Mongo Beti's Mission To Kala As A Bildungsroman/Narrative Of Growth.

This work examines Mongo Beti's Mission to Kala as a narrative of growth or Bildungsroman. Check the meaning and features of a narrative of growth or Bildungsroman here

At the beginning of the novel, we are exposed to the protagonist and narrator, Jean Marie Medza. As a young boy and student, he is been sponsored by his father. Having failed is examination in college, Medza is scared of his father’s wrath. He is known by his villagers as a failure because he failed his examination.This is evidenced on page five where his Aunty, Aunty Amou, tells him that all they know him in the village is that he has failed (p.5).

As the narrative progresses, we also find out that Medza is a virgin; he has neither touched nor slept with a woman. He has phobia for women as he says: “The very least I could do was to conquer my fear for women-even divorces. I would learn how to respond to their advances”(p.59). 

As a young boy Medza believes what his brother told him. He was meant to believe that a virgin like him needs to be de flowered by a city girl who is experienced(that is, a girl who has been de flowered long ago)and by so doing, he will learn more about sex quickly.

Despite Medza’s failure, he is sent on a mission to kala to retrieve Niam’s wife. In kala, he discovers many truths about life and becomes experienced. He falls in love with Edima and for the first time, he kisses, romances and makes love to a woman (p.95 & 138).
Furthermore, a boy with a low or no reputation in his school and village is seen as a celebrity in kala. The people of kala see him as a young boy with the white man’s wisdom because of his learning and diplomats. He is able to orally give answers to the questions of both the old men and young boys. This is a growth in the character of Medza because the Medza we meet in the beginning of the novel is totally different from the one we  meet in the middle of the novel.

There is also a marked growth, change and development at the end of the narrative in the character of Jean Marie Medza. At the end as Medza returns to his village from kala, he resolves not to be scared of his father anymore. He is no longer concerned whether his father is angry with him or not due to the fact that he failed his examination. He says his father cannot trash him anymore that if he pushes him to the limit, there is only one possible result, which is to fight back(p.172).He even challenges his father and fights him openly. (p.176).

At the end, Medza leaves Edima with his parents; leaves his village; rewrites the failed exam in October that year and passes it. Afterward, he gets a job and never returns to his father’s house. 

All these show that Medza has reached maturity where he can decide for himself. However, it is important to note that Medza's development is a failed one because he runs away. He does not face his father squarely.

In sum, in spite of the fact that Jean Marie Medza's growth and development is a failed one, one cannot deny Mongo Beta's Mission to Kala as a narrative of growth/Bildungsroman because it is crystal clear that Mongo Beti uses growth and development as motifs in order to showcase the developmental process of his protagonist from childhood innoncence to maturity.

Beti, Mongo. Mission to Kaka.Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books; 1964. Print.

Tamuno Reuben

Those who seek knowledge seek power because the pen is mightier than the sword.


  1. I ready enjoy the novel, it was discuss well hope you all do more.

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