Language and Style (Stylistic Devices) - Guide to the Inheritance Play by David Mulwa

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  •  It is employed in the prologue. Governor Thorne regards the natives' customs as primitive. Menninger sees them as lacking originality and common reason yet they can hardly comprehend the wisdom in the 'long winded proverbs' of the natives. They also depend on the natives' republic to sustain their empire.
  • It is ironical that the British claim to have brought civilization to the natives through schools yet their main motive is to rob the same natives of their valuables. They fear King Kutula and regard him as "an ingenious rascal" (p. 15). and a dangerous man. "This king is dangerous like the queen bee, he sanctions the sting and the toiling workers indiscriminately descend upon our people"
  • It is ironical that much as the natives expected better lives after independence, the worst is happening to them in form of neocolonialism. Lacuna is more greedy, corrupt and dictatorial than his predecessors. (movement one)
  • It is also ironical how Lacuna claims that Kutula is a sovereign state yet he has brought its economy to its knees; it is heavily in debt. Goldstein tells him "...A sovereign state without authority and money is lower than a slave... "(p. 74)
  • It is ironical that Lacuna regards Kutula as a sovereign state yet it is broke and begging for aid. His misrule has made the state sink lower than the status of a slave.
  • It is ironical that Goldstein thought that educating Sangoi in the west would make her divide the people further by indoctrinating them to support the whites but she turns out to be the lioness he feared she would become


  • In a flashback, Tamina reveals to the reader reasons behind Bengo's imprisonment and Judah's exile. It turns out that Kutula requires Judah to kill his brother, Bengo for being a thorn in Lacuna's political side. When Judah Zen Melo disobeys, he is almost killed as his mangled body is found damped outside their house and Dr. Jonathan saves him. Later Bengo is imprisoned.
  • The death of King Kutula XV is told through a flashback. Lacuna reveals the day he poisons his father and describes the manner in which he administers the poison. His guilt is evident but he covers it through the justification of his evil act. He says, "He bought it with his life so that we can inherit a comfortable life. " (p. 69)


  • Tamina refers to Lacuna and his cronies as an octopus that implies the strong power and the ability to stretch out, to reach and control anyone and anything they wish to get.
  • "And our leopards move among Lacuna's forces, pretending loyalty." (pg.124). The word "leopards" is used metaphorically by the young male leader to mean "prowling spies."


  • Lacuna's address to the grave of his father is a case of apostrophe in the play. He addresses his late father to bring out the immediacy of the festival.


  • Goldstein comments about the native's obsession with celebrations "...You people celebrate everything even when the sun shrivels..." (pg 59)
  • Robert sarcastically says, "Oh! I'd love to see...the dead and the living sharing!" (p. 59)
  • Goldstein flatters Lacuna's leadership with sarcasm when he compares his regime to that of his late father, King Kutula. He takes advantage of his greed and uses him to achieve his agenda as the queen's representative. "...It was time to bring Kutula back to dignity and high civilization...our people found a man ...your Excellency...a man of " (p. 68)
  • Robert and Goldstein address Lacuna sarcastically "...Twas nice doing business with you, old pal... " (p. 112) after they trasnfer his savings from his many foreign accounts


  • The author satirizes Lacuna when he blames his late father for having left him a disastrous leadership for inheritance. He blames Kutula 's averse nature to economic development and his strange obsession with multiplication of mosques and churches which leaves the economy in shambles yet he (Lacuna) has not sustained, and in some cases, not started any of the economic projects for which he has been advanced billions of shillings as loans for funding.
  • Robert and Goldstein satirize Lacuna's miseries. They seem particularly excited at catching him unawares. They muse at his shock on their knowledge of his financial standing
  • The author satirizes Lacuna by casting him as an ignorant and arrogant leader. Lacuna threatens Goldstein when he insists that new players will be involved in business. Lacuna tells him "...A python never strikes except in hunger..."(pg. 108). When Goldstein and Robert corner him and clear his foreign accounts in foreign countries; Lacuna panics and begins to plead for pardon and a second chance. Nonetheless, they transfer the money from his account and his balance reads zero.
  • Lacuna demands that Goldstein and Robert give him guns and ammunition to force his people out of the mountains if they resist, in order to fulfill the conditions pegged on the loan. This is satirical and quite laughable.
  • The author satirizes the leaders. All is lost for the tough talking Robert and Goldstein as they set out to destabilize the citizens. Lacuna bows and is no longer powerful. He is in the hands of the very people he oppressed. Chipande and Malipoa join their leader in custody.

Use of Proverbs

  • Lacuna questions Robert, "How is a father to be if visitors come to advise the children about their toys?" (pg. 81 ).
  • This implies Lacuna 's discontentment with the interference in Kutula 's foreign matters by the Whiteman.
  • Robert and Goldstein use a proverb to mock Lacuna "...Goldstein, what was that a crude proverb you are fond of using about these people?" (p. 110) "... A tethered hen has no power?"


  • Tamina is excited about a possible bright future with her family but ironically death is imminent. Zen Melo is killed in a premeditated murder at the mines by the faulty machines. He has served faithfully with the hope to contribute to the quadrupling of production and to providefortunes to change the life of his family for the better. Tamima looks forward to better times


  • The leaders are to avoid causing harm to anyone and this is symbolized by the carrying of doves ".. to signal our peace and resolve?" (Pg. 127)

Biblical Allusion

  • The "five foolish virgins"(pg.124) is a biblical allusion used to liken the leaders during the meeting at dawn to the foolish virgins after Sangoi enters and the leaders glide to the corner ready to take off.
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