"His ankles ring with circles of dried tree seeds. As he walks into the yard, he asks the women to sweep his footprints from the ground behind him." [p.50]
"Mashoko is convinced that Mr. Browning came out of his motherŐs stomach with his legs to the sun." [p. 46]
"Mr. Browning does not answer, but turns around and walks back the same way he has come." [p. 52]
"The African must begin to go somewhere. He must be given a goal in the future." [p. 53]
Throughout the novel, Nehanda, Vera makes various references to journey and direction, both stated and implied. As a reader, all of these references can be overlooked, seen as simple techniques employed by the author to develop the text. However, this may not be the case.
Within each of the following examples, physical direction points toward an inner direction. The ways in which one goes on his feet indicate the direction in which his intentions go as well. This can be seen not only as a part of the lives of the villagers; the attention paid to Mr. Browning shows that such a belief is much less limited.
The n'anga which visits the village to confirm "the identity of the spirit troubling Nehanda" makes the request that his footprints are swept from the ground behind him. Possibly, one might suggest that this was an act of respect for the gods of the earth; however, the act does not occur at any other point in the text. My assertion is that this act demonstrates that the nŐanga must know where he is going, for he will go but once -- as though he must not return to the place from whence he comes to figure out where he is going. He has come to benefit the villagers.
As Mashoko watches Mr. Browning eat, he is "convinced that Mr. Browning came out of his motherŐs stomach with his legs to the sun." Assuming the universal context that head -- first are babies brought into the world, MashokoŐs theory indicates an understanding of the disturbing and unnatural nature of the stranger. He has come to change the villagers.
In another instance, the reader encounters Mr. Browning reacting to another white man, Mr. Smith, who comes to visit him. "[He] does not answer, but turns around and walks back the same way he has come." Obviously, Mr. Browning has unnatural intentions. A cooperating "stranger" comes to visit him and he walks back along the same path. Surely, one who has come to aid in the domination of such a heathen people would reinforce the godly intentions of Mr. Browning. What is discovered, though, is that he does not intend to help the villagers.
It is quite ironic that someone with such uncertainty believes that it is his duty to give goals to the Africans who have no direction.