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?
Chinua Achebe’s novel of ‘Things Fall Apart’ is an example of a novel that narrates about the life of the native tribe of Ibo people which have their own belief since their ancestors. Karl Marx once said that ‘religion is the opium of the people’. I think I agree with the statement because the Ibo people seem to be devoted to their religion which is inherited by them from their ancestors by following all the rules and regulations and avoiding any violation of the religion rules. For example, the Ibo people throw away their born twins just because their native religion believes they will bring misfortunes. Other than that, the Ibo people also celebrate the Week of Peace and during the week, one of the rules is that they are not allowed to bring up a fight or beat people. As Okonkwo beat up his second wife Ojiugo for not being around their house compound when she supposed to cook for her husband, he have to pay penalties for breaking the law of their religion no matter position he is in. These rules that the Ibo people are following is the evidence that their religion is the ‘opium’ for them. This is because they follow all the rules without question it though some of them did. The ‘opium’, in my opinion is what is addictive and we can be restless or lost if we don’t have it. So, in this context of the Ibo people’s religion, their religion is what they need always and they feel they will be lost if they don’t have it.
Superstitious belief is something that sounds old and not modern. So, for me, it affects the development of a country. In the novel, the Ibo people believe superstitions and it is a part of their life. For example, they refer to Oracle of the Hills whenever they want to do any business such as planting yams and to cure diseases or prevent bad omens. Superstitions prevent development because the community will stuck to what they believe and they do not move on to think new things to discover other than referring to the Oracle. Other than that, development also cannot reach the community because they are afraid to change and worry that they will be doomed if they give a go for changes.
Every individual have their own belief over something. It affects them in many aspects including politically and culturally. Politically, a person can accept or make exceptions to any changes that occur in politics. If a person believes in God, then he will be able to differentiate what is good for him and for the nation. He will support how the government govern the nation as he believes that the political individuals can rule their country. Culturally, one belief does affect the aspect directly or indirectly because a person will view cultures based on his or her own opinions. For example, eunuchs is a cultural practice that require the castration of men to make them “genderless”. This kind of practice will not appear to be appealing for a person who have religion such as Christianity or Islam because such religions forbid any changes made to one’s body as the body is believed to be a gift from God.
Perfect Character A Delusion or Reality
In the novel Animal Farm, the hope for a better world remains unattainable. Even with the change of governance, the animals are eventually mistreated. How is it possible that the longing for good can turn awry when the person is in power for long?
In the case of Okonkwo, he is not painted as someone who is without fault. In fact, he is in many ways a tragic hero. Neither is he a person who is evil despite his part in killing Ikemefuna. Based on your understanding of him in the novel, reflect on the following questions:
• How has Okonkwo been a figure of inspiration and disappointment to his people?
• What are the characteristics of Okonkwo that you can find in your nation’s leader?
Okonkwo, the protagonist, has affected the plot of the story and he is an inspiration for the Ibo people as well as the bad example for people to avoid. Okonkwo’s life before he earned titles and achievements was hard where his father Unoka does not play the role of a father that provides for the family. Okonkwo did not want to be like his father and he try his luck to plant yams and he was lucky as he received seeds of yam from a man named Nwakibie. From that point on, his fate seems to be better and he finally earned titles, married to 3 wives and he also got a title of “The Roaring Flame” when he defeated Amalinze The Cat when they fought. However, as the wheel turned and his fate changed again, he began to be a bad example for the Ibo people as he accidentally killed a boy during a funeral. He and his family was casted away from their village Umuofia and went to stay in Mbanta, his mother’s village. His bad luck does not end there and he ended his life tragically when he hung himself. This has proved that he is not the hero that people admire but the tragic hero who was once admired but then ended his life as black memory.
Even though Okonkwo was a tragic hero, he still posses the quality of a leader. A leader is the person who can lead and people must follow and obey. Our Prime Minister, Dato’ Najib Razak is a good leader who also posses the same characteristics just like Okonkwo. Both of them share the leadership qualities and of them is confidence. Confidence is needed in a leader because the leader will be the one who will voice up for the people. They also share dignity as they are seen as strong and powerful even though their strength is seen in a different way by the people. This is because people see Okonkwo as powerful by his physical strength and fierceness and people see our PM as strong by his wise words and ideas that rules the people. Other than that, they also have the hard work in them that had made them who they are. Okonkwo had worked very hard to earn a place in people’s heart and same goes to our PM as he was once also start from the ground and then become the minister, upgraded to Deputy Prime Minister and finally, The Prime Minister. So, that is the qualities that I found in the nation leader that Okonkwo also posses.