“Weep Not, Child” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a novel set in colonial Kenya during the period of the Mau Mau Uprising. The story examines issues of inequality for dispossessed Africans, and focuses on the consequences that resistance to white rule has for the family of a farm worker.
Ngotho works for Mr. Howlands, a white man and the region’s biggest land owner. Despite his lowly position, he has a deep affinity with his ancestral land.
Ngotho and his family live on land belonging to Jacobo, a rich black African who has benefited from his dealings with the white settlers. The story’s protagonist is Njoroge, the son of Ngotho and the only member of the family to attend school.
One day, the workers on Mr. Howlands' land decide to strike for higher pay. Against his family’s wishes, Ngotho agrees to join them despite the possibility he could lose his job if the strike goes ahead. When Jacobo arrives to talk to the workers in an attempt to end the strike, Ngotho, uncharacteristically, is moved to violence and attacks him. As a result of his impulsiveness, Ngotho loses his job, and he and his family are forced off Jacobo’s land; a turn of events that leaves Njoroge embarrassed by his father’s actions.
When Jacobo is later found murdered, both Ngotho and Njoroge are suspected of involvement in his death, and are interrogated and beaten. Unbeknownst to Njoroge, his two brothers are the ones responsible for Jacobo’s death.
After his father dies from the injuries he sustained while in detention, Njoroge finds out that his father had known all along about his brothers’ involvement in the murder, and was trying to protect them. Feeling lost and abandoned, Njoroge tries to kill himself but fails.