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Essay on the Ibo’s Sacred Relationship in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

The Ibo’s Sacred Relationship in Things Fall Apart

The Ibo people had a very sacred relationship with their landscape. Their entire existence depended on their environment and nature was sacred to them. This is unlike the English who came to the lower Niger with imperialistic goals of “civilizing” these “primitive” people. The Europeans were more technologically advanced, but in this progression they lost touch with nature and the spiritual connection with this significant aspect of the world. The Ibo on the other hand personified nature and turned to deities as well as ancestral spirits for guidance in their survival against unexplainable and often uncontrollable forces. When hardships arise they attempt to appease their gods and their spirits through sacrifice and ritual. Nature is a major theme of the religion of the Ibo and spirituality is very closely associated with the earth.

Nature was also consulted in times of conflict between tribesmen. When Uzowulu was accused of beating his wife excessively her family took the case to the egwugwu, or the spirits of the nine sons, of the original father of the clan, which gave rise to the nine villages in the clan. These spirits were in reality men in the tribe wearing masks, but all of the villagers put their faith in the idea that these bodies are in fact occupied by spirits of ancestors who will offer advise in a time of hardship. With the commencement of the hearing of Uzowulu before these masked spirits he touches the ground as a sign of submission to the higher powers. While Uzowulu will only listen to the decision of the egwugwu because they are beyond any mortal, he overlooks the fact that these decision-makers are really his fellow villagers. This fai…

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…landscape in which these people live. To kill a royal python is such an unfathomable crime, that there is not even a punishment prescribed for the act, and when the convert kills the python the people do not even think that it could have possible been done intentionally. This reveals the significance of nature as sacred.

All aspects of the landscape were made sacred because these people greatly depended on nature for survival and many aspects were inexplicable, so they were given supernatural explanations to aid in an otherwise unattainable resolution. This people were greatly misunderstood by colonialists who sought to “civilize” them and attempted to thrust Christianity upon an uninterested audience to aid in the control and “pacification” of a people that apparently already had a worthy explanation and understanding of the world in which they lived.

Essay on themes in Things Fall Apart and Second Coming

Similar Themes in Things Fall Apart and The Second Coming

The novel “Things Fall Apart” examines African culture before the colonial infiltration. Achebe’s novel forces us to examine the customs and traditions that make up an informal culture. At times we may find some their practices appalling, but Achebe makes us realize that the traditions and customs are what essentially hold the Ibo together. Achebe wrote ‘Things Fall Apart” with the intention of changing the common view of African culture. He wrote the novel from an insider’s perspective, revealing that African culture was not solely based on barbaric and mindless rituals. Achebe reveals the affects of the colonial infiltration on African societies. Through his novel he examines how colonization disturbed the unity and balance of a once strong cultural society.

William Butler Yeats, a renowned Irish poet, responded similarly to Achebe during World War II by writing the “Second Coming”.

Yeats wrote his poem in response to the rise of fascism and communism which threatened to destroy Europe. Yeats believed that history revolved in two thousand-year cycles. The end of the cycles resulted in chaos and destruction. Much like “Things Fall Apart”, “The Second Coming” addresses the idea of balance, interdependence, individualism, and community. Achebe shows how the interruption of the cyles in the Ibo culture caused things to slowly fall apart. The poem addresses the cyclic movements of events and history. As a result, both can be seen as being intertwined.

Yeats opens his poem with a doom-like statement. He states “Turning and turning in the widening gyre.” This enhances the cyclic image that Yeats is trying to portray. Here, Y…

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In many ways the changes that the missionaries brought upon the Ibo were unavoidable. The rituals and cyclic view the Ibo had of time held their culture together. The Ibo did not hold on to their ideas of interdepenence and community. Therefore, they were more suspetable to surcoming to the ways of the white man. The colonial infiltration caused the Ibo to not only loose their cultural identity, but their voice. The missionaries alterations brought silece among the native dialect of the Ibo. Achebe states at the end of the novel “even now they have not found the mouth with which to tell of their suffering.” From this quote it is apparent that there is little left of the Ibo culture. The colonial infliltration caused the Ibo to fall apart, and break the vital cycle that once held their culture together.

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