Africa Kills Her Sun by Ken Saro-Wiwa
In Africa Kills Her Sun by Ken Saro-Wiwa we have the theme of corruption, acceptance, connection, honour and love. Narrated in the first person in the form of an epistolary narrative the reader realises after reading the story that Saro-Wiwa may be exploring the theme of corruption. Throughout Bana’s letter to Zole he mentions the corruption that exists in not only his own country but in Africa in general. It is as though Africa’s growth has been stunted by mankind’s inability to act accordingly and without lining their own pockets. Corruption if Bana is to believed is everywhere and due to his own honesty and refusal to accept bribes Bana lost his job as a government clerk. Though some critics might suggest that Bana is a guilty man which he readily admits to and deserves everything that happens to him. It is possible that Bana has principles and may not have robbed from the poor. Bana also appears to be honourable by not only admitting to his guilt but taking the place of those who were responsible for killing the policeman.
The theme of love is self-evident in the story and the fact that Bana has never forgotten Zole despite the passing of time may suggest that she is someone who is of great importance to Bana. She is also being left with a responsibility by Bana. One in which the reader never gets to know whether or not she will fulfil. With the passing of time Zole may have married, had children and moved on with her life. Considering Bana to be just a childhood boyfriend when she was younger. If anything Bana is committing himself to Zole. Yet he will never know if she will respect his wishes. Some of which some readers might find unusual. Particularly the fact that Bana wishes to have a small statue built of himself catching the moment he has died. However some critics might suggest that Bana is being honest in death. He is showing others that he has died by execution in which there may have never been a need for should his fellow countrymen have not been so corrupt. In many ways Bana might see his life and execution as being a sacrifice. As to whether the reader agrees is left for each individual reader to decide. Some readers will be supportive of Bana’s cause while others will see him as no more than a thief.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. Obviously the title of the story has a symbolic significance. Africa through corruption kills any light that might spread across the continent. Hence some considering Africa to be The Dark Continent. The fact that Bana is in prison and is confined within a small space could symbolically suggest that he never had the opportunity to grow due to the widespread corruption that existed. He is to be punished for going against the grain after refusing to accept a bribe. Which may leave some critics to suggest that Bana is playing the role of a martyr. His honesty, though guilty or robbery, has cost him his life. The fact that Bana is in an upbeat mood may also be important as it suggests that he has had enough of the system that is in place. He wants no part of it nor does he agree with it. Hence him becoming a robber and accepting the difficulties that come with being on the wrong side of the law. It is as though Bana is a man of principles. Though others may not agree with this due to Bana’s chosen occupation.
The end of the story is also interesting as all three men (Bana, Sazan and Jimba) know that they are about to die and rather than being downbeat are remarkably cheerful. It is as though all three men have a connection or bond with one another and that their spirit has not been broken by the fact that they are to face a firing squad. If anything the reader senses a sense of joy among the three men. Also Bana has managed to finish his letter to Zole and more importantly he has written his epitaph which is a clever play on words. While at the same time has an important meaning not only for Bana but for others should they take the time to visit Bana’s grave. They too will see what Bana meant and perhaps they might be in a position to change things so that others like Bana, Sazan and Jimba don’t have to revert to criminal activity as a form of protest. In death Bana may be able to do more than he could ever do when he was alive. He can inspire others and as such will not be forgotten like so many other people.