Things Fall Apart
– And On Earth, Strife And Goodwill Towards Men Essay, Research Paper
The burden and calling to reach out and help others, enfold many people in society throughout the world. Rich or poor, young or old, black, red or white, the motive is helping those with a need. As Chinua Achebe points out in his book, Things Fall Apart, though there is the aspiration to lend a hand, it can sometimes becomes deadly, and even fatal to the lives of people. Although the missionaries try help convert the Ibo village of Umuofia to Christianity, their presence in Africa is harmful to the lives and culture of the Ibo.
The men that come to Umuofia destroy the cultural balance of faith and religion that encompasses the native people in Africa. People in Umuofia depend strongly on the ancestors and gods in their culture. It is their tradition and their beginning, from which they govern their lives. Even the priestess that serves the god Agbala, ??was full of the power of her god, and she was greatly feared? (16). Without the stronghold of customs and traditions, only chaos exists. Peace, trust, and knowledge are thrown off when the new religion of Christianity is introduced. When the missionary explains that:
?All the gods you have named are not gods at all. They are gods of deceit
who tell you to kill your fellows and destroy innocent children. There is
only one true God and He has the earth, the sky, you and me and all of us? (121).
Decisions, opinions, and beliefs become uncertain and doubt appears. Cultural values, that ware held for generations, are pitted against the missionary?s sermons. Although the missionaries come with the desire and intention to help the underdeveloped Ibo village reach its potential, the effects are upsetting to the native people and their culture.
Even though the missionaries bring hesitation to the tradition culture of the Ibo, they help the tribe progress in many ways. They assist in, ??[building] a trading store and for the first time palm-oil and kernel became things of great price, and much money flowed into Umuofia? (146). Economically, the Ibo villages improve, and slowly schools and hospitals are erected. Education and knowledge from the outside world becomes accessible, as well as quality of the lives of many, both spiritually and physically. The missionaries rescue and, ??welcome twins and such abomination? (130), and save them from cruel deaths. After that, the osu or outcasts also think that it is possible to be accepted into society. A new society, which saves twins from dying because of superstition from the tribes and receives outcasts with warm and loving hospitality. However, although the missionaries bring the start of advanced technology and education to Africa, their wish to improve comes with a price that greatly outweighs the good.
The strategy of the Europeans is to attack religion, the central factor that controls the lives of so many. Slowly, with that influence, they win many of the tribe?s brothers, ?and [their] clan can no longer act like one. ? (145) Anarchy reigns, when the two clans are torn apart with the superior white man?s religion overcoming traditional beliefs. Following the example of religion, the government tags along, bringing with them new rules where, ??the District Commissioner judged cases in ignorance? (143). The white men come with their new idea and the power to impose them on the Ibo. However, the white men don?t heed or understand the ways of the tribes and rethink about how their new laws and rules might affect them. So, the government is not only unfair, but they have men who, ??guarded the prison, which was full of men who had offended against the white men?s laws. Some of these prisoners had thrown away their twins and some had molested the Christians. They were beaten in the prison by the kotma and made to work every morning?? (143) Many are innocent, but are killed because of the unjust laws that the white men bring. Greatly misunderstood because of cultural differences, the people of Ibo are persecuted and left for the worst.
Lacking the solid foundation of the old religion and tradition, the Ibo tribe is helpless. The good-intentioned missionaries not only bring new religion, which they try to enforce, but they also bring with them the senseless and heartless government, which ruthlessly destroys the peaceful atmosphere in the villages. Africa will only reach its potential when everybody realizes the importance of preserving the cultural traditions.