- Njoroge: the main character of the book whose main goal throughout the book is to become as educated as possible.
- Ngotho: Njoroge's father. He works for Mr.Howlands and is respected by him until he attacks Jacobo at a workers strike. He is fired and the family is forced to move to another section of the country. Over the course of the book his position as the central power of the family weakened, to the point where his self-realization that he has spent his whole life waiting for the prophecy (that proclaims the blacks will be returned their land) to come true rather than fighting the power of the British, leads to his depression.
- Nyokabi and Njeri: the two wives of Ngotho. Njere is Ngotho's first wife, and mother of Boro, Kamau, and Kori. Nyokabi is his second wife, and the mother of Njoroge and Mwangi.
- Njoroge has four brothers: Boro, Kamau, Kori and Mwangi (who is Njoroge's only full brother, who died in World War II).
- Boro: Son of Njeri who fights for the British in World War II. Upon returning his anger against the British is compounded by their stealing of the Kenyan's land. Boro's anger and position as eldest son leads him to question and ridicule Ngotho, which eventually defeats their father's will (upon realizing his life was wasted waiting and not acting). It is eventually revealed that Boro is the leader of the Mau Mau (earlier alluded to as "entering politics") and murders Mr.Howlands. He is caught by police immediately after and is scheduled to be executed by the book's end. It is highly likely that it is also Boro who kills Jacobo.
- Mwihaki: Njoroge's best friend (and later develops into his love interest). Daughter of Jacobo. When it is revealed that his family killed Jacobo (most likely Boro), Mwihaki distances herself from Njoroge, asking for time to mourn her father and care for her mother.
- Jacobo: Mwikaki's father and an important landowner. Chief of the village.
- Mr. Howlands: A white Englishman who came to Kenya and now owns a farm made up of land that originally belonged to Ngotho's ancestors. Has three children: Peter who died in World War II before the book's beginning, a daughter who becomes a missionary, and Stephen who meets Njoroge in High School.
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