The story of Matigari can be viewed in many aspects of literary accomplishment, philosophical debate and political tryst. The main character, Matigari, searches the countryside to find “truth and justice” in a country that has just emerged from a bloody battle for independence. What Matigari finds is that the government has not been transformed despite supposed concessions, peace is only a word that holds little meaning and the voicing of repetitious ideals does not make them reality.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o wrote Matigari with many ambivalent characteristics to allow the main character to blend into whomever the listener imagined him to be. Male or female, young or old, strong or weak, Matigari appeals to the folklore tradition of becoming the vehicle of social ambiguity to enhance philosophical and political debate. His journey for “truth and justice” is free of gender or bias of identity and knows no limit of time.
The government also plays the role of remaining ambiguously pure, parroting the same catch phrases over broadcasts to a worn country that is deaf to the message. The government does not entertain a new idea or varying from the message of the past in order to lull the people to complacency. Matigari insists that the government “sells the truth” to those who “love the truth”.
However, Matigari is just as guilty of “selling the truth” as the government is. Thiong’o wrote the story of Matigari as an oration not a dialogue. There is no room to hear the voices of those in government or the supposed masses that elevated Matigari to near hero status. The reader is sold the ideals of Matigari as Thiong’o weaves the journey of a hero that is more chameleon like in his oration than traditionally heroic and inciting change. As Matigari attempt to convert people to the cause of truth and justice, he is guilty of leading them into a world that is just as fraudulent as the one they are victim of by the government. The imperialistic government parroted “democracy and the rule of law” govern the land but reality was that multinational corporations owned the government and acted as puppet masters. In the end, Matigari learned that “truth” dies and justice is something that the government is capable of writing into history but incapable of performing. Even though Matigari feels “all alone in the entire country” , it is natural that he should feel that way since he is the only one fooled into the naïve notion that wars are won and justice prevails.Paper Masters