Free Study Guide Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe BookNotes|
THE LIFE OF THE TRIBE
A religion that is both mysterious and homely is revealed. Its vitality calls upon the sincerity of its followers who support it with a lot of conviction. At the same time, Achebe also informs the reader about life in the tribe, its customs and manners, its government and its administration of justice, its religious rites and beliefs, etc. A town crier always announces a meeting of the tribe where important decisions are made. Men and women with loathsome diseases are abandoned in the Evil Forest. Unoka, Okonkwo’s own father, suffers this fate. Twins too are abandoned in the same way. The egwugwu, who are the masked representation of their ancestral spirits, are deeply respected and revered. It is they who administer justice in the land, and are portrayed as awesome and almost supernatural. Certain superstitious and religious beliefs like the importance of the Oracle of the Hills and Caves are also highlighted.
The reader is also informed about the agricultural pattern - The Week of Peace, the planting of the Yams, the New Yam feast, followed by the dry season - The Harmattan - and the exquisite taste of locusts. Medical help, both herbal and psychological treatment, is meted out for illnesses. Ezinma was believed to be out of danger when the medicine man found her iyi-uwa. However when she later falls sick Okonkwo prescribes a herbal brew which relieves Ezinma of her fever.
Many folk-tales are related in the novel, like the story of the tortoise, the tortoise and the cat which reveal the strange nuances of their society and culture as well as the importance of stories and their pedagogical value. Morals and values are described through these seemingly simple tales of animals.
Social customs such as marriage ceremonies, funeral arrangements, and
the gaining of titles are described in great detail to give the reader
a glimpse of the way of life of Igbo, especially that of the clans members
of Umuofia. Although many of these customs are similar throughout Igbo
culture, it is important to remember that each village develops their
own customs and rituals as well as dialects and that many villages were
often at warfare with each other. These differences were exploited by
the colonialists who often pitted clan against clan to gain control over