Devil On The Cross – Ngugi Wa Thiongo – Part 1

The Devil on the Cross, Ngugi exposes the Devil of neo-colonialism, capitalism and exploitation by bringing out a Devil’s feast where the local thieves and robbers and their international allies come together to narrate their thieving experiences. It is in this light that the author calls this Devil to be nailed on the cross, hence the need for liberation.

The novel also shows a class struggle between the poor and the rich, the exploited and the exploiters. During the Devil’s feast, we are confronted with boastful thieves and robbers in the cave and there is co-operation between the foreign thieves and robbers and the Kenyan local bourgeoisie. But the energetic tough Kenya masses with a sense of political consciousness to liberate their country invade the cave and they want to put the Devil on the cross, nail and kill.

Significance of the title to the novel.

The title, Devil on the cross is taken from the dream Wariinga gets several times. In this dream, the devil of capitalism is responsible for theft, murder, exploitation, oppression / suppression, prostitution and other evils that bedevil the Kenyan society. After three days, the rich people come, lift the devil from the cross, pray to him and beseech him to give his robes of cunning. “She saw first the darkness curved open at one side to reveal a cross, which hung in air. Then she saw a crowd of people dressed in rags walking in the light, propelling the Devil towards the cross. The Devel was clad in a silk suit…….. on his head were seven horns. The belly sagged as if it were about to give birth to all evils of the world. His skin was red like that of that of a pig.” This description is intended to portray white men who left their legacy with the Africans to whom they passed skills of theft and robbery.

In the above dream, the white capitalists are depicted as the devils while the Africans who crave for the cunning robes from the imperialists are the devil’s angels who degenerate into devils, thieves, and robbers. They need to be crucified as explained below;