Class Stratification and Poverty in Ngugi WA Thiongo’s Petals of Blood and Festus Iyayi’s Violence

Class Stratification and Poverty in Ngugi WA Thiongo’s Petals of Blood and Festus Iyayi’s Violence
Class Stratification and Poverty in Ngugi WA Thiongo’s Petals of Blood and Festus Iyayi’s Violence

ABSTRACT: This research work investigates the depiction of Class Stratification and Poverty in Ngugi WA Thiongo’s Petals of Blood and Festus Iyayi’s Violence. The study examines violence right from the creation of man, there has been class struggle, stratification while poverty gradually crept into the society as the supply of the people was not meeting their demands, thus only those who have what it takes were able to survive and stay above-board. There is the classification between good and evil, male and female, white and black, poor and rich, influential and non-influential, educated and uneducated and so on. The class stratification being looked at in this research however has to do with the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and how this has contributed to the advancement of poverty in society. The two Nigerian novels purposively selected are Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Festus Iyayi’s Violence. The study revealed that, in every social organization, conflict or class struggle is a function of mode of production and that economy is the ultimate determinant of all other aspects of life. The study concluded that, conflict of classes will continue to manifest in capitalist societies unless the masses organize and resist the exploitation through a radical revolution.

The choice of these texts is due to the fact that they belong to different generations of Nigerian writings, thus we considered the views of the two generations on the subjects of discourse. The method of investigation adopted is the critical textual analysis using the Marxist literary theory. The research considered the speeches, actions and events that portray class and poverty. The authors’ intentions and views on these concepts were equally established with the hope of an end goal of finding solutions that will take Africa out of the shackles of poverty and inequality. The paper argues that the portrayal of the working people in the novel by Iyayi tallies with the view of Fanon in his definition of the concept of violence. The paper exposes how the working people class are presented in the novel as those people who are always in the process of asserting their existence through struggling for survival by selling their labour to the capitalists in order to earn a living. The paper blames this act of suffering on colonialism and neo-colonialism imposed on the African people.

 

Class Stratification and Poverty in Ngugi WA Thiongo’s Petals of Blood and Festus Iyayi’s Violence

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Festus Iyayi are African writers whose sensibilities in their novels have been awakened by the inequalities and social injustices in their immediate society. They see social stratification as an ideology in the society not just due to individual differences but by which society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy way. Their writings also reflect on class oppression, corruption and the socio-economic and political milieus that characterize the post-colonial in Kenya and Nigeria.

For instance, Iyayi paints out the humiliation of the working class people in Nigeria and making the reader sympathizes with these wretched of the Nigerian poor masses. He equally paints a critical picture on how the bourgeoisies exploit, oppress and dehumanized the poor masses in post-colonial Nigeria.

On the other hand, Ngugi as Kenyan most prolific novelist dramatizes class stratification, poverty; oppression and exploitation as the two major issues bedevilling the poor people of Kenya. He also portrays how the masses in his environment pass through oppression, corruption, poverty and suffered a high level of class of inequality.

 Due to the exposure of these writers to the atrocities being committed by the capitalists against the poor, their focus is on the ordinary people with whom they seek to liberate from all forms of social injustice. To them, there is the classification between good and evil, male and female, White and Black, poor and rich, influential and non-influential, educated and uneducated and so on. The class stratification being looked at in this research however has to do with the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and how they have contributed to the advancement of poverty in their society.

Again, many social injustices arise in their society such as abject-poverty, electoral violence, exploitation, kidnapping, religious crises, political subjugation, arson and wickedness that man faces in society. If these evils are not properly checked, the monster known as social injustice will continue to eat deep into the fabrics of their society.

 With the above analogy, it is very clear that poverty and class stratification are responsible for the emergence of social injustice and it is the poor that suffers all these injustices. This also form the background to this research work with reference to the novels under investigation.

Class Stratification and Poverty in Ngugi WA Thiongo’s Petals of Blood and Festus Iyayi’s Violence

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Ngugi and Iyayi are on the opinion that until there is a fundamental restructuring of the socio-economic and political bases in Kenya and Nigeria, the numerous problems of the working people will not be effectively tackled. They contends too, that the production, distribution and consumption patterns in their society are grossly faulty; hence, many people are poor, sick, hungry and disillusioned while a handful of exploiters are rich.

The authors’ intentions and views on this apparent class stratification, poverty, oppression and disillusionment of the ordinary man with the political elite in Kenya and Nigeria are their main issue in their works. They also vividly explores in their novels that the joys and enthusiasm that heralded the political independence of their society and African as a whole is soon replaced with a feeling of betrayal and hopelessness.

The political leaders that ‘fought’ the colonialists soon indulge in the vices of the colonialists, in some cases, even worse. Their primary concern is how to enhance their personal comfort instead of the collective welfare of the people. They aims of their novels hope of an end goal of finding solutions that will take Africa out of the shackles of poverty and inequality.

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