This is the third book of the trilogy. It is similar to the first one –Things Fall Apart – in the sense that this story happened in the same area Eastern Nigeria, Igbo land but a different village. And as such, it is, also the story of the colonization of the Igbo people by the British empire. The story is in the point of view of an animist priest, Ezeulu.”Eze” meaning priest and “Ulu” being the God he serves.
As you know, French-speaking Africa has always been lagging behind English-speaking Africa. Why is it the case? well, we don’t really know. I say we, because I am from french speaking Africa. Of course, they are a lot of theories on the subject, but one can never be sure of what the people are saying these days.
One fine day, I was having this conversation with one of my friend who told me that. It all boils down to the way we were colonized. So when the French came to west Africa, they basically destroyed the local culture and imposed their own culture. While the british set up a parallel system, to the native system, to govern them. At the time of the discussion, I though, it all made sense. What else could it be?
In this book, we get to learn that my friend was right. The british did not destroy the native culture as they called it in the book. What they did were set up rulers within the communities and they used those rulers to govern the country. I found really brilliant the strategy they used.
In any case, this is the set up of the novel. The other major point worth mentioning is the struggle between the natives themselves, when the white man arrives in their land. Some people could see that the white man was a great evil. But Others couldn’t. And so, the Igbo people became divided over the issue on how to treat the intrusion. This is a recurrent theme in the first book as well. The white man strategy was to divided and conquered. And so they did. But we have to keep in mind that, this strategy can only work, if the people you are trying to conquer help you.This help can take different forms and we could have a great debate on it. There is a great proverb about this issue in the book. Ezeulu, the priest said :” when two brothers fights over a piece of land a stranger reaps the harvest”.
In another instance, Ezeulu said :”How many white man went in their party to destroy Abame ? Do you know? Five…Now, have you heard that five people – even if their head reached the sky – could overrun a whole clan – Impossible.”
He, then, continue on this idea and said :”with all their power and magic white men would not have overrun entire Olu and Igbo if we did not help them”. This is the central theme of the book – betrayal of their own people. I strongly believe that this is still an issue even now. We shall call it the tragedy of black people.
The book is beautifully written, but we were not expecting less from the father of Africa’s modern literature. One can almost feel like being under the neem tree and listening to stories about your ancestors. I strongly recommend you this trilogy if you have not already read it.
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