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REFLECTIONS OF AFRICAN CULTURE IN ACHEBE’S THINGS FALL APART

INTRODUCTION

African literature is a manifestation of African culture, African society, African historical, political, social and religious experiences. Thus, it is a reflection and celebration of African culture (Awa, 2006). Achebe therefore depicts an Igbo society which has dignity and prominence in his Things Fall Apart. All the same, Achebe did not forget to present the weaknesses in the Igbo culture that require drastic and immediate change thus, eliminating the gloomy ones for the growth and development of his revered society.

Democracy is a system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule directly or through freely elected representatives. So, Abraham Lincoln the 16th President of America describes Democracy as “The government of the people, by the people and for the people”. This is opposed to dictatorship, where absolute power is vested in a tyrant. Achebe presents the Igbo society that has a democratic system of government. For instance, before important decisions are taken, the elders or “Ndichie” and others gather together at the village square or Ilo or at the market place to take decisions that affect the people or individuals. The community is in control and the collective will and decision of the members of the community prevail. This is what obtains in a democratic dispensation. This is seen in chapter 1, P.9, where the people were informed that a daughter of Umuofia was killed in Mbaino. Collectively the people agreed that Umuofia should follow the law-going to war with Umuofia or offering Umuofia a young man and a young Virgin as compensation for the death of the daughter of Umuofia.

Many others spoke, and at the end it was decided to follow the normal course of action (P. 9)

Justice is another feature of democracy. Justice is the legal or philosophical theory by which fairness is administered. Achebe’s Igbo system adopts an effective and efficient system of justice. This makes Igbo system noble. Disputes in the community are presented to the elders or the egwugwu, the greatest and respected  masked spirits of the land, which is played by the titled men of the clan. This is the tribunal who takes decisions after hearing from the both sides. This is observed in chapter ten of Things Fall Apart, where the village holds a ceremonial gathering to administer justice. The village ancestral spirits, known as egwugwu are presented with the case of Uzowulu, who reports that his in-laws took his wife Mgbafor and therefore, request the  return of  her bride price to him. Odukwe , Mgbafor’s brother clarifies that his family took Mgbafor to rescue her from daily brutal beatings by Uzowulu, her husband. He maintains that his sister will return to her husband only if he swears never to beat her again. The egwugwu consult and their leader, the Evil Forest, gave a verdict, that Uzowulu takes wine to his in-laws and begs his wife to come back home. He reminds Uzowulu that “fighting a woman is not braver.

It is not bravery when a man fights a woman P. 75

Odukwu is also instructed to accept his brother-in-law’s offer and Mgbafor returns to her husband. To Uzowulu,

Go to your in-laws with a pot of wine and beg your wife to return to you P.75 To Odukwe

If your in-law brings wine to you let your sister go with him. P. 75

Trouble erupts as this acceptable system of justice is interfered with by the intrusion of the district commissioners and court messengers, Christianity.

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