Summary and Analysis of The Old Man and The Medal by Ferdinand Oyono

by Kev


Old man and the medal is a work that explores the neglect of the poor masses’ the neglect of the black by the white , how the white men where maltreating the black during the colonial era .The novel started when the white men invited Meka to the city Meka went  on that day he meet the commandant who informed him of the medal which would be given to him by the chief of the white in Timber  that the chief will come to Doum to give him the medal of friendship with the white ,everybody in Doum was so happy for Meka they where so happy about the news .

When the village beyond heard of it they were also happy for Meka and everybody was busy preparing for it for that day 14th July which will be the day the chife of the white will give Meka the medal of friendship on that day Meka wore his best cloth and a new shoe to the place after given him the medal he was invited to take a drink with the white men he was so happy ,and on that faithful Day he got drunk on his way home after the drink at night it started raining and he lost his medal of friendship with the white men.

On getting to Doum still in the white men area two constable men meet him and ask him of his pepper or light but Meka had non, he explained to the that he was the one the white men gave Medal but they started laughing at him they beat him up and put him in the cell for him to see Gullet the chief white man in command after the beating and pushing of the previous night when Gullet saw him he spat on his face after telling him who the man was he apologised but Meka didn’t listened to him they release him but Meka started regretting all he had done for the white men likewise the villagers .


The story started with Meka and his wife Kelara living in Doum Meka who was invited by the commandant of white, who invited him telling him that the great chief of white men who is at Timber is coming to give him a medal of friendship on 14th of July. This made Meka to be very happy about the news he went home and informed his people about the medal of friendship they were all happy about it saying that Meka is know a great man that he now have power that he is powerful to be the friend of the white. They promised to give him a medal because of the land he gave to the white, the land was used in building the church and also his two sons that died at war for the white,that was why he had no child he remained childless.

 His medal made him to bought a anew cloth and shoe for that day, his relatives came to rejoice with him everybody was so happy for him that he is the friend of the white this attracted so many people far away from their villages especially his brother-in –law and his wife Engamba and Amalia .On that day after standing on the great sun for hours waiting for the chief of the whites men to come and give him the medal with his shoes that was paining him he endured all that just because of the medal , after giving him the medal they invited him for a drink which he went  the white he was very happy about that he got drunk that day ,during the night he set to go home on his way going home it started raining which made him to lost his medal and ever where was dark he couldn’t see the road and the flood was too much while he was passing through the presidential or administrative centre road , the policemen meet him and requested for a pepper or a touch light from Meka but he had non he tried to explain to them that he was the one given the medal ,that he was the one the white man gave the Medal of friendship but they ignored him and they started laughing at him they beat him up and took him to the station ,and put him in the cell till the next day  they asked him to wait for Gullet the chief commandant who spat on his face the following morning before the constable told him who he was that he was the one the white men gave the medal of friendship. He later start to beg Meka asking for forgiveness telling him to forgive him that it was a mistake but Meka didn’t listen to him he left the station to his house.

 Before than everybody was bordered about his way about what was holding him since last night ,when he came back ever body was so happy about his return ,he told them everything that happened  how they beat him up and spat on his face they started regretting coursing the white men Meka started regretting all he had done for the white his land and his two son who died at war front just for the white who humiliated him and also his wife Kelara who also regretted and morn her two sons that died .


The novel was set in Doum and some events took place in Zourian and Ndoloman the time the work was written during the colonial era, the time the we were beung colonized by the white.


In the novel the white men speaks English while the people of Doum speaks Mvema . In the work if the white men wants to speak to the people there is always someone to interpreter who explaine what the white men are saying in Mvema to the to the people of Doum.

Point of view

The narrator used third person point of view

Tone and Mood

In the work the tone of the writer was serious in telling us what the white men was doing to the people they where colonising how they neglect the people.

Mood the beginning of the work makes one to be happy for Meka ,but the end after he was been give medal was sorrowful and unfair because of what the police men did to Meka on the administrative area while going home .

Characters and Characterisation


In the novel Meka was the one the white men gave a medal of friendship on 14th July because of his two sons who died during the war and his land that he gave the white men that they used in the building of the church .Meka in the story is Kelara’s husband who love the white and believed in them. But at last in the novel he was disappointed he regretted every single thing he did for them after they had beating him and spat on his face the day after he was given the medal he went home and told his people what happened to him and what that happened to him and everybody was angry about what that happened to him and also the whole village hates the white for that act .


She was Meka’s wife who loves his husband so much in the work she was a good wife who took good care of Meka and loved him for what he is .She is the Enamba’s sister who was born in Zourian she became Meka’s wife because his father realised that Meka was a man who had other man behind him that is why Kelara’s father called her when she was still small a baby with a fat belly and had her set on Meka’s lap, and he told Meka that’s your wife you can come and fetch her when she is ready that was how she became Meka’s wife she is a very good and good wife and she is the one that help him with his shoe when it was paining him.


Meka’s brother- in-law and Kelara’s brother he was among Meka’s brother-in-law who came to Doum for the medal to rejoice with Meka he went with goat and other food items, he was the one that went to Administrative centre to look for Meka ,after they have waited for him to come back who reached and couldn’t go in to the commandant without any invitation which made him to went back.


In the work she is the wife of Engamba a good wife who followed her husband to Doum to rejoice with Meka for the medal which the white men promised to give him .She lived at zourian with her husband Engamba .

Father Vandermayer

Was a white priest in Doum he was the one incharge of the church in Doum on the day Meka was given the medal of friendship, Meka touched him on the shoulder and asked him a question which he ignored he wanted to ask him when they were to go to African community centre but the priest shot an angry glance at Meka and waved him away sharply with the back of his hand Meka could not believe his eyes.


The Use of Irony

In the work when Engamba came back from the administrative centre and saw that the people are celebrating he started shouting at them telling them that they are not supposed to drink that Meka was laying helplessly on the baboo bed; he was only joking he just wanted to know what they will say.


In the work Engamba remembered the day Meka became his brother-in-law, how his father was a great man and how he is used to accept visitors and strangers one day when Meka passed through Zourian ,he came to Engamba’s house and Engamba’s father realised that he was a an who had other man behind him. He called Kelara and handed her over to Meka and told him to come for her when she is ready and due for marriage.



  • Theme of disappointment
  • Theme of regret
  • Theme of discovery

Theme of disappointment

In the work Meka was disappointed after given out his two sons to the white men for war and his land to the white for the building of the church and all they used to pay him back was discrimination. He was given a medal which is not like the one given to the Greek, and the medal also got lost while it was raining, and also Father Vandermayour who surprised him when he wanted to ask him a question.

Theme of regret

Engamba regretted going to Doum because he promised his people to come back with good news, and to tell Meka to inform the white men that they need a good road that will led them from Zourianto Doum Meka also regretted all he had done for the white people ‘

Theme of discovery

After Meka had been given the medal of friendship the people discover that there is a great different between the black and the white ,that the white cannot take them as one of them which they thought of and that the white had been misleading them for a very long time which they never know hoping that they are the same apart from colour.


In the work the medal which the white men gave to Meka symbolised friendship

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