mocking Joe’s assistance to the old woman but later accompanied him for the collection of the reward to Johhnson Njongu

She represents people who do not care on others’ benefit


He is a personnel manager of city industries where Joe went late for the interview

He is a cousin to Bernard Kung’u who indeed is Joe’s late father

He is cruel and strict man because he dismisses Joe’s excuse reporting late for the interview without knowing that he (Joe) saved his grandmother)

Refuses to hire Joe because of being late. He is also not aware of their blood relationship

He represents group of people who hold top leadership position but do not considering other’s problems.


He is the billionaire and the wealthiest man in the city who owns companies.

The son of the old lady went to abroad;

He owns elephant group of companies including the company where Joe went and dismissed for the interview

He is an educated person, he studied in USA.

He is the son of the old mad woman whom Joe saved from the accident unawares of the blood relationship they had

He is Joel’s uncle

He gives Joe a reward of K. shs. 240,000/= for assisting in finding his mother who disappeared from home almost a year ago.

He is a kind man because he united the family which had separated long time ago

He is a nepotistic because he offers a job to Joe after realizing that he is his uncle


He is a doctor at the National hospital where the old mad woman was admitted.

He is a kind and loving man as he shown maximum cooperation to save the old woman’s life.

He counseled Joe on how to keep away from HIV/AIDS by telling its symptoms, causative and preventive measures.

He represents people within our society who care people to develop and excel well.


He is the maternal uncle to Joel, David, Lucy and Mary (Joel’s sister).

He is a kind as well as very loving man because he cares about his sister’s children to attend school.

He lives in a moderate kind of life that’s why he failed to pay all school fees to Joe but ensures that his nephews and nieces get education by providing domestic needs.

He represents people in the families who become hearted with others despite not being their bloody son.

Other characters

Dr. Ochieng, Mildred (nurse) and Freddie Mwasi (medic)

-Workers at the National Hospital

-Help to hospitalize the old lady after an accident

Mercy, Inspector Kilonzo, Geofrey, (the chauffer)



The novelist has made the use of direct title as it can be seen to Joseph Kimani (Joe) being late to the interview because of saving the old lady’s life, Gladwell is seen in the office of Mr. Daniel Kung’u as well as other interviewees are seen with their envelopes and papers ready for an interview


It is the real setting of Kenya, this is because the text has made the use of words like Nairobi and Mombasa which real exist in one the East African countries called Kenya.


The novel is not straight forward narrated as it is very rich in Flashback, example Joe narrates the past events to the medic (Freddie Mwasi) about the life on their large farm in Kondoo area of Burnt Forest in the Rift Valley and how his family went apart due to ethnic cleansing where later on the novel continues. It is the same case to the old lady after getting from hospital.


The choice of Swahili words example, “very sad, pole sana” said by Mr. Njogu to Joe (Pg 85). There is also the use of other non- English word like matatu to mean public vehicle. The uses of acronyms example, “VIP” that stand for Very Important Person “HIV” that stands for Human Immune deficiency Virus and “AIDS” which stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The uses of imagery devices example simile to create mental picture example, “The old lady is as fit as a fiddle” (Page 38) The choice of words that imitate sounds (onomatopoeia), example  “Aunteeeee!  Ankoo is calling you” When the child calls out her aunt after picking Joe’s call.


This refers to the set of mental pictures produced by the memory or imagination or conjured up by a stimulus. In this novel, the author has used various kinds of imageries; some of them are auditory (sound) imagery and olfactory (smell) imagery.


This is a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words. The writer has used an idiom in this book for the sake of enriching his work of art. Idiom in this story has been used by Dr. Ochieng when he answers Joe’s question about Cucu’s progress at the hospital as follow;

Joe: “Yes, how is she?”

Dr. ochieng: “You will not believe it. She is as a fiddle” (pg: 38)

In the above quotation the word fit as a fiddle is an idiom which is used when saying somebody in a very good physical condition.



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