Era Of Imperialism On Native Africans

1033 words - 5 pages

Fearing the possibility of following in his father’s lazy and cowardly footsteps, Okonkwo pushed himself to grow and prosper into a wealthy, hard working warrior, and farmer to provide for not only himself, but his family as well. He believed that the only way to stay prosperous, focused, and dedicated on all he has worked for was to avoid affection and emotions for those around him; he refused to look weak to others. Okonkwo commits murder and is forced to live in exile for seven years. During this time, many changes take place in his village of Umuofia: the white men come, missionaries spread new faith, and everything is becoming modernized, forcing the idea of tradition out of the picture of the future. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe infiltrates the roles of men and women, language, religious, and cultural changes into the Nigerian village, Umuofia, where Okonkwo resides. This novel is a vivid portrait of Western Imperialism and the clash between the European colonial government and the native Africans of Nigeria in the early 19th century.
The roles of men and women were extremely precise during this time of life; women did not have control of much, nor did they have the ability to stand up for themselves the way women do today. They were ordered around and inferior to the men in their culture, especially their husbands. Women of the Ibo culture were very domesticated and stayed in the household realm to cater to their men and families. The tradition of marriage in the Ibo culture is not what today’s society is accustomed. The practice of polygamy was normative; men would often have more than one wife, but it was against culture for women to be married to more than one man. Roles among men and women were a double standard where today they are mostly equalized. In the novel, these characteristics of the culture were extremely reflected: Okonkwo has three wives, all who live in different huts on his compound. There, they live on their own with their children and cook for Okonkwo. They are simply seen as subjects to him and because he does not show affection, they are victims of his anger lash-outs (Achebe). Women were subjects of ownership to the men in the Ibo culture.
In part two of the novel, Okonkwo was exiled and was forced to stay with his mother’s kinsmen in Mbanta. During this time, white Christian missionaries show up in his village of Umuofia to build, convert, and control the people (Achebe). This reflected the religious, cultural, and language changes of the imperialism era of the 19th century. The white missionaries were building on their beliefs, were on a race to expand and essentially, came in to destroy the harmony of the Ibo people in Umuofia to force the English system of government down their throats. “…the white man had not only brought a religion but also a government…” (Achebe). Even though the people of Umuofia were tightly unified, the white missionaries had the ability to convert those who had some type of personal...

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