Time and physical setting

The events in the short story “The Gentlemen of the Jungle” by Jomo Kenyatta take place “once upon a time” in the jungle. However, the honorary title “Rt Hon" and the entire analogy presented in the story suggests that it takes place during the British rule in Africa.

The jungle is inhabited by both wild animals and by man, although the man lives “at the edge of the forest” , suggesting a separation between the animal and human worlds. However, the man and animals are able to talk to each other, indicating that the world of the story is imaginary, because it is a fable.

The story begins at the man’s first hut, which is occupied by the elephant, and ends at the bigger hut he builds to trap and kill the animals. The story also mentions the huts he builds after the elephant takes his first one, and which are forcibly occupied by the animals.

The physical setting, however, is a metaphor for colonised African nations, as suggested by the use of an African dialect by the man: “He sat down and said, 'Ng'enda thi ndagaga motegi,'…” . Furthermore, as the story aims to illustrate the relationship of unequal power between British colonisers and the colonies they rule, it could also be considered a metaphor for the corrupt societies created in the colonies.

Social setting

The colonial rulers

We notice that the jungle is organised like a kingdom, which is ruled by the lion. Throughout the fable, he is associated with the white ruler of a colonised province. The lion is angered by the argument between the man and the elephant , because he wants “‘peace and tranquillity’” in his kingdom. The lion also appoints a Commission to solve the argument between the man and the elephant, indicating that he dislikes the practical aspects of his role. Like the white ruler in the colonies, he does not get involved in the colonists’ pro...

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