MATERIALISM/GREED AND OPULENCE
Materialism is putting material possession before anything else in one's life while greed is insatiable want for material possessions. Opulence in this novel refers to exaggerated display of wealth by characters.
Ole Kaelo's house in Nasila is so magnificent that Mama Milanoi exclaims, "Father of all creation! This is but a dream" (p.30). Taiyo says that the house is magnificent while Resian exclaims she had never seen anything like it before (p.31).He has furnished his shop at Nasila extravagantly. We are told "It was splendid, large and well stocked. The decor was discreetly and fashionably done while taking into consideration the kind of customers that were expected" (p.65). This is a show of extravagance and opulence which the rich in this society strongly believe are indications of a wealthy man. Taiyo tells her ever critical sister: It's important that the shop displays a certain measure of opulence" (p.65). This is so that their father can attract rich customers.
The genesis of Ole Kaelo's troubles is his signing of a contract with Oloisudori to start a business in Nasila. We are told that "He had long realized the choice was between remaining a nobody; self-righteously and accepting, sensibly, that the man with the meat was also the same man with the knife" (p.25). He therefore gets into business with him. His friend, Supeyo, warns him in advance what kind of man Oloisudori is "...and Oloisudori is probably the most corrupt...keep the fellow away from your daughters" (p.26). Despite the early warning, he is unheeding a thing which makes him lose his two dear daughters finally. Oloisudori has his hands on all sorts of businesses both legal and illegal. These are; agriculture, finance, tourism, import and export, mining and motor trade, extortion, poaching, smuggling and robbing (p.101). When he comes visiting Ole Kaelo, his show of extravagance cannot fail to be noticed in his extravagant dressing. He has a pin-striped designer suit, a gold watch, gold bracelet and a gold chain. (p.177). He shows off his wealth by giving generous gifts to Ole Kaelo, Mama Milanoi, Resian and Taiyo. (p.178). He also hands over a briefcase to Ole Kaelo which is later revealed to have contained a half a million shillings (p.188).
Despite these ugly businesses, Ole Kaelo still deals with him in order to save his business from collapsing. He is not sure whether Oloisudori does not belong to a cult that thrived on blackmail and extortion and which after helping a businessman grow his business, would come back making outrageous demands like sacrificing their beloved ones to the gods of the cult (p.107). Despite knowing all these about him, Ole Kaelo comforts himself in order to defend the material path he has taken. The narrator observes: "He knew it was pursuit of success that made him interact with Oloisudori....Success was attainment, fortune and prosperity; it was triumph and it gave one happiness. It did not matter how it was obtained....the end...justified the means" (pp.108-109). He consoles himself for having decided to marry his daughter to Oloisudori saying, "Where else would he ever get such a business offer as the one Oloisudori had offered him" (p.165). He decides that he is not ready to lose his business premises and home for these were a matter of life and death to him. In order to survive, "...he realized with finality, he had to change his attitude towards Oloisudori; he had to embrace him" (p.165). He sees the material side only if his daughter married Oloisudori, saying, "...she would soon have her own establishment and a wealthy husband who had much ambition" (p.166).
When Ole Kaelo visits one of the homes of Oloisudori and the house he is building for Resian, he falls instantly in love with the might of wealth that he witnesses. Ole Kaelo's house is lavishly furnished and the writer says it "...must have been done by a person whose mind must have been preoccupied by the need to be showy, and ostentatious. On the other hand, the house being built for Resian leaves Ole Kaelo speechless and Mama Milanoi stupefied by its grandeur and magnificence (p.190). Attracted by wealth, he concludes that "...it was only a stupid woman, like his daughter Resian, who would turn down the offer to own the riches they saw in Oloisudori's home" (p.188). He also hopes that Taiyo, his other daughter would get a rich man to marry her and give him hefty sums of money just as Oloisudori had done. (p.188). After witnessing Oloisudori's wealth, he decides that Resian must be married by Oloisudori and that "...he was not going to allow his daughter's ignorance to destroy her future" (p.191). He so much wants the marriage plan to work that he devises a plan with Oloisudori to abduct Resian by force if she did not cooperate (p.191).in fact they agree on usage of a anesthesia to make her unconscious. The only saving grace that can prevent losing his business and house is the success of the marriage. He admits that, "the success or failure of the event would determine the fate of his business" (p.194). He fears being reduced to poverty by Oloisudori and therefore, betrays his own daughter in exchange of material possessions.