Igbo Culture

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An Internal Viewpoint of Igbo Culture: Things Fall Apart Although there are many biased European views of the small agricultural villages that occupied Africa in the eighteen hundreds, we have a primary source of the African culture in Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart. Achebe was born in Nigeria in an Igbo town in 1930 and was educated in Nigeria at the University of Ibadan. Being exposed to Igbo culture his whole life, Achebe knows the language, the proverbs, the food, the religion and all parts of Igbo culture better than European conquerors and missionaries. Chinua Achebe provides an insider's point of view of Igbo culture during the time of European arrival in the novel Things Fall Apart through figurative language, storytelling…show more content…
From the beginning of the book we know this without any needed interpretation, as it is clearly stated by Achebe that “Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly and proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten” (pg.7). Palm oil is used to make palm wine, a wine that the Igbo drink quite heavily. Palm wine, like any wine, can be drunk with food or without food. When palm wine is drunk with food, it helps wash down and digest the food, just as proverbs are said to help make absorbing words easier. In this metaphor and in the entire novel, the Igbo are portrayed as a people who put deep thought and analysis into their words, whereas the Westerners seem to put less thought into their words. This does not apply to all Westerners or all Igbo since people are not unified in all morals and thoughts with their fellow countrymen. The missionaries seem to be good people using their words with good intentions; intentions to help the African people. They are trying to fix their culture into one where they follow the one true God in whom he himself believes. The missionary proclaims to them that their gods “are gods of deceit who tell you to kill your fellows and destroy innocent children” (pg. 146). He tries to stop the cultural practice of leaving twins in the forest to die. The missionary takes his words very seriously and knows the power of words. The…show more content…
Okonkwo is a character devised to portray a very different impact Europeans had on some Africans. From the beginning Okonkwo puts his faith in the Igbo culture. He has spent his life working his way from being a poor unlucky boy with no inheritance to a successful and titled man of the village. He followed the Igbo religion wholeheartedly, even killing Ikemefuna, whom he loved more than his own son. Although he feels bad about the murder for a few short days, he had still acted on his faith in the spirits to commit it. His faith in the spirits must have been greater than his love for Ikemefuna anyhow because he proclaims to his friend Obierika in bewilderment three days later “I cannot understand why you refused to come with us to kill that boy”(pg. 66). He continues to hold fast to the Igbo way throughout the book. He has a compound with an obi for himself, three huts for his three wives, a personal god and symbols for his departed fathers. He plants his yams, and the cycle of growing and eating and living revolves like clockwork (pg. 130). At the end of the novel he cannot stand to change his ways to those of the white man. The new religion that the Europeans have introduced is seen as evil to him, as are their customs of justice and courts. Okonkwo grieves for his changed society. “He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart” (pg. 183). Eventually

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