This quote, in Chapter 1, from the narrator’s describing, is about Unoka calmly interacting with someone he owed money to, refers to the highly refined art of rhetoric practiced by the Igbo: “Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.” This rhetorical formalness offers a look into the many misunderstandings that take place between the Igbo and the European imperialists. The Igbo value a faithfulness to their cultural traditions, which includes certain patterns of dialogue that are considered disorganized and unsystematic by Western standards. The metaphor of words as food is exceedingly appropriate, given the almost entirely agricultural nature of the Igbo society. They compare their high value for food as the sustenance of life, to words, the sustenance of interaction and the overall sense community and brotherhood.
In chapter seven, the author depicts the arrival of the imperialists, using highly allegorical terms:
“And at last the locusts did descend. The...
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...ad of their peace. Furthermore, the impression of “pacification” or appeasement in the first place is naturally offensive as it gives a condescending misconception of the natives as no more than helpless infants. Similarly, the label “primitive” comes across as a belittling insult that replicates the commissioner’s obliviousness about the Igbo and their highly formalized and complexly ritualized way of life. Just the assertion that the commissioner has come up with a title for the book “after much thought” emphasizes the fact that the level of attention he has paid to his own thoughts and insights well surpasses the amount paid to the actual field of study. This is due to his imperialistic views towards the African tribes and clans. The story, as you can see, has many deep quotations about imperialism and Chinua Achebe’s anti imperialistic stance on those views.
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