TALKING MONEY by Stanley Gazemba – Kenya
About the author:
Stanley Gazemba was born in 1974 in Vihiga, Kenya. Stanley Gazemba has published three novels: The Stone Hills of Maragoli (Kwani, winner of the 2003 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for fiction, published in the U.S. as Forbidden Fruit), Khama (DigitalBackBooks), and Callused Hands (Nsemia). He has also published eight children’s books, of which A Scare in the Village (Oxford Univ. Press) won the 2015 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for children’s fiction. Gazemba’s fiction has appeared in ‘A’ is for Ancestors, a collection of short stories from the Caine Prize (Jacana); Africa39: New Writing From Africa South of the Sahara (Bloomsbury); Ihe Literary Review (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ.); Man of the
House and Other New Short Stories from Kenya (CCC Press); Crossing Borders online magazine; among other publications.
As a journalist, Gazemba has written for The New York Times, The East African,
Msanii magazine, Sunday Nation, and Saturday Nation. Gazemba was the International Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2007. Gazemba lives in Nairobi, where he is the editor of Ketebul Music.
1. Mukidanyi dismisses his elder brothers. (p49 – 50).
A colli rchensive and dctailcd uidc to a silent son and other stories
- The arrival of Galo and his lawyer for negotiation. (p50 52).
- The disturbing night of evil spirits. (p53 56).
Talking money is a story about Mukidanyi, a furious young man and a cattle trader who ignores his elder brothers’ warning against selling his land. The story is set in the vast rural expanse of Kakamega, Kenya. Mukidanyi’s brothers Ngoseywe and
Agoya give up on him and leave. Obsessed with money in his mind, he refuses to heed his wife’s counsel and instead flogs her.
When his clients arrive, he receives them warmly, showing them the fertile land and offers to help where necessary. They then negotiate without a tussle, for they accept his first offer without haggling. He takes the huge amount of money without counting it and signs the papers with his thumbprint, for he had played truant and naughty when his father, Kizungu, tried to take him to school.
Enthusiastic and excited about the money, he cannot sleep until he is attacked by voices at night, which his wife tells him are evil spirits. He almost runs mad as his wife laughs at him. Overwhelmed by nervousness and fear of the demons, he returns all the money to the Galos and flees back to his house.
Questions for reflection on ‘Title’ of the story and themes.
- How relevant is the title of the story, Talking moneym
- Why do you think the money given to Mukidanyi “talks’ only at night while in his custody?
- Do you think the Galos are responsible for the talking of the money?
- Explore and discuss the existence of the following themes in Talking Money. a) Ethnocentric beliefs in spirits.
- Primitive superstition on sources of wealth.
- Obsession with money and the power of guilt.
- Importance of consultation on family property.
Ethnocentric beliefs in spirits.
The concept of social superstition rooted in people’s culture is linked with belief in good and bad luck as a context-derived concept affects the people of that culture in various aspects.
Although the concept of superstition is common, many of its features and aspects are still unclear. Some questions about these beliefs remain baffling and unanswered. Engulfed with immense doubt, Mukidanyi decides to obey his wife’s words and beliefs about the Galos. (p50).
- At night, the hour of witches, viganda haunt Mukidanyi. He hears voices speaking, and he believes they are not dreaming voices. (p54).
- Then his wife Ronika scoldingly tells him those are certainly viganda spirits speaking. (p54).
Ronika takes advantage of her husband’s extreme fear and makes more fun of him. She reassures him that the Galos’ money is speaking in the briefcase under the bed. (p54).
- Confident and sure that he is terrified, she shouts and scoffs at him to take the money out. “Go with your devil money this very minute and find somewhere else to keep it but not in this house, you hear?” (p55).
Obsession with money and the power of guilt
- The tough speaking and abusive man is now humbled and reduced to a whispering weakling.
- Definitely, the warnings are ricocheting in his mind because of his guilt and failure to consult before beginning the process of selling his land.
- Scared by the unseen demons, Mukidanyi flees back to the Galos, returning all the money. (p55, 56).
- He changes his mind. He is only left with his wife to trust, and his house is the only refuge at this ‘hour of witches’.
1. Using evidence from the text, describe the character traits of the following characters.
Style and Language use
- How is sarcasm employed in Stanley Gazemba’s Talking Money?
- Examine the use of dialogue and native dialect in Talking Money.