In Rugelo’s Baho! we are shown a character who is tried for rape. He is unable to defend himself because of his inability to speak. His inability to speak makes Nyrumagi an outsider among his people. In his society to be a man in a masculine sense he needs to carry himself well this includes vocally. In the book Rugelo states,”He is superstitious he believes in man. and since one should seek meaning only in the comprehensible, he endeavors to come to terms with the fears of man. Man dismantles, creates, and destroys again. This much is apparent. Behold, the master of the world.” When one reads Rugelo’s interpretation of this scene. Nyrumagi is supposedly master of the world, but cannot verbally ask for a cup of water. He is dependent on a world where it is essentially everyone for themself.
Communication in this world is important. So is education, but in order to be educated he had to be able to communicate. So this puts him at an disadvantage communication wise. Especially when it comes to his hearing. He is being tried for something he didn’t commit, but cannot communicate his innocence. When one looks at the way they try to explain his affliction they rely more on superstition than medicine. What does this mean to Nyrumagi? That justice is meant for people who look and act like the people in the courts. If he isn’t then he is automatically guilty. Part of that mentality is fear of the unknown. The disabled person in this case is something that needs to be cured not understood. In his book Rugelo book states, “You degenerate excuse of a man!” rages the vigilante Judge. As he spits in his face.” (30) As soon as it became clear he can’t form the correct words it becomes easier to question his masculinity. To see him as different. Rugelo mixes both Language, and societal pressure to give this sense of injustice. He didn’t commit the act of rape, but it doesnt matter to the court. Plus when you read Nyrumragi’s torture he is treated less than human or in this case without a soul.
Nyrumragi is souless, and treated without compassion.
His father talks about him not possibly being able to go to the school. But at the same time he is not treated well by anyone. In the book his father would say, “Why the White man’s school select those who are normal, and not you, my child? The strong, the intelligent, those who know how to speak.” (53) By being mute he has lost his identity in either world. He cannot be apart of the Education brought by the Europeans or Agriculture culture of his village in Africa. He is a stranger to both. Nor can he hope to mimic, at best he can gesture. What most holds him back is being alone to fend for himself. In school Nyrumagi is laughed at, and Rugelo says, “A cheerful laugh, as any child is capable of…” (54) From a young age Nyrumagi is made to feel an outcast. Feel different from the things that tie him to god, the culture, his sense of identity. In some ways he views himself to blame for his condition. But in a society where life is very hard the one’s incapable of keeping up are usually left behind.
So Rugelo ties muteness as a medition on how the human condition is. It’s not always kind to everyone. It’s brutal to those who people see as less human or different. It goes to the overall meaning of justice. He is outcasted, and tortured for something outside of his control. The justice is called into question.