Sunday, January 8, 2023

ENGLISH FORM SIX PLAY ANALYSIS :Betrayal In The City By Francis Mbuga

  Eli-express       Sunday, January 8, 2023


The play Betrayal in the city, is the play written by Francis Imbuga and setting of the play is in Kafira state (imaginary setting).The play portrays the social economic, political and traditional issues in Kafira state.

The play shows various betrayals happening in Kafira state by the government leaders to their people, through using power to silence people by imprisoning them and sometimes killing them.

This is indicated when Adika is killed due to organizing the student’s demonstration. Nina and Doga the parents of Adika are also killed tom make them silence.

Also the play shows how the leaders uses their power to silence their people , for instance Jusper is silenced also Moses as well as Jere among many

This is because of airing the truth in Kafira. This is shown when Askari tells Mosese in the jail ‘’It doesn’t pay to have a hot mouth’’ ( pg. 24). Also ‘’silence is the best ship home’’ meaning silence is the best way of evaluating or leaving the problem s

Despite all these , the play provides the solution towards injustice, humiliation done by the government m as sacrifice and revenge as how  Jere and Jusper sacrifices themselves in the killing of Mulili , Jere says ‘’we must sacrifice for future betterment  of Kafira’’( pg 76).

Also the play portrays on the misuse of public fund done by the government leaders such as Tumbo, Boss, as well as Mulili who contributes to the underdevelopment of Kafira state. This is shown when Tumbo says ‘’ you were born alone and when you die you will die alone’’ this indicates selfishness and misuse of funds.


This is the name of the book composition or other artistic work. Title affects the reader’s intention and focus the tone and substance of writing to follow.

Title may be followed by a colon and subtitles which usually focuses on the idea expressed on the main title .It  has been divided into two  types such as ironic and direct title.

The title of our book is BETRAYAL IN THE CITY, written by Francis Imbuga; it is direct title since there is real relationship between title and what has been discussed within the book.

Betrayal in the city paints the picture of   independent African state which has to bear the brunt of representative leadership. The head of state of Kafira Boss does not give the room to alternative views; this is the betrayal to the citizen who voted to him and to the head of Kafira state.

Msese wathonga says that, the  state fails because of the bad  politics policy, improper  ideology , tribalism and corruption , he looks back in the history and in the future of Kafira under Boss and  he sees emptiness

The second betrayal is when Mulili tells Jusper that the Boss has never been his cousin or he could only be distant cousin , he says that ‘’ there is absolutely no reason why Boss should not be killed’’, also Mulili betrays Kabito  he says that ‘’Kabito has complained the Boss  has robbed him of the milk tender , he has ruined the economy, he hides millions in the foreign countries  and he tried to get Regina by force, hence Boss trusted him and gave the tender of milk supplier at Kafira, but also Mulili kills Kabito, Nina, Doga and Adika because of the illusion to win property from the boss.

Also Tumbo betrays Regina’s trust in him when he  fails to tell her  the exact intention for Boss during her appointment to partition for Mosese release, he host (Boss ) become so amorous that Regina is forced to jump out of ten foot high window to escape, this is betrayal since Boss intended to inter another women in her wife house.

Therefore our title Betrayal in the city has a direct relation to the content and those which the author had already discussed.


This is the place or surrounding where something is positioned or where an event takes place, the environment in which the literary work is done.

In our book Betrayal in the city the author used imagery setting of Kafira state, the state which is not exist in any country around the world. But the events, message and themes of Kafira portrays or represents several countries around the world especially African countries.

Example, the issue of corruption, traditional believes, selfishness, nepotism, hypocrisy, dictatorship and irresponsibility are not only at Kafira state but even in developing countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda Malawi and Burundi.

Therefore Francis Imbuga shaped all Africans countries soon after independence when people in the authority were irresponsible, illiteracy and nepotism as Boss.

While the author shows us that in Africa there are some people who sacrifice their lives for the majority as Adika, Jusper and Mosese, while there is others who look for their own interests, therefore struggling and unit must be used to ensure development in African development.



He is a high lanking military and government officer. His relation to Boss made him get high position despite his illiteracy

He is brutal

-Mulili is responsible for death of Kabito, Nina and Doga.

-While Jere is overcome by pity on seeing Nina and Doga mourning their son, Mulili is unshaken and he insists that the ceremony must be put off, after quarreling with Kabito Mulili plans his muder and makes it look as accident.

He is traitorous.

-Mulili is only loyal to any cause as long as ha individual gains to make from the cause. H e is loyal to Boss when he has power because he is corruptly awarded public land tenders.

-He does not care about other citizens of Kafira, he likes of Nina and Doga who are oppressed by          Boss regime.

-When Mosese and his team overthrow Boss, Mulili conveniently denies his relation to Boss calling him a distant cousin.


Ø He is a senior university lecture and brother of Regina. He was previously called Nicodemas but he dropped the name after he was flamed Nicodemo to go to prison.

He is pessimistic

-Mosese is seen to hopeless about any change being realized in Kafira.H e says ‘’during the       speeches at Adika’s funeral, I learned the bitter truth Kafira wasn’t going to change after all.

He is patriotic

-It is evident that Mosese loves his country Kafira.He is very much angered by what is happening in Kafira. He criticizes the government even when it is risk to do so. He tells Jere ‘’ it was better while we waited, now we have nothing to look forward to, we have killed our past and they are busy killing our future…..our children will never have such memory’’

-He is educated one because he is senior university lecturer


-He is a head of state of kafira .He was a military officer before taking power through a coup.

-He is portrayed as a weak ruler because of being influenced by his adviser


-He was initially a soldier before he falls out with Mulili and become a prisoner. He becomes instrument of coup that finally rids Kafira of Boss government.

-He understands one, since he easily understand the plight of Nina and Doga argues with Mulili to let them have the ceremony.

-He plays an active role in liberating Kafira. He therefore represents resistance in corrupt and dictatorial regimes


-He is Regina’s landlord and the chair of committee in charge of the visiting head of the state’s entertainment.

He is selfish

-He is being a beneficiary of Boss’s corrupt regime Tumbo ignores the plight of other citizens of Kafira who bear the brunt of their government corruption and brutality

-He tells Jusper that one should enrich himself first before he can try speaking for others. He says this in effort to encourage Jusper protesting against and to depend his lax city to criticize the government.


She is sister of mosese and juspers girl friend .she is a comfidence woman as she believes that she can convince boss to release his brother from prison .she is also adviser as she advises jusper and his brother to let others  speakon behalf of the state

7: NINA   

She is Dogas wife and mother of jusper and Adika

She is traditionalist as she supports her husband to persom the shaving ceremony of their son Adika

She is also coward women as she fears to set eye on the grave of her son ;she is also child care as she tells jusper to put on a decent clothes

8. Doga

He is the husband of nina and father Adika

He is realistic as he tells his wife that they need not to cry since tears are for the young and their and their own wells are dry

He is also a traditionalist as she insist on performing the shaving ceremony of their dead son adika as he says ceremony must go on as planned.he becomes grateful when Jere supported him to conduct ceremony where he offers him bible.

9. Askari

He is a prison warder ,he is mandated to keep watch over Jere and mosese. He is also a hypocrite man as he tells jere  that they are giving consideration to his future despite his contribution to the national headache, he is also hash person as he intimidate jere saying next time you call me friend you will lose a tooth.


Theme is the central idea explored in the story. Literary theme might be the subject matter or present itself as a message within a large story.  In the play ‘’Betrayal in the city’’ have the following themes,


This is when someone you trust lies to you, cheats on you, abuses you, or hurts you by putting their own interests. Therefore it is the act of going contrary to what you have discussed or agreed.

The author Francis Imbuga reveals this theme using the character as follows;

-Betrayal which is done by Boss who is the head of Kafira state, this is seen when he betrays the society by failing to implement Kafira’s Africanization program

-Also betrayal is done by Boss whereby he steals the government fund and hide in outside the country, this is proved when he says ‘’I keep money in the foreign land? Who gave him information’’ (pg 62)

-Betrayal done by Tumbo who is chair man of entertainment committee, this is when Tumbo betrays Boss by failing to conduct play writing competition as being ordered by Boss he then declares Jusper to be the winner without conducting competition.

-Another betrayal is done by Jere when he betrays Boss by allowing the old couple to conduct the shaving ceremony contrary to Boss’s order, this makes Jere to be arrested and taken to prison. Jere says to Mulili;

Jere: ‘’ let us allow this people to carry on with their ceremony’’

Mulili:’’ No ceremony is on’’ ( pg 18)

Also Mulili betrays Boss by refusing that he is not his cousin bus is just a distant cousin, he also reveals all revels done by boss while he used to be fevered by boss, he says

Jere: ……’’this man is your cousin’’

Mulili: He is only a distant cousin that is all

Jusper also betrays Tumbo by writing   play Betrayal in the city instead of play about achievement and progress of Kafira’s society as he was ordered by Tumbo, this makes dictatorship government of Boss to be overthrown


This means careless about the consequences of one’s actions, the author reveals this by showing that government leaders are irresponsible

This is seen when Mulili plans disgust to Boss and Kabito, Boss as the head of the state was required to make sure that all are verified for the sake of getting truth instead of ordering Mulili to silence Kabito as he says;

Boss: Come report to me that he is silent

Mulili: that be small you remember that old couple …….

Boss: (shouting), clear out of my sight and get on with it (pg 63)

Also government leaders considers things of less values, for example, they don’t consider about education they want  to suspend studies in order in order to welcome visitors


Refer to the act of being rough, cruel to others this theme is portrayed  in the play by looking Kafira’s leaders who do not take humanity measure to their people rather than torturing them.

-Askari tries to show experience toward people who seem to be trouble

Jere: my friend why?

Askari: Next time you call me your friend you will lose a tooth.

-Brutality is also done by Kafira state to her citizen whereby they use force mechanism for keeping people silence, Example, Adika was killed during university demonstration to threat other students.

Position of women

Women play different role in the society, in this play women are portrayed negatively and positively as follows;-

-Tool for pleasure, this is seen when Boss tries to rape Regina

-Inferior, thus they are believed that they can’t give out clear view in front of men, as Doga says stop where you are, what sort of mother are you? (Pg. 7)

-As adviser, this is when Nina advices her husband to report the matter of their dead son Adika to the sub chief

-Children care, Nina as mother of Adika and Jusper seem to care her remain son with a good formation reinforcement and showing great love her children

Nina: where is Jusper

Doga: ……is alright where he is

Nina: he is our only hope

Nina: … take care of that thing and go and put on something decent     ….(pg.11)

-As a compassionate, this is seen when Regina play role as women to her brother Mosese when she was trying to ask the head of the state to release him though she faces various obstruction from Boss and Mulili, she also feels pity to her boyfriend tiredness,

Jusper: what do you see in my eyes?

Regina: you need rest


t includes those values which exist in traditional culture and way of life. The author reveals the theme of traditionalism by showing;

-Doga and Nina preparing themselves for shaving ceremony of their beloved son Adika

-Sharing the same knife during circumcision

Lack of freedom

This is seen when Askari prohibits Mosese from asking questions, Askari says ‘’ I’m here to see that you ask no question’’ (pg. 23), Also Askari says that when Mosese was brought to jail he was full of question but two mature strokes will ease the lesson, thus people are not given chance of expression in Kafira state

Dishonest/ hypocrisy

This means the act of intending people not being trustful or not being honest toward others, the government leaders not honest to the citizen this is seen when Nicodemo the government leader plants false charges to the Mosese wa Tonga by accusing him in possession of illegal drugs as Mosese says; ‘’No being in possession of illegal drugs, one kg of opium, when they searched my car they sure enough found the drug. I laughed I heard similar stories, but I never thought it would never happen to me’’

-Also dishonest is seen when Mulili goes to present false statement, that Kabito has blamed the Boss has robbed him from his job and presents many facts about Kafir a state finally Kabito was killed.


Refer to the act of going against unfavorable situation that exist in the society, it also involve expressing disagreement Example of protest include; university student who reacted against the situation of importing external expertise into the country. Though people in Kafira protest but they got nothing they end up in trouble.  Boss: no one who shouts at me and get what they want           (pg.74 )


The act of considering individual interest or advantage than others , in the play leaders rule for their own benefits, Example, Mr. Tumbo is ready to announce Jusper as the winner of the play competition so as he can earn something,

Tumbo: Good, now if the six pound was to finance the competition, I give you one third to the two of    you (pg. 52)

-Boss also is selfish for removes gray hair in order to remain in power

Boss: A gray hair is signifies wisdom …..,a leader should not grow gray people begins to lose confidence in you…..(pg. 61)

Nepotism/ favoritism

Is unfair practice by powerful person of giving jobs and other fever to relatives. In the play nepotism is seen when Boss the head of Kafira  state promises as favor his cousin Mulili many hectors after his retire, also he fevers him by giving him a tender of supplying milk at university.

Mulili: My future depends on this , if I keep low and order a big farmer become when I retire , Boss promised me that and you know …..i be his eye and his ear..


Is the lesson that we get/ learn after reading literary work, in the play Betrayal in the city there is the following messages;

Betrayal creates underdevelopment in the society, this is seen when the government of Kafira betrays the citizens and lead to failure of Africanization

For development to occur responsibility is necessary, this is seen in the government of Kafira  where the leaders are not responsible so by avoiding this the society will develop

Nepotism and hypocrisy is the source of conflict in the society, this is evidenced when Mulili disgusts Boss on Kabito hence Kabito is killed

Sacrifices is needed for any change in the society, this is seen when Mosese, Adika, and Jusper sacrifices  for the change of Kafira state


The writer of the Betrayal in the city has used a simple language, normal, mixed, figurative language  grammatical language to convey the message to the audience.

Also mixed language or codemixing has been used, example, Swahili words by Mulili ‘’ kabisa’’ (pg. 73)

The author also uses grammatical language to show class of educated people in Kafira who suffers from uneducated one, these grammatical language is used by Jere, Jusper, and Mosese.

The author also uses figurative language which carry different messages from the book, he also uses figures of speech as follows;

Symbolism,  refes to the practice or an art of using an object or word to present un abstract idea, the writer employs symbolism to reachnhis message to the society, example,

Potato- to symbolize money

Coin on the grave – symbolize poverty

Gun- to symbolize injustice

Mulili’s language – symbolize illiteracy

Rhetoric questions, these are question which does not require an answer,example when Jusper says;  ’

Jusper: ‘’ Girlfriend number one?

Satire, is aform of writing where an individual or society is ridiculed or wher the foolishness of an idea practice or custom is shown

Example, Mulili and Boss has been satired for being traitorous .

Uses of song (pg. 58) ‘’When we walk with the lord

In the light of his way

……but trust and obey’’

The author uses this song to show that despite the challenges they are facing they still seeking for answers through devine intertervetion

Also the author uses Irony, after death of Adika went wild singing song of revenge, it is ironical that when he was back after three months he les insteady   worsened and people said that he was mad.(pg.4-5)

Simile, refer to direct comparison of two different things by using some conjuctions. Example, ‘’he was slaughtered like a goat’’(pg…. )

-‘’He wailed like a woman in a death home’’ (pg. 23)

-‘’They have pounced on you like a hungry leopards’’ (pg. 32)

‘’ I pended his remains like a man’’ (pg. 34)

-You work like a meteorological department.(pg. 22)

Metaphor, it is the figure of speech involve making comparison two things without use of conjuction. Example

-‘’ Jere you are wman..’’ (pg.10)

– Chiken heart…(pg.44)

Allusion, refer to making reference to biblical words,Example,…..the lest shall be first and blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.(pg.86)

Hyperbole, this is an exaggeration of fact, it is shown when Regina says, ‘’There is no brand of beer he hasn’t tested’’ (pg. 44)


This is the logical structure behind anything that has beginning, middle, and end, or it is a literary term that describes the events that make up the story or main part of the story.

There are two types of plot as chlonorogical and flashback. Francis Imbuga uses chlonorogical where the story starts from the beginning to the end with normal arrangement.

Example in the first scene starts with Nina and Doga in the grave of their son Adikawho was killed through university demonstration .Jusper come back to the deaths of his brother Doga and Nina suspect that he is mad, two soldiers come to ensure that ceremony is not held, but later Mulili and Jere disagrees for the ceremony to continue as a traditional believes

Scene two starts where Jere and Mosese are in jail because of turning against Boss illusion and Mosese was because of planted opium in his car by Nicodemas.

Scene three starts at Reginas room with Jusper, Mr. Tumbo comes to visit Regina and Mr.Tumbo request Jusper to write the interested play for the visitors from outside.

Act two, starts in the room committee where there were Kabito, Nicodemas, Mulili and Tumbo. Conflict arise between Mulili and Kabito

Scene two starts at Boss homes cutting out grey hairs, Mulili visits him after quarrel with Kabito, Boss order Mulili to kill Kabito and make it look like an accident, that’s Mulili gets revenge to Kabito

Scene three, starts when Jusper inter in the committee room to meet With Tumbo that he has no interest again to write the play because Boss raped Regina.

Scene four starts when Jusper and Tumbo they are making final preparation. Then Boss speaks with Jusper that the students have nothing to protest on the government Jere and Moses holds guns to challenge Boss. Also the scene shows when Mulili betrays Boss by saying he is not his cousin, the ends up when Jusper take gun and kills Mulili.

Therefore the play has used chronological plot where events are arranged from one event to another.


The play BETRAYAL IN THE CITY is relevant to Tanzania society and Africa at large since there some things done in Kafira state which also appear in our contemporary society they includes the following

Fear or suspicious ,the people in kafira live in great fear since they lack freedom of speech, this is also revealed in African society particular Tanzania where people  Lack freedom of expression example Roma the musician ,ben wa sanane ,the mp lema  were arrested because of revealing government realities.

The issue of betrayal ;as we have seen, the play is full of betrayal which range from culture to culture ,interpersonal to political betrayal example  mulili betrays B0ss ,tumbo betrays boss ,jusper betrays tumbo so there also this kind of people in our corporal  society  particular Tanzania for example the government  betrays her citizens by not accomplishing the promises ,since there many people suffering from  unemployment ,hunger  and othet related problems though he government promised them good life after election

Corruption ,this  also as manifested in the play is also relevance to to African societies where corruption has being a song, for example  escrow scandal  in Tanzania and Richmond also Jacob zuma in south Africa is also faced with then corruption scandals

The issue of irresponsibility as seen in the play, where by boss accept mulii’s words on kabito and orders  kabito to be killed without making a research about the  matter this also is relevance to African societies whereby there some leaders who are not responsible to their position

Nepotism and favoritism, the play has manifested nepotism and favoritism by showing Boss the head of the state who favors  mulili his cousin ,this is also relevant in African societies particular Tanzania were by there some people who are favored by being given the position to hold without qualification




Thanks for reading ENGLISH FORM SIX PLAY ANALYSIS :Betrayal In The City By Francis Mbuga

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