- Mugo, a loner who became a hero after leading a hunger strike in a British concentration camp and trying to stop a village guard from beating a pregnant woman to death. Although he is thought to be a hero throughout the whole book, he is the traitor who betrayed Kihika to the British in the hope of collecting a reward.
- Gikonyo, an ambitious carpenter and business man married to Mumbi. He confessed to taking the oath of the resistance while in a concentration camp, securing an early release only to find that his wife had borne a child with his hated rival Karanja while he was away.
- Mumbi, the wife of Gikonyo and sister of Kihika. While Gikonyo was imprisoned she slept with Karanja, who had been appointed village chief by the colonial power.
- Karanja, a collaborator with the British and widely suspected to be the traitor.
- Kihika, a resistance fighter who conquered a police station and killed the hated District Officer Robson. He was caught and hanged after being betrayed by Mugo.
- John Thompson, an early British settler and administrator of Thabai, who believes in the ideals of colonial imperialism and persecutes black Africans.
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