Talking Money Analysis - A Silent Song and Other Stories Easy Elimu Study Guide

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Talking Money by Stanley Gazemba

About the Author

Stanley Gazemba, is a Kenyan native born in 1974 in Vihiga, Kenya.


Stanley is the author of three books: The Stone Hills of Maragoli (released in the United States as Forbidden Fruit), Khama (DigitalBackBooks), and Callused Hands (Nsemia).

Having trained as a journalist, Gazemba has written for publications such as The New York Times, The East African, Msanii magazine, Sunday Nation, and Saturday Nation. In 2007, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference's International Fellow was Gazemba.

In addition, he has written eight books for kids, including A Scare in the Village (Oxford University Press), which was awarded the 2015 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Children's Fiction. The literary review (Fairleigh Dickinson University), Man of the House and Other New Short Stories from Kenya (CCC Press), Africa39: New Writing From Africa South of the Sahara (Bloomsbury), 'A' is for Ancestors, a collection of short stories from the Caine Prize (Jacana), Africa39: New Writing From Africa North of the Sahara (Bloomsbury), Africa39: New Writing From Africa South of the Sahara (Bloomsbury), and Crossing Border online magazine; among other publications.

Today, Gazemba lives in Nairobi where he is the editor of Ketebul Music.

The Title

The title "Talking Money" is very fitting for the story because it is both literal and figurative.

On a literal level, the money that Mukidanyi receives from Galo, after selling his land, is described as speaking in strange disembodied voices.

This is a shocking and eerie moment for Mukidanyi, as he and his wife hear the money "talking" from under their bed.

The money seems to have a life of its own and is described as "playful" and "hungry" which adds to the eerie feeling surrounding the money.

On a figurative level, "Talking Money" also refers to the way in which money can influence and control people's actions and thoughts.

The story hints at the fact that the money is the root of all evil, corrupting those who have it and causing them to lose sight of what is truly important.

Mukidanyi's wife and brothers warned him not to sell his land to Galo and yet, he did.

His decision was influenced by the promise of a large sum of money and now that he has it, he has lost sight of what is truly important and is terrified of the money that is speaking to him.

Overall, the title "Talking Money" is appropriate for the story as it not only refers to the literal talking of the money but also the figurative way that money can control and corrupt people's actions.

The Plot Summary

Short summary - a man sells a piece of land to some shady characters against the advice of his family and friends only to find out that the money he is given as payment is cursed

The story is set in the vast rural expanse of Kakamega, Kenya. It is about a man named Mukidanyi who lives in a rural area and sells land to a wealthy man named Galo.

He is warned against this transaction by his wife Ronika, and also by his brothers, Ngoseywe and Agoya.

Mukidanyi’s brothers Ngoseywe and Agoya give up on him and leave. Obsessed with money in his mind, he refuses to heed his wife’s counsel and instead flogs her.

Despite their warnings, Mukidanyi goes ahead and signs papers, accepting a large sum of money from Galo.

After the papers are signed and the money is received, strange occurrences start happening in Mukidanyi's house.

Voices are heard coming from under the bed where the money was kept.

Frightened by these events, Ronika forces Mukidanyi to return the money and the land back to Galo in the middle of the night.

Mukidanyi, scared and regretful, runs away from the house with the money, and delivers it back to Galo, then he runs away in fear not stopping until he feels safe.

Long summary -  The story begins when a man named Mukindayi decides to sell his land to Galo.

When Mukidanyi's brothers, Ngoseywe and Agoya, try to talk him out of making a bad decision, he yells at them and kicks them out of his house.

Their argument almost escalates into a violent brawl.

He declares arrogantly that he does not require anyone's assistance. He want complete control over his household.

He is adamant on selling his land, despite his brothers' wishes. He is so upset that the neighbors can only watch helplessly from a distance.

Later that evening, his wife, Ronika, attempts to persuade him not to sell the land without first consultation and advises him to seek advice from others.

He initially ignores her before fiercely lashing her, effectively extinguishing her reasonable argument.

He ignores her entreaties about the Galos money not being good.

Mukidanyi opposes his brothers and his wife by selling the land to Galo.

Despite his willingness to engage in a physical brawl with Galo, Galo agrees to pay half a million shillings without negotiating.

You may excuse Mukidanyi for being a pigheaded fool due to his obstinacy.

He is not, however, a complete moron.

On the one hand, he is illiterate since he used to slip out of school, skip classes, and spend his days playing simbi and roasting stolen maize with his errant companions.

On the other side, he is a savvy cattle trader with exceptional business acumen.

He is unable to sign the business paperwork supplied by Galo's assistant following the sale of the land since he is illiterate.

After all, he needs the presence of Ngoseywe and Agoya.

Galo offers him a suitcase containing 500,000 shillings in cash when the messy paper business is finished.

Mukidanyi is too taken aback to count the money in the briefcase.

He unknowingly informs Galo that he trusts him. Would a clansman, after all, deceive him?

Mukidanyi feels nervous that night.

He does not consume his supper.

He is unable to sleep that night.

He awakens twice to ensure that the money is still safely attached to the bedpost.

He also awakens Ronika, who is still irritated from the earlier whipping.

When he attempts to sleep again, something strange happens.

The money in the suitcase begins casually talking, much like a couple of rambunctious schoolboys sauntering home from school.

The pair is terrified as a result of this strange encounter.

Mukidanyi, who was formerly wilful and allegedly gallant, recoils like a panicked chicken.

He is terrified when he hears the odd voices.

In fear, he shakes and sweats. When he asks, "Who were they?" his confident voice is turned to a terrified child's murmur.

Ronika scolds, derides, and laughs uncontrollably at him. She mocks him for not listening to other people saying: 

“I warned you about the Galos, didn’t I? Eh? Ngoseywe and Agoya warned you too against this, didn’t they, big man? And what did you eh? Tell me what did you do?”

The money talks again, this time complaining about the couples' argument.

“I don’t like their shouting. It was better with the silence.”

Ronika has had enough. She drags Mukidanyi and forces him to unlock the briefcase's locks.

She then snarls at him, hurls the briefcase outside, and orders him to chase it down.

Their terrified children are astounded to see their mother so furious and their father so terrified.

To say the least, the trek to the Galos is eerie.

Mukidanyi is frightened by mysterious night creatures that swim around him and menace him.

Nonetheless, he is determined to return the strange briefcase to Galo.

Galo is only a few hundred yards away, but it feels like a mile.

As Mukidanyi moves forward, the case becomes heavier and heavier.

The money is eventually returned by the obstinate man. He also changes his mind about selling his land.

“I changed my mind about selling the land. Here is your money.”

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Moral lesson of the story - "It is prudent to listen to wise counsel. Failure to heed good advice may result in unwanted consequences."

Key moments in the story

  • The expulsion (pp. 49-50) forces his brothers to leave his home.
  • The assault (on page 50)Mukidanyi assaults Ronika.
  • The deal (pages 50-51) sells land to Galo for 500,000 shillings 
  • sleepless night (p. 53) Mukidanyi is unable to sleep.
  • Talking money (pp. 53- 54)  The money begins to talk 
  • Ronika's rage (pp. 55) Ronika compel Mukidanyi to return the talking money.
  • Travel to the Galos (page 55) Mukidanyi gives the money back to the Galos.
  • Change of heart (pp. 56) Mukidanyi reconsiders selling the land.

Characters and characterization

Character List

  • Mukidanyi: main character, an uneducated man who makes a living through buying and selling cattle, he was never been to a classroom but he has mastered the art of buying and selling and had experience handling money.
  • Ronika: Mukidanyi's wife, she expressed her concerns and reservations about the money and warned him against it but he went ahead.
  • Galo: A man who offers to buy Mukidanyi's land for a large sum of money and also warned by Mukidanyi's family.
  • Ngoseywe and Agoya: They warned Mukidanyi about the Galos and their history.
  • Kizungu: Mukidanyi's father who tried to take him to school but failed.
  • Proprietress: A fat woman whom Mukidanyi and his buddies used to steal pinches at the rump of.
  • Mukidanyi's children: They were woken up by the raised voices of their parents and witness the scene.

Character Traits


Mukidanyi is a furious young man and a cattle trader who ignores his elder brothers’ warning against selling his land.

  • Illiterate: He never went to school and "never been to any classroom to speak of"
  • Gullible: Trusts Galo with a large sum of money without counting it
  • Nervous: When confronted with the money, he gets nervous and his hands shake
  • Jumpy: He's always alert and wakes up easily, "he had always slept with one ear open"
  • Superstitious: He believes in viganda spirits and other unseen creatures.
  • Cautious: He is afraid of the briefcase once he realizes it has spirits in it, and he's scared to touch it
  • Cowardly: When the spirits voice their complaints, he quickly gives the money back, "Tossing the heavy briefcase over the gate".
  • Greedy: Despite his superstitions and fears he could not resist the large sum of money and went ahead to sell the land, despite being warned by his wife and friends.


  • Strong-willed and assertive:, as seen in her reaction to the talking money incident where she is the one who takes charge and forces Mukidanyi to take the money out of their home.
  • Superstitious: as she immediately recognizes that the voices coming from the briefcase are those of spirits and speaks about her belief in witchcraft and viganda spirits
  • Easily frightened: as seen when she is frightened and clutching onto Mukidanyi's wrist during the incident with the talking money.
  • Protector: she protects her family and is easily worried about her family safety. This is seen in the way she kept urging Mukidanyi to take the money and leave the house.


  • Confident and self-assured, demonstrated by the way he conducted his business with Mukidanyi, offering him money and telling him when and how the land transfer would happen.
  • Calm and composed, demonstrated by the way he handled Mukidanyi's sudden change of heart and return of the money.
  • Possibly dishonest or at least not entirely transparent, suggested by the fact that the money seemed to have some sort of strange power or curse associated with it, and by the fact that Mukidanyi, Ronika, and possibly others had warned against doing business with him.


Greed and corruption

It is clear in the story that Galo and his associates are willing to go to great lengths to acquire Mukidanyi's land.

They use their wealth and influence to offer him a large sum of money, which he finds hard to resist.

They also try to manipulate him, using flattery and false promises to make him trust them.

This theme of greed and corruption is present throughout the story, as the characters use deceitful means to gain something they desire.

Tradition and culture

The story is set in a rural community, and the characters hold strong traditional values.

For example, Mukidanyi is warned against selling the land by Ngoseywe and Agoya, his traditional leaders, who urge him to consider the cultural significance of the land for the community.

This theme is also present in the way Mukidanyi's wife, Ronika, understands and interprets the supernatural occurrences around the money, as vigand spirits or witches.

Tension between modernity and tradition

The story presents the reader with the contrast of traditional rural values, and the attraction and threat of modernity in the form of the urban life that is offered by Galo and his associates.

Good versus evil

This theme is presented through the contrast between the honorable and honest characters such as Mukidanyi, Ronika, Ngoseywe and Agoya, and the dishonest and deceitful characters such as Galo and his associates.

Superstition and belief in the supernatural

Ronika and other villagers believe in the existence of spirits and evil forces, and the idea that certain actions can bring about bad luck or misfortune.

Materialism and the corrupting influence of money

The story shows how the pursuit of wealth and material possessions can lead to ethical dilemmas, as well as leading people to do things against their better judgment.

Social class and power dynamics

Galo is wealthy and well-educated, while Mukidanyi is poor and uneducated. This creates a power imbalance between them, with Galo and his associates able to take advantage of Mukidanyi.

Trust and deception

Galo and his associates appear to be trustworthy and genuine in their intentions, but ultimately deceive Mukidanyi and take advantage of his lack of education and experience with such matters.

Rural vs Urban life

Mukidanyi, a rural person and is not used to dealing with money and the complexities of land deals and is taken advantage of by the urban and more sophisticated Galo and his associates.


Galo and associates exploit the trust and naivety of Mukidanyi for their own gain and profit.

Stylistic Devices


When an idea or animal is given human characteristics. “The sky weeps.”

When the voices from the money described it being warm, or the tendril snaking out of the darkness and biting his ankle.

It is a figurative language used to give an inanimate object a human characteristic.


Comparing two things using the words “like” or “as”.

When Mukidanyi made comparison of the journey from his compound to the Galos' as "like a mile with that scary case that got heavier and heavier in his hand with every footstep"


Repeating words or phrases.

(There are actually many different types of repetition like anaphora and epiphora.)

"Magu! Magu!” the spirits in the money repeated, it emphasizes their excitement and highlights that they are enjoying.


Exaggeration of ideas.

"The longest journey Mukidanyi had ever undertaken in his life." is an exaggeration to emphasize the difficulty of the journey he took


Foreshadowing is a literary device used to give an indication or hint of what is to come later in the story.

Foreshadowing is useful for creating suspense, a feeling of unease, a sense of curiosity, or a mark that things may not be as they seem.

"Ronika! I trust you, my friend. I don't think you would lie to a clansman, Galo." this statement foreshadows the bad things that would happen later because of trusting Galo.


Symbolism is the use of words or images to symbolize specific concepts, people, objects, or events.

The briefcase full of money symbolizes greed, temptation, and the corrupting influence of wealth.


The definition of irony as a literary device is a situation in which there is a contrast between expectation and reality.

For example, the difference between what something appears to mean versus its literal meaning

The voices coming from the money are laughing and enjoying their new found warmth, while Mukidanyi is scared and paranoid.

Revision questions for Talking Money

  1. Do you think Mukidanyi regrets his irresponsible decision? Explain.
  2. How relevant is the title of the story, Talking money?
  3. Why do you think the money given to Mukidanyi “talks’ only at night while in his custody?
  4. Do you think the Galos are responsible for the talking of the money?
  5. Explore and discuss the existence of the following themes in Talking Money
    1. Ethnocentric beliefs in spirits
    2. Primitive superstition on sources of money
    3. Obsession with money and the power of guilt
    4. Importance of consulting family



Yes, Mukidanyi regrets his irresponsible decision because he gets quite scared when he hears the money talking. It is at this point that he realizes that the Galos money is not "clean." When he returns the briefcase to Mr. Galo, he does not engage in a lengthy discussion. He just throws the money to him and runs back home.


Refer here

Ethnocentric beliefs in spirits.

The concept of social superstition rooted in people’s culture is linked with belief in good and bad luck as a context-derived concept affects the people of that culture in various aspects.

Although the concept of superstition is common, many of its features and aspects are still unclear. Some questions about these beliefs remain baffling and unanswered. Engulfed with immense doubt, Mukidanyi decides to obey his wife’s words and beliefs about the Galos. (p50).

  • At night, the hour of witches, viganda haunt He hears voices speaking, and he believes they are not dreaming voices. (p54).
  • Then his wife Ronika scoldingly tells him those are certainly viganda spirits speaking. (p54).

Primitive superstition on sources of money

Ronika takes advantage of her husband’s extreme fear and makes more fun of him. She reassures him that the Galos’ money is speaking in the briefcase under the bed. (p54).

  • Confident and sure that he is terrified, she shouts and scoffs at him to take the money “Go with your devil money this very minute and find somewhere else to keep it but not in this house, you hear?” (p55).

Obsession with money and the power of guilt

  • The tough speaking and abusive man is now humbled and reduced to a whispering weakling (Mukidanyi).
  • Definitely, the warnings are ricocheting in his mind because of his guilt and failure to consult before beginning the process of selling his land.
  • Scared by the unseen demons, Mukidanyi flees back to the Galos, returning all the money. (p55, 56).

Importance of consulting family

  • Mukidanyi sells his land to Galo and associates clearly against the advice of his family and friends only to find out that the money he is given as payment is cursed
  • If he had only heeded the advice of his friends and family, maybe the outcome would have been a good one.
  • In the long run, Mukidanyi is only left with his wife to trust, and his house is the only refuge at this ‘hour of witches’.

Essay Question

  1. Ignoring wise counsel is dangerous. Making reference to Talking Money, write an essay to justify this claim.


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