The Intruder by Peter Songa
In The Intruder by Peter Songa we have the theme of modernity, education, innocence, colonization and selfishness. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator it becomes clear to the reader after reading the story that Songa may be exploring the theme of modernity. Mungo finds it interesting that the Maasai continue to be hunters. It is as though modernity has not yet reached Engaruka. In fact the only modern things in the story are the transistor radio and the Land Rover. Apart from this, Engaruka has not been touched by modernity and remains traditional. Even the two Maasai men continue to hunt using spears rather than guns. Regardless of this there is a sense that the Maasai are happy. That they do not necessarily need to turn their back on tradition and embrace modernity. In fact despite their curiousness the Maasai are a happy people who find no need to modernize their lives or ways.
It is also noticeable that Mungo has plans to transform Engaruka. Plans that he thinks will please the Maasai though in reality they may scorn such modern advancements. Just as they scorn the education of their children through modern schooling methods. It is as though they have no need for education. That they can live their lives in a much simpler fashion by way of hunting and gathering food. It may also be a case that Songa is exploring the theme of selfishness. By planning to develop the land around Engaruka, Mungo is not thinking of the Maasai. He is thinking of his own interests. Something that is clearer when Mungo dreams of sitting on top of a hill looking down on his proposed creation of a modern town in Engaruka. At no stage in the story does Mungo consider how the Maasai may feel about modernization.
In many ways Mungo is acting like a black colonizer forgetting how white people previously may have destroyed the land in the pursuit of modernity. There is also an innocence among the Maasai. They have no idea what Mungo’s plans are and it is certain that they would be shocked by his plans. Modernity is not necessary in the Maasai’s eyes. They are happy as they are but this may not be enough to stop Mungo from developing the land. It is possible that the plans that Mungo has have already been approved and that the Maasai have no say in the direction the plans will take. As though modernity is being forced upon them by Mungo and his fellow developers. Which may be the point that Songa is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that those who were native to the land in Africa never had any input or say in the development of the land. It was forced upon them not only by white colonizers but by men like Mungo too. Who gave no thought to tradition.
The end of the story is interesting because it is clear that Mungo has plans for the land that do not necessarily include the Maasai. He is happy to drive away in the Land Rover and to imagine the value of modernity on the land. Again no thought is given to the Maasai about what they may think or how they might feel about modernization. The two Maasai men who have met Mungo treat him well and unfortunately are not suspicious of Mungo’s activities. They will be lost should modernity encroach the land. Their way of life will be forgotten in time and others will not live as they have lived. Happy and content with their lives. Without the problems that modernity can bring. Mungo throughout the story is looking to the future without including the past. A necessity for the Maasai. It is through their past that they have learnt to live in the present. Hunting for food and living a simple life without the fear of colonizers bringing about an unwelcome change to their lives.