A Wreath for Udomo Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1956

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Political realism

Time of work: The 1950’s

Locale: London, southern France, and the country Panafrica

Characters DiscussedMichael Udomo

Michael Wreath for Udomo, AUdomo (ew-DOH-moh), a Panafrican who leads his country’s opposition to colonialism. A central characteristic of Udomo is that, even while a doctoral student in England, he is devoted to his country’s liberation. A major part of Udomo’s character is his leadership of the rebel African People’s Party on returning to Panafrica. As party leader and later as prime minister, Udomo reveals his personality as a political rebel: He is opposed to tribalism, associating it with factionalism and colonialism; he is in favor of modernization of Africa; and he feels that to achieve this goal, help from the colonialists will be needed. These views are important in moving the plot along to other Panafricans’ opposition to them. Udomo is shown to be a charismatic leader who meets with conflict in his ideas of how to build Panafrica after the end of colonialism.

Tom Lanwood

Tom Lanwood, a veteran revolutionary and political theorist from Panafrica who is nearing sixty years of age. While Udomo is in England, Lanwood is his idol for his dedication to revolution. After Udomo’s rise to power in Panafrica, when Lanwood returns, it is clear to Udomo that thirty years in England have made Lanwood woefully out of touch with the reality of the Panafrican situation. Lanwood, for example, believes that total Africanization of workers is needed, whereas Udomo and Mhendi both believe that European know-how is necessary, because the Panafrican people have not been adequately educated or prepared for total Africanization. Lanwood serves at least two purposes in advancing the plot: in showing Udomo’s growth from idol worshiper to leader who figuratively leaves his idol behind, and in making clear yet another difference of opinion Udomo faces with one of his Panafrican colleagues.

Selina

Selina (say-LEE-nah), a powerful Panafrican revolutionary. Selina is central in being able to sway women to the side of the revolutionary forces. She opposes Udomo on the questions of tribalism and Africanization. She is a staunch and uncompromising believer in both and believes that Udomo is moving much too slowly. Her disagreement with Udomo on this matter ultimately leads her to be in opposition to him.

David Adebhoy

David Adebhoy (ah-DEHY-boy), a Panafrican revolutionary who, like Selina, initially supports Udomo but who agrees with Selina’s views on tribalism and Africanization. Like Selina, Adebhoy ends up being opposed to Udomo because of these matters.

Davis Mhendi

Davis Mhendi (MAYN-dee), a revolutionary from Pluralia. Exiled in London as a result of a failed revolution, Mhendi returns to Africa after Udomo’s rise to power in Panafrica. Mhendi is a staunch revolutionary, believing that until colonialism leaves Pluralia, he and the revolutionaries with him should do everything possible to disrupt everyday life in Pluralia, cutting power lines and derailing trains, for example. Mhendi represents the dedicated subversive. The author makes it clear that the time has not yet come for this kind of revolutionary: Udomo leads the Pluralian colonists to kill Mhendi as a means to maintain whites’ support of Panafrica. Mhendi’s presence both reveals the author’s ideas of revolution and later shows that Udomo has been co-opted, to a degree, by white colonialists.

Paul Mabi

Paul Mabi (MAH-bee), a Panafrican artist and revolutionary. Mabi becomes especially important to Udomo because Udomo needs the support of the Panafrican mountain people, of which Mabi is one. Mabi thus comes to work quite closely with Udomo and is sympathetic to the pressures Udomo is under as a revolutionary leader.

Lois Barlow

Lois Barlow, Udomo’s thirty-five-year-old white lover. At first haunted by her dead husband, Lois comes to fall in love with Udomo. During their relationship, Lois illustrates the tension between Udomo’s private and political lives. Although Lois has a dream of being with Udomo forever, she realizes that his political work is more important to him and that someday she will have to let him go. Still, even as Udomo rises to power in Panafrica, he continues to be nostalgic about his interlude with her. Lois’ presence in the novel helps to portray the emotional aspect of Udomo’s life, in contrast to his political interests.

Maria

Maria, Mhendi’s Panafrican lover. Her resemblance to his wife, who was killed after the revolution attempt in Pluralia, expedites his falling in love with her. As with Lois and Udomo, Maria’s presence illustrates the importance of a political leader’s private life.

Jo Furse

Jo Furse, Lois’ roommate. She briefly has an affair with Udomo, resulting in her pregnancy and abortion. This latter incident is the catalyst in Lois leaving Udomo.

BibliographyMaduka, Chukwudi T. “Colonialism, Nation-Building, and the Revolutionary Intellectual in Peter Abrahams’ A Wreath for Udomo,” in Journal of Southern African Affairs. II (April, 1977), pp. 245-257.Ogungbesan, Kolawole. The Writings of Peter Abrahams, 1979.Scanlon, Paul A. “Dream and Reality in Abrahams’ A Wreath for Udomo,” in Obsidian: Black Literature in Review. VI (Spring/Summer, 1980), pp. 25-32.Wade, Michael. “Peter Abrahams,” in Modern African Writers, 1972. Edited by Gerald Moore.
Categories: Characters