They Sold My Sister

This study guide will help you analyse the text “They Sold My Sister” by Leteipa Ole Sunkuli. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message, and help you put the text in perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “They Sold My Sister” (1989)
Author: Leteipa Ole Sunkuli
Genre: Short story

Leteipa Ole Sunkuli is a Kenyan writer and editor. He is best known for the book Dictionary of Oral Literature.

"They Sold My Sister" was published in the anthology Looking for a Rain God and Other Short Stories from Africa.


You can find an excerpt from our study guide to the text below:


The title of the story—“They Sold My Sister”—is intriguing before reading the story and hints at one of the main themes of the text— forced marriages. The title represents the narrator’s perspective on the traditional Maasai marriage negotiations: “My father's hands quaked as he took the money. My mother smiled. I rubbed my wet eyes. They sold my sister.” (ll. 17-19)

In the Maasai tradition, the family of a young woman is given a “dowry” (l. 21) by the man who wants to marry the woman. The family of the husband pays the family of the bride in money, cattle, and objects, without the bride having any say in how the marriage is arranged.

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They Sold My Sister

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