Tufia, simply tell me the end.
Who wrote this book and when?
The most renowned African author of our time, Chinua Achebe, wrote this book in 1958.
Has there been a movie made of this book?
Who are the main characters?
Okonkwo – a famous wrestler of the Ibo nation who is wealthy and committed to the ways of his people
Ikemefuna – a boy from the village Mbaino given to Okonkwo’s village as payment for a murder in order to avoid war
Ezinma – Okonkwo’s favorite daughter
Nwoye – Okonkwo’s oldest son
Ekwefi – Ezinma’s mother and Okonkwo’s favorite and second wife
Chielo – the priestess of the Umuofia Oracle of the Hills and Caves and one of Ekwefi’s best friends
Mr. Kiagi – the missionary at Mbanto
Mr. Brown – the head missionary at Iguedo
Mr. Smith – the zealous missionary who replaces Mr. Brown
What’s it about?
Okonkwo is from Iguedo, one of the nine villages of Umuofia – a clan of the Ibo (or Igbo) people in Nigeria. He is the son of one of the laziest men in history, and for this reason works very hard. Now that his father is dead, Okonkwo has become famous for beating one of the best wrestlers of the Ibo people. Okonkwo has three wives and eight children, plus a very large housing establishment.
This story not only tells about the culture and customs of the Ibo people, but their downfall due to the white man’s influence and the personal downfall of Okonkwo through his own faults and the circumstances which plagued his time.
Why is this book a classic?
Because it was the first book by an African author to gain this much recognition. Also, because it was one of the first to depict the African native people as civilized people – not cannibals or wildmen continually possessed by devils. It explains their way of life in a matter-of-fact, natural manner.
Why should I read this book?
For the above reasons. It isn’t long and it isn’t hard to read. And it will teach you about Africa.
Has it won any awards?
No, but the author is the most decorated African author in history.
“Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.” p5
“And so he [Okonkwo] was always happy when he heard him [Nwoye] grumbling about women. That showed that in time he would be able to control his women-folk. No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and children (and especially his women) he was not really a man. He was like the man in the song who had ten and one wives and not enough soup for his foo-foo.” p 37
The author of this book, Chinua Achebe, has been one of the most outspoken individuals against the prejudice in “Heart of Darkness.”
I love this book. Of course, I’m biased because I love most things which have to do with African history or culture. But I appreciate this in depth view into the lives of African native cultures without the bias of white/western beliefs. True, it is a tragic story. And I always come out of it being angry with my own race for their inability to accept another way of life than their own. It causes conflict within myself because all of this death and destruction and torture is done in the name of Christ.
I would recommend this book to anyone. It’ll teach you a little something about tolerance and challenge your own idea of “normal” and “acceptable.” But it does it in a way even Western thinkers can understand since it’s written as a classic tragedy – similar to even Shakespeare. There is no one cause for a man’s downfall. The guilt lies not only within himself and his own weakness, but with outside forces as well.