Sunday, 28 April 2013


Religions and superstitions

Karl Marx once commented that 'religion is the opium of the people'. Do you agree with him? In the case of Umuofia, do you think their native religion stunts their development? Is the 'new' religion seen as a way of bringing development to Umuofia?

Apart from religion, superstitions play an important part in the Ibo culture. Do you have your own sets of superstitions which you find difficult to discard?

The following points can help you as you write your reflective post on the role of religion and superstition in the novel and in your life:

• Analyse how superstitions and religions play in the life described in the novel.

• Do superstitious beliefs and religion affect the development of a country? How?

• How does one's beliefs affect the nation in terms of politics and culture?

‘Religion is the opium of the people’ is a quote from Karl Max. In a way, this quote proves to be right but has a huge difference in the reality of religion itself. Opium gets you addicted but also with huge repercussions. Religion gives you satisfaction without the repercussions. Why do I say so? This is because even though people with faith might face with challenges, suffering and other obstacles, these aren’t repercussions but tests. Religion is like the many doors on a floor, with a couple of room reserves for doubt. Doubt is useful because you will not know the strength of your own faith until you are tested. In the case of Things Fall apart by Chinua Achebe, the Umofian native religion does stunt their development. This is because some of the beliefs in their religion are a bit extreme. For example, the sacrificing of twins. This ritual of faith is inappropriate as these twins might someday become useful human resources or better, to be respectable men in the Umofian society. Their religion in a way makes them conservative and does not open to the society outside of their own. The man's way of life by oppressing women is one of the things that also reflects their ignorance against the well-being of their women. If we look closely, the women play a huge role in their society despite being treated the way they are. When the ‘new’ religion came, development all around Umofia spurs. Even though the reluctancy can be seen by some of the men in the Umofian society, but they did not prevent these developments because deep inside, the things that weren’t there at first were the things that they actually needed. The trading system for example. Before the missionaries came, there wasn’t any organized structural economic system. Furthermore, the additional infrastructure that developed by the missionaries eases some of the aspects of life of the Umofian society. Back to religion and superstitious, my own culture doesn’t actually have one or I might not remember it but there is one saying by my culture that shows how beliefs could be harmful towards my own culture. “Biar mati anak, jangan mati adat”, is this saying and it emphasizes more on protecting my own tradition than protecting the people that I love. This is absurd to me because at some point, tradition isn’t the thing that we hold dear, but families are. There is a fine line where we can uphold our tradition but not to the extend that we sacrifice the importance of family ties.

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DarreLahung Rangers

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