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Out of Africa

Isak Dinesen

Book Two, A Shooting Accident on the Farm: From "Wamai" to "A Kikuyu Chief"

Book Two, A Shooting Accident on the Farm: "The Shooting Accident" to "Riding in the Reserve"

Book Two, A Shooting Accident on the Farm: From "Wamai" to "A Kikuyu Chief", page 2

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Summary

Wamai

A group of elders finally convenes to deal with the shooting and determines to deal first with the death of Wamai, as the condition of Wanyangerri is not yet finalized. Kinanu, the father of the shooter, Kabero, is being held responsible for his son's crime. Kaninu is one of the richest squatters on the farm with five wives and much livestock. The death of Wamai has made his already poor father, Jogona, significantly poorer, as Wamai was his only child. The narrator argues during the deliberation that it was just an accident and no one is responsible. The elders do not agree. Eventually, they determine that Kaninu must pay Jogona forty sheep.

Several days after the settlement, some Kikuyus from another area arrive and try to claim that they deserve the settlement because their brother, not Jogona, was actually Wamai's biological father. Jogona visits the narrator and gives her his account, which she types up for legal purposes. Jogona explains that he knew Wamai's true father and, at the time of his death, owed him money. The two men agreed that if Jogona took on the dying man's wife and Wamai, and finished paying the bride price on the wife, his debt would be relieved. When Wamai's father died, Jogona fully adopted Wamai and his mother and assumed all costs for them.

Jogona appears overjoyed that his account has been inscribed on a written page. He keeps the note in a leather pouch and later uses it to dismiss the claim of those who wanted his settlement. After the incident, Jogona still carries his pouch with him. Whenever he sees the narrator, he asks her to read it to him, looking proud as she does. The narrator finds that many native people are fascinated by stories in written form, whereas they might dismiss the same story told to them orally. Before the Europeans arrived, there was no written form of Swahili.

Wanyangerri

At the hospital, the doctors have reshaped Wanyangerri's jaw by using a piece of metal. He later is able to eat and speak.

The narrator eventually learns that Kabero, the boy who shot the gun, still is alive and has been adopted by a rich, childless Masai. She tells Kabero's father, Kaninu, to bring Kabero to her when he returns to the farm. Five years later Kaninu does so. In his years away, Kabero has become an elegant young Masai warrior, who wears his hair in the Masai way and walks in a formal manner like the Masai. The narrator believes that the Masai are the most aristocratic of the local tribes. They were once warriors and apparently die within three months if placed in jail.

Long before Kabero returns though, the matter of compensation for Wanyangerri is settled, although in a slightly unusual way. A few weeks after Wanyangerri returns, fairly healthy although with some chewing difficulties, Kaninu appears at the farm looking ill. He explains that he has given ten sheep to Wanyangerri's father and is now going to give him a cow and a calf as well. The narrator asks him why he has done so, since there has not yet been a council meeting. Kaninu will not say why.

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