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BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNA:
Themes

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ALIENATION

Alienation is becoming a stranger to what one initially belonged to or being isolated from others. Alienation in the novel, Blossoms of the Savannah is as a result of embracing new culture.

Ole Kaelo and his family have lived for thirty years in Nakuru where he has brought up his daughters until his retrenchment. This has alienated him from many cultural practices which he comes across with once he returns to Nasila. During his absence from Nasila, it was his brother Simiren who represented him in the Ilmolelian clan in sacred rituals such as girls' initiation (p.11). While his brother has married four wives for the culture permits polygamy, Ole Kaelo has one wife and is contemptuously likened to a mono-eyed giant who stood on legs of straw (p.13) showing that his position and stand in Nasila is precarious and unstable. He regards himself as civilized and calls the clan elders "megalomaniacs" who were still trapped in archaic traditions that were better buried and forgotten" (p.13). During Ole Kaelo's homecoming party, his daughters jokingly observe that he does not know how to dance and that he should be coached (p.45). His inability to dance, perhaps, is a result of being away from Nasila for many years. After settling in Nasila, the writer says that a new Ole Kaelo was emerging and he was becoming a Nasilian very fast (p.62). Mama Milanoi reveals that her husband was not a strict follower of Nasila traditions only prescribing to those aspects that he considered decent (p.60). Perhaps, that is why he allows Oloisudori to marry his daughter Resian, a thing that goes against the cultural grain of Nasila. She asks, "How could a man who was the age of her husband be her son-in-law? Where was Nasila culture?" (p.114).

Resian blames the tension which continues to be witnessed at their home to their father. She blames these developments and changes in their home on "a newborn mongrel; a new culture that was partly Maa and partly a combination of a myriads of cultures found in Nakuru town." (p.174). She argues that that was the animal her father introduced into his home in Nasila and which was "...threatening to devour her first and thereafter everyone else, one by one" (p.174). By embracing the two cultural divides, he sees no problem in planning to marry his daughters to an old man, a plan that costs his family a lot including losing the trust of his two daughters.

One of the cultural practices he embraces is Female Genital mutilation. It is a practice he didn't think about in Nakuru but which confronts him after he returns with his two daughters as Intoiye Nemengalana or uncircumcised. This has made them alienated from the people of Nasila. They contemptuously refer to them as Intoiye Nemengalana and they cannot be easily married in the culturally rich Nasila community (p.8, 58). Being not circumcised earns the girls constant ridicule and contempt because they are unlike other girls. The enkoiboni asks Resian contemptuously, "Are you not ashamed to be among intoiye nemengalana at your age" (p.228). Their state, which physically alienates them from other girls, has been a constant cause of harassment from all sorts of   people "...all trying to discredit them for not having undergone the cultural rite of circumcision" (p.261). As a result of not having circumcised his daughters, Ole Kaelo is derogatively called the father of Intoiye Nemengalana.

Ole Kaelo has also alienated himself from his culture by marrying only one wife while the community allows polygamy. He is likened to a mono-eyed giant who stood on legs of straw (p.13). He is in constant clash with the Nasila culture which if he adhered to; he would not give his daughters to an old man like Oloisudori. For instance, culture prohibits girls meeting with male visitors but he insists that Resian should serve Oloisudori and his friend during his visit (p.175).

Both Resian and Taiyo clash with FGM tradition, forced early marriages and coaching about Nasila culture. Resian is very rebellious of FGM and forced marriage to Oloisudori.

She also rejects cultural coaching saying, "I refuse to be taught to solely please male counterparts" (p.77-78). Resian and Taiyo have lost touch with Nasila culture as a result of being brought up in the city of Nakuru and being educated. They don't know the types of love that exist in the rich cultural heritage of their community. Resian asks Joseph Parmuat whether patureishi really exists (p.127) showing her ignorance about the matter. Taiyo's modern cultural values clashes with traditional Nasila culture. She falls in love with Joseph who is of her clan, a thing not allowed in the Nasilian culture. She does not care about her disregard of such a cultural restriction arguing she cannot care about a primitive culture which also violates her right to marry anybody she falls in love with (p.133).

The positive aspects of Nasila culture are under threat from the imposing modern culture. The writer puts that this culture, "was no more ... and just Nasila River has been polluted by chemicals, by the likes of Oloisudori. It had ..." become mutable and now it contained defiant mutants that it could not regulate and which were above Nasila laws" (p.118). Mama Milanoi admits that her daughters were operating under a different culture from hers. She says they, "...knew very little of Nasila culture. They were children of a new undefined culture. Theirs was a mutant of another kind" (p.118).

Education is one of the causes of alienation. The Kaelo's, for instance, want their daughters educated but at the same time are wary of the influence of education on them. We are told that the sons of Nasila who got educated "...got alienated and hardly came back home" (p.150). There is a clash between formal education, which is an aspect of modern culture, with traditional Nasilian culture. This clash makes Nasila culture to be "...grappling with the changes education brought." These changes, according to the narrator, were "...threatening an explosion in the not too distant future" (pp.150-151).

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