Characters and Characterization - Fathers of Nations

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Character of Dr. Abiola Afolabi

Quick overview

A forty-five-year-old professor at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

Dr Afolabi studied at Harvard University in the USA. Dr Afolabi has also authored a book titled Failure of States.

Also staying at The Seamount Hotel. Will act as an advisor to the heads of state during the Gambian summit to be held at The Pinnacle Hotel.

He graduated from Harvard University in the United States, is currently teaching at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and is the author of Failure of Nations, according to journalist Fiona McKenzie.

He had earlier presented himself as the guide to the four men. His role in the summit was to be an advisor to the head of state.

It is important to note that Dr. Afolabi is 'The Guide".

Character traits of Dr Afolabi on Fathers of Nations


He expects total obedience from Professor Kimani despite never giving his name. He literally demands, ‘Obey, Professor Kimani, obey” (pg. 3).

He commands Pastor Chiamaka to obey him and not argue with him. Moreover, he demands and warns the pastor never to talk back to the Guide ever again (pg.18). 

When asked why he came to the summit, he proudly says he never came to the summit—he was invited by the president. (Pg 9)

After a comprehensive introduction by Ms. McKenzie, Dr. Abiola averted his eyes to enjoy the fame he had created. (Pg 6)

He dresses well and does not appear as typical professors do.

In pg.6, Ms McKenzie points out how she expected to see an academic scarecrow dressed in jeans but instead saw an attractive well-dressed man who might as well be a business person.

In pg.9 he emphasises the fact that he did not come to the summit but rather was invited by presidents.

Emphasis is placed on the word presidents.


He gives orders to Prof. Kimani to the extent of expecting a protest from him. HC even demands that Kimani obey him: "obey professor... obey" (Pg 3).

He also gives the same orders and demands to be obeyed when he calls Pastor Chiamaka. Don't argue, obey. (Pg 18)


Afolabi is such a self-preserving person. When asked who he is, he just says he is a guide; he never wants to reveal his identity (p. 4).

He even gets angry when Pastor Chiamaka insists on who he is (Pg. 17).

When he meets Pamela’s father (Pg. 67), he swears he would never disclose the scene to his wife Pamela (Pg. 70).

Afolabi is very much aware of the fact that his family is organizing for him to have another wife since his wife hasn't given birth. He never discloses it to his wife, Pamela. (Pg 80) 


Despite Ms. McKenzie’s ambush in Pg. 4, Dr Afolabi is friendly and talks easily with her good-naturedly.


At his first meeting with Prof. Kimani, he successfully convinces him to join Path Alpha.

To convince him, he repeatedly refers to Prof. Kimani’s history—something he is proud of. ..from your history again...

Hot tempered / temperamental / short tempered

Ms McKenzie says that his book was pessimistic and he goes off becoming rude and belittling Ms McKenzie (pg. 8-9).

He called her a third-rate reporter(pg.9). He gets especially angry when Ms McKenzie abruptly cuts him off as he is about to explain the similarities between his book is similar and Way Omega (pg.10).

The author uses phrases such as, ‘.... suppressing hot anger’ and ‘... he almost shouted’ to express how angry the doctor was at Ms McKenzie.

He snaps, ‘Later!’ at Professor Kimani when he asks the guide who he is (pg.3). When asked his name by Pastor Chiamaka he gets suddenly angry and shouts at him (pg.17).

He gets furious at Ms. McKenzie (Pg. 9) when she informs him that her boss wants her in his office in the middle of the interview; he gets annoyed to the point that, when asked if he is ok, he almost shouts.

When Prof. Kimani answers his phone but takes too long to respond, the person who conceals his identity and is referred to as the guide (later revealed to be Dr. Abiola) becomes very irritated very quickly.(Pg 2) Tired of so many questions from Pastor Chiamaka (Pg. 17), he shouts at the pastor, ordering him to shut his mouth.

Wise/ Intelligent

He has two documents: Way Omega and Path Alpha.

He understands what each proposes. In the summit, he is given the role of ensuring that Way Omega carries the day. but he sees Path Alpha as the only solution in Africa.

He devises a way of introducing Path Alpha into the summit—a rival ideology to Way Omega.

He says, "While Way Omega gives you a bird in the bush... Path Alpha presses the same bird into your hands" (Pg. 154).

He uses the proverb "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush."

When he calls Prof. Kimani, Kimani calls him a "cocky educated Nigerian" (Pg. 4) simply because of the way he pronounces every stressed syllable and his impeccable grammar (Pg. 3). 


He looks down upon Fiona McKenzie (Pg. 9). Ms McKenzie says that his book was pessimistic and he goes off becoming rude and belittling Ms McKenzie (pg. 8-9).

He thinks that Fiona is just a journalist who doesn’t know much about books.

This is when Ms. McKenzie terms him a pessimist in his book, "Failure of Nations."

What do you know about books in any way? (Pg9) While bragging about his superiority and how special he is, he also says that he never came to the meeting; instead, he was invited. Firm He orders the man carrying McKenzie carelessly by her waist to put her down.

When the man asks him whether he is a man enough to repeat what he has said, he says, "Yes, yes, I told you to put her down."


He hangs up the phone instead of answering Professor Kimani’s inquiry on his name (pg.4). He snaps at Pastor Chiamaka to shut his mouth as they are talking and arguing on the phone (pg.17).

Character of Pastor Chineke Chiamaka

Quick overview

He was a pastor of the Church Inside Africa in Lagos, Nigeria.

Chiamaka aged 50 is a male Nigerian clergyman.

Pastor Chiamaka’s church is the Church Inside Africa (C.I.A) located in Lagos.

He is the third of the foursome to sign in and he gets a room on the sixth floor in the west wing.

He was barred from preaching after criticizing the government, claiming that it should take action rather than just give advice.

Physical attributes 

Big and flabby/fat.

Character traits of Pastor Chineke Chiamaka in Fathers of Nations

Inquisitive/ Curious

He really wants to know who the secret guide is.

When told to shut up by the caller, he still insists. (Pg 17)


He critiques the government boldly and without fear in front of his congregation.

The congregants never respond because of the consequences, but this never deters him from speaking his mind.

According to her, the government is supposed to take action, not advise itself.

Pastor Chiamaka was arrested and barred from preaching for the same reason.(Pgs. 14, 115)


His sermons are persuasive. (Pg 110).

His sermon on Sunday was witty and persuasive. (Pg 114)

Short-tempered, emotional, or irritable

When the guide tells him that he has seen him at the bar Pastor Chiamaka gets annoyed.

He tells him candidly that he has begun getting on his nerves. (Pg. 19)

Do you know what, Mr. whoever you are? You are beginning to get on my nerves... When asked what kind of business he had in the bar, he felt a lump of anger rise up in his throat (Pg. 19).

This shows that he is bitter about the question the guide asked.


When the guide lowers his temper after the two have had an argument, Chiamaka uses the opportunity to ask him on the record more about who he is. "…Look! "You and I are supposed to be walking together, on the same mission," Pastor Chiamaka responds, "then why won’t you tell me your real name?" (Pg. 1–8)

Keen /Observant

When asked to identify the items in the briefcase he has received at the Seamount Hotel’s west wing, he correctly identifies them and is able to identify the phone he is using!

Character of Professor Karanja Kimani

Quick overview

Kimani is a Kenyan man of age 60 years. He is a Professor in the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Professor Kimani is the first to sign into the Seamount hotel and is given a room on the fourth floor in the East Wing.

He studied at the University of Oxford. Directly after his studies at Oxford, UON hired his as a senior lecturer as they wanted him to work for them that badly.

He was instrumental in changing the University of Nairobi motto to ‘Relevance to the Society.’

He’s also the ex-husband of Asiya Omondi as well as the father of Tuni.

Physical Attributes 

Old and is bald up to the crown of his head

Character traits of Karanja Kimani in Fathers of Nations


Professor Kimani is able to determine that ‘The Guide’ is an educated Nigerian man after noting how he seemingly injects anger into every syllable and on account of the man’s impeccable grammar (pg. 3-4). A conclusion which is ultimately proved to be correct.


He is a professor.

He studied at the University of Oxford. He is a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

Went to the university of Oxford (pg.21). Was offered a job as a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi straight out of the University of Oxford (pg.21).


He loved his wife, Asiya Omondi. When Asiya wants them to separate so that she gets married to Newborn Walomu, Prof. Kimani never agrees to it.

He tries his best to convince Asiya, but it falls on deaf ears. He loves his daughter, Tuni.

He’s really traumatized when she passes on; even after the burial, he mourns Tuni earnestly.


He pushed his agendas regardless of what others thought. Professor Kimani saw these agendas as his ‘wars.’

Only a month into his position as a senior lecturer at UON, he pushed for the university to strive for relevance to the society rather than simply excellence of its work and six months later he won as the university changed its motto to ‘‘Relevance to the Society’ (pg.21).

He pushed for UON to be an agent of change not a mere spectator of it regardless of others 9his collegues) viewing this idea as too radical and simple-minded (pg.21).


He abuses Newborn Walomu as a fat baboon—a greedy fat baboon.

This is when he goes to ask him why he stole his wife.


A pragmatic individual is one who thinks of or deals with issues logically, in accordance with the actual circumstances at hand, as opposed to according to predetermined theories, concepts, or rules.

He thinks practically, logically about issues of govenment and life.

For example, with his conversation with Tuni as they are eating ice-cream.

He logically relates the global economic recession to it bringing change to Africa in terms of adoption of foreign development strategies (pg.22-23). 

Short-tempered or hot tempered

Angry that Walomu stole his wife, he decides to go and attack him.


He is very idealistic.

An idealist is a person who cherishes or pursues high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc. a visionary or impractical person.

A person who represents things as they might or should be rather than as they are.

Though professor Kimani has idealistic ideas and thoughts he nevertheless does not hide from the reality of what is happening in the world around him.

He strives for change such as the changes he made as a university professor when he was still young.


An individual who is pessimistic tends to have a propensity for assuming the worst or viewing situations negatively.

Through out the book Professor Kimani is very pessimistic about the state of governance in Africa. Majory he cites the corruption perpetuated by politicians and that is pervasive in all areas of society, impunity and poverty.


Caustic in this sense means harshly critical.

He is harshly critical of the government and anyone he doesnt like.

Character of Comrade Ngobile Melusi

Quick overview

Melusi is a 70-year-old Zimbabwe national who is apparently not-employed because he registered at The Seamount Hotel under employment section as Not Applicable.

Comrade Melusi was the second to arrive at The Seamount and he was allocated a room on the fifth floor on the south wing.

He’s a comrade and citizen of Zimbabwe. He’s also a politician and the husband of Ziliza, who lost her life to tribal clashes.

Physical attributes 

Old and has a bushy moustache

Character traits of Ngobile Melusi in Fathers of Nations


When he discovers that he is diabetic, he reads pamphlets about it with an interest similar to that with which first-time car owners read manuals (Pg. 83).

He wants to know more about diabetes and how to manage it. This attitude pays off; he is now an authority on diabetes. (Pg 83)


He insisted that he must get in with his needle, and indeed he succeeds.

He never succumbs to the officer’s demands,  so, sir, I will let you in with your medicine after all; please proceed. (Pg 85)


He observes that they were the only customers, yet it was 1:30 pm, noting that the economy had crashed.


He loved his wife, Ziliza, dearly. When narrating how he lost her, he cries... Comrade Melusi begins to glisten with the onset of tears. (Pg 90)

He's lying in bed, daydreaming about Ziliza.

He reaches out for his wallet, then pulls out her photograph... just to bring out the memories.

The caller tells Comrade Melusi to come urgently to a meeting in an hour, yet Comrade Melusi returns to his wife’s photo.

This shows how Comrade Melusi loved his wife. 

Character of Engineer Seif Tahir

Quick Overview

He is a former employee of the ministry of defense in Libya.

Tahir is a 40 plus years old Libyan engineer formerly employed by the Tripoli’s Ministry of defence.

Engineer Tahir is the last of the foursome to check into the hotel and is allocates a room on the third floor of the North wing.

He joins the "Fist of Allah" right after returning from overseas. It was later dismantled.

Character traits of Seif Tahir Fathers of Nations


He feels humiliated when Rahmah Mahmoud says no to his advances. (pg 121)


He retaliates for his advances being rejected by Rahmah Mahmoud. He slaps her, claiming that she shed her veil in public—a violation of the Libyan culture.


He deeply regrets that Rahmah lost her ey.

He loses peace because of the court verdict, the "I Lammurabi verdict"—"an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" (Pg. 122)—and the author claims he is more restless now than he has ever been. (Pg 122) 

Newborn Walomu: Character and Role

He has formerly been a junior colleague of Prof. Kimani at the University of Nairobi.

He is an MP—a rich MP with four cars. He "stole" Prof. Kimani‘s wife, Asiya.


When he leaves teaching, he swims in money and amasses a lot of wealth, which attracts Kimani’s wife to him. (Pg 30)

Immoral/ Promiscuous

Walomu has three wives, and Asiya will be his fourth, yet he has many other women whom he engages in sexual activity with—those he calls "killed but not eaten" (Pg. 36).

He goes on to say that a true bull dies with his grass in his mouth. (Pg 37) 

Fiona McKenzie

Quick Overview

Adopted parents are Ian and Elspeth McKenzie; Scottish missionaries who were in Banjul.

Her birth parents died when Fiona was less than a year old and that was when she was adopted.

Ms. McKenzie is 35 years of age and works for The Gambian News as a reporter though as she is in the middle of an interview with Dr Afolabi she is abruptly called into the office and sent off on loan to the Voice of America (VOA).

Character traits of Fiona in Fathers of Nations


When she first meets Dr Afolabi, she commands him to follow her and shows him where to sit and expects her command to be obeyed (pg. 5).

Dr Afolabi follows her command despite not knowing who she is or why she wants him to follow and sit with her. 


She jokingly tells Dr. Abiola to go take a photo because he is young for his forty-five years. "Go have your picture taken right now, Dr. Afolabi, You won’t always look this good. "I am joking, go." (Pg6)


She thanks Dr. Afolabi for agreeing to have an interview with her. "First and foremost, I want to thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview."


When her boss calls her, she tells Dr. Afolabi, "The silly boss wants me." (Pg 10)


McKenzie was spitting words with bile left in her mouth from an earlier exchange (Pg 134).

She could no longer hide her anger. (Pg 135) 


She questions Dr Afolabi’s support of Way Omega demanding to know if his support of the document is due to the contents within or the prestige of its authors (pg.8).

She points out that Dr Afolabi’s book is in stark contrast to Way Omega with regard to the future of Africa.


She continuously continues to affirm and question Dr Afolabi on the pessimistic nature of his book despite the fact that Dr Afolabi opposes the view that his book is pessimistic about the future of Africa (pg. 8-9).


In her initial meeting with Dr Afolabi, she incessantly asks him the same question and demands an answer despite Dr Afolabi’s taking offence in her line of questioning (pg. 8-9).

Also, Dr Afolabi outrightly accuses her of being rude (pg.9)

Despite having accosted Dr Afolabi she leaves abruptly cutting him short which angers the good doctor (pg.10).

She calls her boss ‘silly boss’ (pg.10).

Tunisia nicknamed ‘Tuni’ 

Daughter to Professor Kimani and his wife Asiya.

She was named Tuni as it was believed that Tunisia was her country of conception (pg.22).

Dies in a freak road accident.

Character traits of Tuni in Fathers of Nations


She understands her father well (pg.22-24).

For example, she is able to follow her father’s complex conversation about the state of jobs and incomes despite being very young.


She observes that her father is not enjoying his ice-cream despite him not saying a word about it (pg.23). 



Firm/ Determined/ Resolute 


Asiya Omondi

Previously wife to Prof. Kimani and mother to Tuni, she divorced Prof. Kimani because of his financial status; she’s now wife to Newborn Walomu.


She chooses to marry Newborn Walomu at the age of sixty because he is wealthy and owns four cars.

He leaves Prof. Kimani because he is poor, having only one car, which is again faulty. (Pg 33)

Even when Prof. Kimani says that money doesn’t guarantee happiness, she says, "Never having had it, how would you know that it doesn't?" 

Rahmah Mahmoud


When Seif Tahir slaps her, she becomes emotional and strikes Seifin in the left eye, slitting it open. (Pg 122)


She slits Seif’s eye after a slight provocation from Seife. President Didier Banguiora


After considering what the first two speakers had said, he decided to support Path Alpha.

He says candidly that there is no need to adopt Way Omega because it was once adopted. 

President Simba Ibarosa


He has never spoken up to make friends or make amends; he is free to express his feelings and opinions. 

President Wasiwasi Wesiga


He anticipated many coups and nipped them in the bud before they got off the ground.

At the summation, he reminds the chair of the "trick" when he realizes that the situation is getting out of hand (Pg. 65). 12.

Thaddues Longway


It is his first meeting with Dr. Afolabi, but he knows that he is the man serving as an adviser to the heads of state at the summit (Pg. 73).

He is also aware of Way Omega and Path Alpha, and he tells Dr. Afolabi that Way Omega and Path Alpha differ like day and night in that Way Omega is top-driven and lacks the will of implementation.

Path Alpha is bottom-led, and it has will.


When Dr. Afolabi is adamant about being the guide for Path Alpha travelers, Tad Longway informs him that there is no problem since he’s the advisor to the summit.

He tells him to look at what Way Omega is recommending for adoption and what Path Alpha is proposing as an alternative. He tells him that he is open-minded. (Pg 74)

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