Home ADVANCED LEVEL Betrayal In The City By Francis Mbuga

Betrayal In The City By Francis Mbuga

Betrayal In The City By Francis Mbuga
Betrayal In The City By Francis Mbuga

Betrayal In The City By Francis Mbuga

It was Kenya’s national entry to the second world Black and African Festival of Art and Culture in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977.

It is a play within a play we have the play where Jusper is the main character and it is this main character who composed a play to entertain the visitor which makes creatively ending of the first play. Due to this we can say.

Mbuga’s play is very unique as he composes two plays in one .It is the second play which gives the title of the main play which is “Betrayal in the City”.

It is a tragic comedy play as it has elements of both plays (tragedy and comedy).

It is a tragedy as it appeals to sadness where we see many people suffer in jail and some of the killing in the play.eg Adika, Chagga, Mulili, Kabito.

It is a comedy because there are some areas that appeals laughter .For instance in page 36 where Jusper says” shit! God what crap Is your toilet repaired”, Also in page 47 he says”…you need a little grey and perhaps a blue here and there” again in Page 49.

Tumbo tell Jusper” Jusper tell your cousin that life is not a straight line” Jusper tells his cousin………”Jusper tell your cousin that we are here for a season”.

Also Mulili language (poor grammar) “so I wakes up .I go to my cousin to explanation him “Page 54”I objection Mr. Chairman! Children should must………”page 55”That one, he be a green grass in snake page 59”.

Generally the play examine problems that encounter most of African Independent countries.

As we seen from the play francis Mbuga shows how African leaders treat the citizens. We see in Kafira one is not allowed to shout against evils.

We see people like Adika and Kabito who were killed in cold blood.Moses and Jere were jailed because they stand for the truth.


Plot summary

Francis Mbuge ‘s play start by showing the contradiction between Africans culture inherited government system in Africa Francis cuts a clear distinction between leaders and mass.

The play opens by showing the life of Nina and Doga who mourn for their lost child,who was killed on an organized demonstration ,which was focused on Africa dictatorship and corruption.

Plot is built up by the author by adding more character who represent different situations on different circumstances.For instance we see Mulili an illeterate soldier who was employed and given high post because the president (Boss )is his cousin.On the same scene we see Jere who is faithfull soldier and he adores African style of life.

Him and Mulili fall into fight since they take different couses of reasoning,Here Mullli representing the ruling class and it is common habits of bulldozing the society.

Again country is provern rotten and how harmfull speaking the truth.
We see how those dare to open their mouths and reveal of truth face difficulties,sometimes are being imprisoned if not sillenced.For example Jusper,Jere and Mosses also the late Adika.

Title of the Play

Title of the play “Betrayal in the city”is straight forward to what we see in the play as the general concept is to show the relationship between the system and the citizens after independence .

Leader go against the agreement and the expectation that people had during the struggle for independence.People are still suffering from exploitation,Poverty,injustice and many other evils.So leaders have failed to fulfill what they promised.

Saying (Proverbs and Idiom)


-“A mouse does not share a bowel with a cat”Doga tell Nina.Here Doga is against the sub chief because Chagaga killed Adika Page 3

-“A cloudy sky does not always cry rain “said Doga as he tells Nina that the ceremony will be conducted no matter what they say page 3

-“Silence is the best ship home” Askari acknowledge Mosese in Page19

-“The tree -climber begins from the bottom,not the top” page53

Kabito tells his member of the committee that we better know about the potatoes then we shall talk about the responsibilities of the committee

-“Colour name in blood page 59.Mulili tells boss that Kabito colour his name in blood to mean that Kabito has said bad thing against him(Boss).

-“Determination is greater in worth than numbers”Page 65 says Jusper that means if you are determined number is not a factor.


” Hot mouth” Page 19 to be tocative. Askari worn Moses

-“In cold blood”Means he died inocently page 24. Moses explains to why he is jailed just by attending the funeral of his student Adika who was killed in cold blood.

-“Bend so low “Page 26.Means to be humble and Mosese is not ready for that ,Moses believes that because he is not guilt he can never bend low as by doing so is to sale his dignity.

-“Black and white”means to be transparent in Page 47 Jusper says in Kafira things are not in black and white instead you need a little grey and perhaps a blue here and there.”

-“Tears in eyes” to cry page 63.This is when Mulili was explaining about the death of Kabito and says “Boss is with tears in his eyes.”
-“Cut short”Means to stop someone from saying something “Don’t cut me short,You do the listening I talk”.Askari tells Jere.


-“You work like the meteorological department “This means that No public  questions into method used and no assurance page 17

-“We have no choice like caged animals,we move but inside the cage .Says Tumbo in Page 62.This means that though they are in the committee they’ve no choice they are to do as the instruction of the boss”.


-For instance Regina says”there is no brand of beer that Jusper hasn’t tested”Page 41.This is exaggeration of fact because it not true that Jusper has tested all brand of beer.The idea here is that Jusper drinks too much.


-Coins in the grave symbolize money of illiteracy of the people in the system.

-Potatoes symbolize money page44

-Mulili poor grammar is a symbol of illiteracy

-Also the picture on the cover of the play  shows the pressure of injustice/torture


-When Jusper picks up two sticks and hold them as if they were two pistols…….squad,attention!Aim…..one,two….in page 66.This was a prediction of what will happen later,he kills Mulili at the end in the same way.

-Doga’s curse foreshadow the death of Mulili…..”….May you die the way Adika died!”page 10.

-Paradox eg:Jere tells Askari “I know .innocence can be an offense “page29.

-Has it ever occurred to you that the outside of this cell may well be the  inside of another Page 16.


Is a speech in a play in which a character who is alone on the stage,Speaks his/her thoughts it is like monologue

e.g.Observe Jusper speech on page 5-6
also Mosese’s speech on page 30-31


e.g- Tu-tu-tu-tu !this is the sound of the gun given by Jusper in page6.This means that in Kafira state killing is something common

Generally Language used in the play is standard and understood except the ungrammatical structure used by Mulili which is made intentionally to show incompetence of some of the leaders.Mulili is the adviser of the boss while his English shows that he is uneducated person .

This lead to the failure of the government due to involving people who are not qualified.

Character & characterization

1. Jusper  Wendo

Patriotic    –    he advocated for change

Brave        –    did not sway away regarding issues for truth





2.      Mulili

         Soldier, Jere’s colleagues then a farmer bods distance cousin

         Betrayer

         Flamboyant

         Not very educated

         Self centered

         Ego

3.      Jere

         Mulili’s  colleague, comes from a difference culture

         Kind heated

         Trust worthy

         Short- tempered

         Religious

         Naive

4.      Boss

         Head of state of Kafira, wasn’t liked by the students mostly

         Arrogant

         Naive

         Dictator

         Womanizer

5.      Mosese

Lecture in Kafira, Regina’s brother, framed for drugs and got arrested

         Intellectual

         Silent

         Philosophical  thinker

         Caring

         Patriotic

         Tolerant

6.      Nina

–          Caring

–          Religious

–          Tradition

–          Courageous (pg 9)

–          Uneducated

7.      Doga

–          Traditionalist

–          Religious

–          Courageous

–          Vocal

–          Egocentric

–          Looks down upon women (wife)

8.      Regina

–       Caring

–          Truthful

–          Naive

–          Courageous

9.      Tumbo

–          Corrupt

–          Self  centered

–          Kind

–          Coward

10.  Nicodemo

–          Lazy

–          Greedy

–          Betrayer

–          Self centered

–          Coward

–          Uses innuendo

11.  Kabito

–          Considerate

–          Coward

–          Corrupt

–          Greedy

–          Educated

–          Unhappy


1.      Jusper wendo

Patriotic because he advocated for change being one of the students in Kafira university he also played port in the protest that ended up with the death of  Adika (one who loves his country).

Brave and courageous due to the fact that the was not afraid to speak truth regarding matters of Kafira and he did not sway away from that.

Stubborn, this is seen through the conversation between him and his mother (page 6) and also with Regina his girlfriend who seems to be advising him and convincing him to change (scene 3) page 32 (determined not to change)

Creative because he could come up with a play for the visiting of the  head of state

Philosophical – He is a philosophy student at Kafira University. In page 33 he claim  it himself that  he is a philosophy student and also it can be proved by the way he speaks.

Vocal  in  a sense  that  he   expresses his ideas loudly (evident in normal conversations  with  others)

2.      Mulili

He is an ex – soldier who is now a farmer. He is Jere colleague and Boss distance causing

Betrayer because he betrayed Jere, his colleague who trusted him (evident in pg 14 were Jere reminds him that he had not told on him regarding a man called Mustafa who escaped.

Flamboyant – one who misreads others

Not very educated this is evident on the way he speaks e.g. 11 what have happen? And many more in his conversations.

Ego – the act of thinking that you are right and if gets you way you seal with him or her. Mulili has e.g., this is evident on the way he dealt with Kabito who seemed to get on his way. He ended up three

Self centered – to think about you and not about other people. Mulili though much of himself, regarding his action of betrayal having ego.

3.      Jere

Mulili’s colleague comes from different culture

–      Trust worthy – one that you can trust. Jere is trust worthy because he could keep a secret (about Mustafa) and never told, unlike mulili.

–      Religions – to be connected with religion (having strong belief) Jere shows that he is religious, as he claims to read the bible (the New Testament) and taught religious knowledge for three years before he went to the army.

–       Short tempered – to be easily annoyed

Jere prises to be short tempered (page 15) considering his conservation with Mulili after having a misunderstanding he reaches a point of aiming a pistol at him

–      Naive – to be easily convinced

Jere is naive in the sense that he was easily coned by Mulili on the matter of Mustafa

–       Patriotic is one who loves his country and Jere being one of them proves it by.

–       Kind –Hearted because of his intentions of do good Jere (page 13) feels the need to allow the ceremony to go on


4.      Boss

Head of state of Kafira and wasn’t like so much mostly by the students of the university

– Boss was naive because he was easily convinced by Mulili through false information that led to the death of Kabito.

–  Also he was a dictator, one who rules with force, He wanted everything his way caring less what others think, that why people did not like him.

–  Arrogant that is one who thinks he is better or more important than others (pg 60) after     finding out that had gone against him, he deals with him.

–  Womanizer is also a trait for Bods whereby despite of being married to Mercedes he also wanted Regina.

5. Mosese

Lecturer at Kafira University (philosophy) He is Regina brother and was frames with drugs and got arrested.

–       Mosese is intellectual ni the sense that he has the ability to reason and understand. This is a fact because he is a lecturer at the university.

–      He is silent in the sense that he rarely speaks or makes noise. This is evident in prison whereby there was silent up until Askari decides to ask him (page 18) and he repels saying “it prudent to be silent”.

–       Moses is a philosopher / thinker regarding to the way he speaks e.g. Page 28 where he talks of memories,  the post and the future.

–      Caring in the sense that he was concerned about his sister  Regina, he was not ready to let her face the Boss knowing what man he was  and what might happen to her.

–     Patriotic due to the fact that  he plays part in the play which was based on advocating for change and stopping the worse that could probably happen in Kafira.

            6. Nina

Doga’s wife and Jusper and Adika’s mother

–       Caring – being concerned about someone or something, Nina cared much about his son, and mostly evident towards Jusper as the only son left.

–      Religious – one who is greatly concerned with religion Nina proves to be religious when she decides to put the day in God’s hands and saying a prayer (page 8).

–       Traditionalist – very concerned with tradition Nina and Doga her husband were to have a ceremony for their dead son Adika (shaving ceremony)

–      Courageous – showing that you are not afraid when you do something that might be dangerous or difficult. Nina has his trait in the sense that the way she was able to confront  Mulili and Jere who wanted to stop the ceremony was with courage and without fear regarding what who said and their response (page 9).

–       Remorseful – a feeling of guilty or compassion

This is shown by Nina in (page 12) whereby she feels guilty having to send her son to address something which she didn’t know therefore ever thought would bring trouble but rather it does.

7. Doga
  –   Nina’s husband

–    Jusper and Adika father

–     Courageous also in the way he addressed issues without fear of the consequences of what is saying.

–      Traditionalist in the sense that he is so attached to it and seems to know much (pg 4).he practises the shaving ceremony for Adika.

–       Religions, his also concerned with religion (page 12) he offers Jere a pocket Bible and tells him that may God open his eyes to the suffering of his people.

–      Vocal as in he expresses his ideas loudly, the  way he speaks with Jusper, his wife Nina

–       Egocentric also describes Doga in the sense that he thinks he is always right.

–       Looks down upon women whereby he tends to crash most of his wife thoughts and also (pg 3) he speaks of women they think the beds upon which they wide for the night.

8. Regina

Mosese sister and Jusper’s girlfriend

– Caring

She was very concerned about both Mosese and Jusper she gave Jusper advice despite his stubbornness and wanted to help Mosese get out of prison through seeing the Boss to help Mosese get out of prison through seeing the Boss.

– Truthful

Regina preferred to stick to the truth when Tumbo brought the idea of having Jusper win play write competition immediately so as to get extra cash.

– Naive

She was easily convinced by Tumbo to go see Boss.


Regina courageous because she could address matters without fear and also had the courage to face Boss for the sake of his brother Mosese.

– Wise

She is wise because she could give advice to Jusper regardless his stubbornness.


–  Chairman of the visitors entertainment committee corrupt – his corrupt due to his unfair or dishonesty of conducting the play write competition.

–   Kind – Tumbo has a good heart because he brought drinks for Regina and Jusper and also connected Regina with boss.

–    Coward – Tumbo is afraid of Boss, has no courage

–    Self centered – Misuses  play write by making short cuts also in page 42

10. Nicodemo

One of the members of the visiting committee.

– Lazy

Nicodemo proves to be lazy by asking for a three hour break as the meeting begins.

– Greedy

Page.53 Nicodemo is so anxious to know the size of the potato (money) that he will be getting from the committee he insists on been played  per hour.

– Betrayer

He betrayed Mosese by framing him with drugs on page 52 he speaks of what a tragedy it would be to him if mosese is pardoned after the visit of the head of state.

-Self centered

Does not like the fact prisoners are been treated nicely, now that they are going to act a play.


He is afraid of the boss and knows what is due to happen.

 11. Kabito

Member of the visiting committee.

–       Considerate

Whatever decisions brought forward, Kabito tends to consider the possible impact of them (page 55) the school children.

–      Coward – He is afraid of the boss (pg.52)

–       Corrupt he practiced corruption by giving people cash and being nice so as to get a tender which he didn’t get.

–      Greedy – he is interested to know the amount of money he will be getting as payment in the committee before it even begins.

–       Educated – this is due to the way he gave ideas which proved at some point that the was intellectual.




The main idea in a literary work.

i.      Betrayal

The act of being disloyal/unfaithful to someone a serious breach of trust

–          Nicodemo betrayed Mosese (page 25)

–          Nicodemo frames Mosese with drugs

–          Mulili betrays Jere by dinning to keep a secret unlike Jere who did not tell about Mustafa escape.

–          Mulili betrayed Kabito who ended up dead.

–          Mulili betrayed the boss denning that he is his cousin and that they can kill him.

–          Boss betrayed people of Kafira by putting power into people such as Mulili and Tumbo.

–          The government betrayed the people of Kafira by breaking their trust in protecting them but yet they end up shooting Adika during the protest.

–          Tumbo betrayed the visitor’s entertainment committee and the boss by not practising a fair play write competition for the money.

–          The boss betrayed Mercedes by being a womanizer.


–          Jusper betrayed Doga and Nina; he left the grave when he was told to guide it.


ii.       Corruption

Misuse of power and office position for personal use /gain

–  Tumbo squandered the money for the play write.

–   Mulili let Mustafa escape using his position.

         To get the milk tender (convinced  boss regarding the fact  that they are relative)

         Used his position to do  away with people by convincing the boss also (kabitos death).

         Kabito birded people  expecting to get the milk tender but it didn’t work, Mulili get it instead.


iii.      Protest

Is a statement/action that shows disagreement to something or

A reaction against unwanted situation.

–          University student of  Kafira against the government  which led to the death of Adika.

–          Nina and Doga against  Mulili who wanted the ceremony not to go ahead.

–          Kabito against Mulili which led to his death.

–          Jusper by killing the  sub – chiefs brother.

–          Mosese against the system from boss.

–          Jere against Mulili.


iv.      Conflict

Clash between two parts which can be ideological.

–  Students of university of Kafira and the government

Why – didn’t like the system

How – they protested, and Adika ended up shot

   Kabito and Mulili

Why – Mulili took kabito tender

How – throwing words to one another

  –  Nina and boga against Mulili

Why – Mulili did not want the ceremony to go on

How – Nicodemo framed mosese with drugs

       Jere against Mulili

Why – about the ceremony and the fact that  milili was a betrayer

How – he gets upset they throw words against each other and jere aims a pistor at mulili

– Jusper against sub – chief’s’ brother

Why – he thought he was responsible for the shooting of Adika

How – Jusper kills him

– Boss and Mercedes

Why – Boss was cheating, he wanted Regina

How – Mercedez reacted to boss after finding out “she become rude”

v.        Nepotism

– Giving favour because of a relation either blood, tribe, schoolmate … mostly they don’t deserve the favour.

Boss favoured Mulili – they are distant relatives

Tumbo favoured jusper

Jusper might be able to write a play but he was favoured in the sense that he did not go through a competition and the fact that Regina was in relation  with him

Mulili favoured Mustafa who escaped across the border.

vi.      Dehumanisation

To treat a person a person in a way that makes him or her less human (denies him/her basic rights)

–          Student of  Kafira university been shoot at as they demonstrate against  the government.

–          Doga  and Nina are denied there right to mourn for their son and to conduct the shaving ceremony.

–          Kabito was denied the right  to live

–          Adika was denied the right to live

vii.    Patriotism

Is the feeling of love and willingness to do anything for the benefit of one’s country

Jusper wendo

University studens  + adika

Mosese (passive protest)

Jere  (passive protest)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here