Chinua Achebe has penned the book "Things Fall Apart" as retaliation against the Western books portraying African cultures and tribal religions as brutal, savage and animalistic. He attempts to portray through his book that the people of the African Igbo tribe are not savages or mindless tribals, they are a people with a history and a culture and a well thought out way of life. He also tries to give a realistic portrayal of the Igbo tribe`s traditions, festivals, social hierarchy and religious activities, along with the effect of Imperialism on the tribe and its people, with special reference to the hero of the book, Okonkwo, drawing a parallel between his fall and the tribe`s fall in the face of colonialism.
CUSTOMS OF THE VILLAGE OF UMUOFIA:
The tribe`s important actions, such as going to war and the like, are always subject to the decision of the tribe`s "Oracle of the Hills and the Caves", a woman thought to be in constant commune with the spirits. The Oracle is a woman named Chielo a widow with two wives, but who has the title of " Priestess of Agbala", who was the Oracle, and was perceived as a completely different person when the spirit of the earth goddess entered her. Although Achebe does not depict any supernatural occurrences, there are certain predictions of the Oracles that he depicts as uncanny. An example of this would be the way the Oracle of Abame village predicted how the white man would go about his conquest, though she had no knowledge of their methods. Another example is that of the healing of Ezinma after her mysterious visit to the Oracle`s cave.
Ezinma`s iyi-uwa is a good example of the Igbo`s religious beliefs. Ezinma was presumed to be sickly because her mother had given birth to what the Igbo called an ogbanje, a wicked child who, after dying, returned to its mother`s womb to be reborn and die again. Her iyi-uwa is her link to the world of the ogbanje, and if found, will ensure that she does not die again. The tribe`s medicine man, Okagbue, performs a religious ritual to find Ezinma`s iyi-uwa.
Another ritual is that of the festival of the earth goddess. Nine men of the egwegwu cult impersonate the nine founders of their nine-village cluster. During the ceremony the Igbo believe that the spirits of those founders manifest themselves in the egwegwu.
The Igbo also believe that, according to their religion, twins are evil; hence they are abandoned in the " Evil Forest" to die. They also believe that deeds such as the slaying of one`s kin, the killing of sacred animals such as the python (emanation of the god of water), the unmasking of the...