Thursday, October 6, 2011

and in this way the cover was strengthened on the wall. Each of them carried a long cane basket.

but she went to Okonkwo's compound
but she went to Okonkwo's compound. One of them was a pathetic cry. Why should a man suffer so grievously for an offense he had committed inadvertently? But although he thought for a long time he found no answer. he took up the rag with his left hand and began to untie it. But Chielo's voice was still a long way away. He would stamp out the disquieting signs of laziness which he thought he already saw in him. Then the group drank." He went away to his hut and Ekwefi began to tend the medicine pot almost as if it was itself a sick child. It was then that the one-handed spirit came. It said that other white men were on their way."They say that Okoli killed the sacred python. The kola nut was given him to break. and they each gave him a feather. took out two leaves and began to chew them. very shyly."Where does Agbala want to see her?" Ekwefi asked. One of these days your jigida will catch fire on your waist. he fled to Aninta to escape the wrath of the earth. emerged from her hut. Abame??I know them all. But I think you ought to break it. You have committed a great evil. his mother was alive.

"That will not be enough. "people should not talk when they are eating or pepper may go down the wrong way.In the morning the market place was full. who drank a cup or two each. who drank a cup or two each.""That is very true. The first cup went to Okonkwo. She wore a black necklace which hung down in three coils just above her full.He was by nature a very lively boy and he gradually became popular in Okonkwo's household. during the last harvest season. He had been a great and fearless warrior in his time. His name was Maduka. Amalinze was the great wrestler who for seven years was unbeaten.Dusk was already approaching when their contest began."What is iyi-uwa?" she asked in return. for as soon as the first rain came farming would begin. and allowed a murmur of suppressed anger to sweep the crowd. if it lost its tail it soon grew another. And so although Okonkwo was still young."Okonkwo brought the wine and they began to drink." This was interpreted to them but very few of them heard. All the neighbors and relations who had come to mourn gathered round them. is a beast.

and girls came from the inner compound to dance. shiny pebble fell out. as if he was going to pounce on somebody. but he did not answer. the medicine itself was called agadi-nwayi." said Ogbuefi Ezeudu. When they carried him away."1 am one of them. almost to himself. boomed the hollow metal. Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood. children sat around their mother's cooking fire telling stories.Ekwefi ladled her husband's share of the pottage into a bowl and covered it. woman."It is near that orange tree. and brought back a duckling. And what is the result? An abominable religion has settled among you. They danced back to the center together and then closed in. His actions were deliberate." said Obierika. 'but tell me. When a man was afflicted with swelling in the stomach and the limbs he was not allowed to die in the house. in their due proportions.

At that moment they heard someone crying just outside their compound. who clung to her.That was many years ago. Had she been running too? How could she go so fast with Ezinma on her back? Although the night was cool. The conversation at once centered on him. and after that the dry season. There was an immediate stir." Quite often she bought beancakes and gave Ekwefi some to take home to Ezinma." replied Ekwefi. Okonkwo came next and Ekwefi followed him. Obierika and half a dozen other friends came to help and to console him.Suddenly Okagbue sprang to the surface with the agility of a leopard. The two voices disappeared into the thick darkness. Now you talk about his son. In short. Ezinma shook every tree violently with a long stick before she bent down to cut the stem and dig out the tuber."Ekwefi turned the hen over in the mortar and began to pluck the feathers. She was already beginning to doubt the wisdom of her coming. He is always in a hurry. Three young men from the victorious boy's team ran forward. and it was he who had received Okonkwo's mother twenty and ten years before when she had been brought home Irom Umuofia to be buried with her people. Would he recognize her now? She must have grown quite big. But before they left each took back the feather he had lent to Tortoise."I will come with you. Okagbue worked tirelessly and in silence." They laughed and agreed.""What has happened to that piece of land in dispute?" asked Okonkwo.

"We have men of high title and the chief priests and the elders."They want a piece of land to build their shrine. There were nine of them. she was dead. You are a great family.The young suitor." He waved his arm where most of the young men sat. The neighbors sat around watching the pit becoming deeper and deeper. "It is enough."It is very near now. and his bushy eyebrows and wide nose gave him a very severe look.He was by nature a very lively boy and he gradually became popular in Okonkwo's household. It descended on him again. "If a man comes into my hut and defecates on the floor.As they spoke two other groups of people had replaced the first before the egwugwu."Perhaps I have been away too long. and asked Okonkwo to have a word with him outside.""One of the men told me. so that he was full of food and drink and his body filled out in his shell. empty men. "They are thirty?" he asked."Bring me a low stool for Ezinma. His own hut. and then passed two shares to Nwoye and Ikemefuna."Did she ask you to feed them before she went?""Yes. On Obierika's side were his two elder brothers and Maduka. And so everybody came to see the white man.

which was part of the night. which was passed under his right arm-pit and tied above his left shoulder. This year they talked of nothing else but the nso-ani which Okonkwo had committed." said Ezinma to her mother. I have cleared a farm but have no yams to sow. and to soften his heart with a song of the suffering of the sons of men. "And so they killed the white man and tied his iron horse to their sacred tree because it looked as if it would run away to call the man's friends. white foam rose and spilled over. Her eyes went constantly from Ezinma to the boiling pot and back to Ezinma. He was in fact an outcast. reappeared every year for seven years and then disappeared for another lifetime. I greet you. Obierika's second wife followed with a pot of soup. She understood things so perfectly. I salute you." said Obierika. But in absence of work. and Ekwefi recoiled. who was laid on a mat." He paused for a long while. the priest of the earth goddess."Odukwe was short and thickset. but ill. emerged from her hut."This is Obierika. so that even when it was said that a ceremony would begin "after the midday meal" everyone understood that it would begin a long time later. At first they were afraid they might die.

So Okonkwo encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi. the medicine itself was called agadi-nwayi. "I have heard that many years ago. Although he had felt uneasy at first. Okonkwo's second wife had merely cut a few leaves off it to wrap some food. and they ran for their lives. He was afraid of being thought weak. another group with hoes and baskets to the village earth pit. to harvest cassava tubers. Her mother always took her into their bedroom and shut the door. Those who found themselves nearest to them merely moved to another seat. She did not marry him then because he was too poor to pay her bride-price. that they have strayed from their way to a land where everybody is like them?"Okonkwo's first wife soon finished her cooking and set before their guests a big meal of pounded yams and bitter-leaf soup. He could hardly imagine that Okonkwo was not his real father. But there were some too who came because they had friends in our town. Kiaga. deeply. He wanted Nwoye to grow into a tough young man capable of ruling his father's household when he was dead and gone to join the ancestors. which was shaved in beautiful patterns. this feeling.His anger thus satisfied. and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.""What did the white man say before they killed him?" asked Uchendu.Everyone was now about. and so everyone in his family listened. ran out again and aimed at her as she clambered over the dwarf wall of the barn. The old man who received him was his mother's younger brother.

He passed them over to his eldest brother. They sat in a half-moon. She broke a piece in two and gave it to Ezinma. the king of crops."For three years Ikemefuna lived in Okonkwo's household and the elders of Umuofia seemed to have forgotten about him. And they began to shoot. pulled out his staff and thrust it into the earth again. He is always in a hurry."It is very near now." said Obierika. The ancient drums of death beat.The night was impenetrably dark. When he died this morning. The first cock has crowed. He had been a great and fearless warrior in his time. carrying a basket full of water. Ekwefi then became defiant and called her next child Onwuma??"Death may please himself. But there is just one question I would like to ask him. And this was the message. But I want you to have nothing to do with it. At first the clan had assumed that it would not survive. He knew that he was a fierce fighter."Agbala do-o-o-o! Agbala ekeneo-o-o-o! Chi negbu madu ubosi ndu ya nato ya uto daluo-o-o! ??"Ekwefi could already see the hills looming in the moonlight. took her stick and walked over to the obi."The crowd roared with laughter. Two years after her marriage to Anene she could bear it no longer and she ran away to Okonkwo. my daughter.

He could not ask another man to build his own obi for him. to roast plantains for him. especially these days when young men are afraid of hard work. In the end Parrot."Take away your kola nut."But you said it was where they bury children?" asked the medicine man. beat me up and took my wife and children away. in silence. He was ill for three market weeks. It was always quiet except on moonlight nights. But they always returned to the long rope he trailed behind. Even the smell of gunpowder was swallowed in the sickly smell that now filled the air. He remembered the story she often told of the quarrel between Earth and Sky long ago.Seven years was a long time to be away from one's clan. He could hear in his mind's ear the blood-stirring and intricate rhythms of the ekwe and the udu and the ogene. It was Ekwefl's turn to tell a story. He. And so at a very early age when he was striving desperately to build a barn through share-cropping Okonkwo was also fending for his father's house.""Yes. sprang to his feet and gripped him by the neck. and it seemed now as if it was happening all over again. And she went into her hut to warm the vegetable soup she had cooked last night." Okonkwo said to himself again. Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. Each of his three wives had her own hut."For three years Ikemefuna lived in Okonkwo's household and the elders of Umuofia seemed to have forgotten about him. But even in such cases they set their limit at seven market weeks or twenty-eight days.

"Call your wife and child. As she knelt by her." They laughed and agreed. In front of them was a row of stools on which nobody sat. Evil men and all the heathen who in their blindness bowed to wood and stone were thrown into a fire that burned like palm-oil. what do I do? Do i shut my eyes? No! I take a stick and break his head That is what a man does. It was an ill omen. he was not afraid now. more fierce than it had ever been known. "honest men and thieves.""The Earth cannot punish me for obeying her messenger." said Okonkwo. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.""It is a lie. The bush was alive with the tread of feet on dry leaves and sticks and the moving aside of tree branches. Okonkwo and the two boys were working on the red outer walls of the compound. and when he died he was buried by his kind in the Evil Forest. and the little children to visit their playmates in the neighboring compounds. The yams were then staked.As soon as the day broke. She was Okonkwo's second wife Ekwefi. If we should try to drive out the white men in Umuofia we should find it easy. Let her go and stay with her people. tall. "The bell-man announced it last night. There was a famine in those days and Tortoise had not eaten a good meal for two moons. Her husband had brought out more yams than usual because the medicine man had to be fed.

The children were also decorated. Njide. He had finished it on the very day the locusts came.""Some people say the Oracle warned him that he would fall off a palm tree and kill himself. He raised it carefully with the hoe and threw it to the surface. It was like the desire for woman. vibrating heat."Their clan is now completely empty. "And so they killed the white man and tied his iron horse to their sacred tree because it looked as if it would run away to call the man's friends. It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone. nearly half a day's journey away. like a funeral. You may ask why I am saying all this. He wanted Nwoye to grow into a tough young man capable of ruling his father's household when he was dead and gone to join the ancestors." said one of the younger men. Tortoise looked down from the sky and saw his wife bringing things out. He hoped to get another four hundred yams from one of his father's friends at Isiuzo."Who taps your tall trees for you?" asked Obierika. boomed the hollow metal. A few moments later he went behind the hut and began to vomit painfully.An iron gong sounded. "But you ought to ask why the drum has not beaten to tell Umuofia of his death. Twenty. Everyone was puzzled."Tell them. "Life to you. But as he flew home his long talon pierced the leaves and the rain fell as it had never fallen before.

He lelt a relief within as the hymn poured into his parched soul.""Not before you have had your breakfast. Ikemefuna came into Okonkwo's household. who was then an ailing man. so that he was full of food and drink and his body filled out in his shell. cooking and eating." he had said. indeed. the wife who had just been beaten murmured something about guns that never shot. where he built his headquarters and from where he paid regular visits to Mr." She sat down and stretched her legs in front of her. If one says no to the other.""I pray she stays. She was saying again and again that Agbala wanted to see his daughter."Uzowulu's body. or playground. As Idigo had said. "before I kill you!" He seized a heavy stick that lay on the dwarf wall and hit him two or three savage blows. May all you took out return again tenfold. Go ahead and prepare your farm."Has Nweke married a wife?" asked Okonkwo. He searched in it for his snuff-bottle. And when he got there he found it was a man making a sacrifice." he asked. gazed at it a while and went away again??to the underworld.""But someone had to do it. "It wounds my heart to see these young men killing palm trees in the name of tapping.

as she had accepted others??with listless resignation. folded her arms across her breast and sighed."That was many years ago." Obierika replied sharply. decorating them with a colorful and plaintive tune. At first they were afraid they might die." said Akukalia.At first Ikemefuna was very much afraid. Two little groups of people stood at a respectable distance beyond the stools."What happened?" her mother asked. Okonkwo was one of them. Their hosts took him as the king of the birds. and washed away the yam heaps. Okonkwo rose to speak. tangled hair."Go home and sleep."He uncovered his second wife's dish and began to eat from it. If a gang of efulefu decided to live in the Evil Forest it was their own affair.'"None of the birds had heard of this custom but they knew that Tortoise."Where are her children? Did she take them?" he asked with unusual coolness and restraint. She was." replied her mother. He was imprisoned with all the leaders of his family. more fierce than it had ever been known. and Umuofia. She went. "I sold the big ones as soon as you left.

"But I have also heard that Abame people were weak and foolish. The eight other egwugwu were as still as statues. She had married Anene because Okonkwo was too poor then to marry." said one of the women. they said to themselves.But it was really not true that Okonkwo's palm-kernels had been cracked for him by a benevolent spirit. But it had gone on living and gradually becoming stronger. but even now they have not found the mouth with which to tell of their suffering." she said. The seven wasted and weary years were at last dragging to a close. but many of them believed that the strange faith and the white man's god would not last. Unoka loved it all."Leave her to me. Some of them did become tired of their evil rounds of birth and death. When a man blasphemes. and a great land case began."He will do great things. 'There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts. I shall pay my big debts first. if one finger brought oil it soiled the others. but every farmer knew that without sunshine the tubers would not grow. It was a sad miscalculation. That was in fact the reason why he had come to see Unoka. It was as if water had been poured on the tightened skin of a drum. living in a special area of the village. ivory spoon. He would teach her! But Nwoye resembled his grandfather.

Ezinma went deeper and deeper and the crowd went with her. the king of crops. Tortoise began to sniff aloud. The heathen say you will die if you do this or that. Another one was wailing near his right ear. and the quiet spectators murmured to themselves. Two elderly neighbors were sent for. gome. and at the end of three years he had become very distant indeed. Once she tripped up and fell. If your death was the death of nature. long ago. And what was more.Gradually the rains became lighter and less frequent. and when he got home he went straight to Okonkwo's hut and told him what he had seen. The same thought also came to Okonkwo's mind. "I dislike cold water dropping on my back."Why is Okonkwo with us today? This is not his clan. with sticks. tapped it on his kneecap. my hand has touched the ground.Okonkwo was inwardly pleased at his son's development. He was reclining on a mud bed in his hut playing on the flute. saw clearly that Okonkwo had yielded to despair and he was greatly troubled. Only the word of our God is true. I shall pay you. 'You are full of cunning and you are ungrateful.

his sixteen-year-old son." said another woman. "and we want you all to come in every seventh day to worship the true God. All the neighbors and relations who had come to mourn gathered round them. and about some effeminate men who had refused to come with them. Ezinma shook every tree violently with a long stick before she bent down to cut the stem and dig out the tuber."Go to your in-laws with a pot of wine and beg your wife to return to you. like leprosy and smallpox."Father. Nwoye's mother and Ojiugo would provide the other things like smoked fish. And there was eating and drinking till night." said the joker. The daughters of the clan did not return to their homes immediately but spent two more days with their kinsmen. And how is my daughter. Ani. Every village had its own ilo which was as old as the village itself and where all the great ceremonies and dances took place. Worshippers and those who came to seek knowledge from the god crawled on their belly through the hole and found themselves in a dark. Whenever one of these ancient men appeared in the crowd to dance unsteadily the funeral steps of the tribe.An iron gong sounded. and the meeting continued. who then unrolled the goatskin which he carried under his arm.Nneka had had four previous pregnancies and child-births.""That is why the drum has not been beaten to tell Umuofla. Kiaga's joy was very great.With a father like Unoka." he said and cleared his throat. She was used to Chielo calling her "my daughter.

It ended on the right.One day a neighbor called Okoye came in to see him. carrying a pot of palm-wine on his head. It was unheard of to beat somebody during the sacred week.""It is the result of a great medicine. fire does not burn them?" Ezinma.Okonkwo brought out his snuff-bottle and offered it to Ogbuefi Ezenwa. His name was Nwoye. holding the ancestral staff of the family. He rounded off his prayer and went to see what it was all about. self-assured and confident. They faced the elders. It was a good riddance." said Mr. It said that other white men were on their way. Dum! Dum! Dum! boomed the cannon at intervals." she answered. He was a leper. you sow your yams on exhausted farms that take no labor to clear. The man who had whispered now called out aloud. as if he was going to pounce on somebody."For the first time in three nights. He worked. "Kill one of your sons for me. "Will you go?""Yes. Okonkwo had not bought snuff from him for a long time. and then you will know.

which had been dutifully eating yam peelings." Nwoye's mother said. but offered to use his teeth. they take new names for the occasion.The first cock had not crowed. Okafo raised his right leg and swung it over his rival's head. he was already one of the greatest men of his time. her voice cracking like the angry bark of thunder in the dry season. and he prayed to the ancestors." and they argued like this for a few moments before Unoka accepted the honor of breaking the kola. "let her not sleep in her hut. Tortoise also took one. Every market day. The man who dug it up was the same Okagbue who was famous in all the clan for his knowledge in these matters." he said. years ago.Okonkwo knew she was not speaking the truth. Okonkwo would take care of meat and yams. It looked like whispering. but the fattest of all was tethered to a peg near the wall of the compound and was as big as a small cow. He looked it over and said it was done. He then installed his personal god and the symbols of his departed fathers. which were black with soot. Okonkwo was clearly cut out for great things. In his anger he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace. And he was afraid to look back. rubbed his left palm on his body to dry it before tipping a little snuff into it.

talking excitedly and praying that the locusts should camp in Umuofia for the night. Okonkwo was only a boy then and Uchendu still remembered him crying the traditional farewell: "Mother. He was quite different. Dum! Dum! Dum! boomed the cannon at intervals. Alone Nnadi is cooking and eating."Nwoye always wondered who Nnadi was and why he should live all by himself. Ekwefi was the only person in the happy company who went about with a cloud on her brow.""If we leave our gods and follow your god.These outcasts. The personal dynamism required to counter the forces of these extremes of weather would be far too great for the human frame." said Ofoedu. People made way for him on all sides and the noise subsided. Ekwefi even gave her such delicacies as eggs. who had given much money to the white man's messengers and interpreter. and stayed. but he did not know where to begin. "One of the young children had opened the gate of the cow-shed. "They want to ruin us. A bowl of pounded yams can throw him in a wrestling match. So I have brought the matter to the fathers of the clan. He warmed himself in the fire and ate the entrails. he burst out laughing. but to settle the dispute. but she went to Okonkwo's compound." said Machi." asked Obierika." said one of the cousins.

" said the joker. The man who had whispered now called out aloud. and the cannon shattered the silence. And so at a very early age when he was striving desperately to build a barn through share-cropping Okonkwo was also fending for his father's house. each carrying a pot of wine.The drum sounded again and the flute blew. the priestess of Agbala. Every woman in the neighborhood knew the sound of Nwayieke's mortar and pestle.Ekwefi peeled the yams quickly. They sang the latest song in the village:" If I hold her handShe says. He addressed Nwakibie. Then he burst out:"Never kill a man who says nothing. but its vigor was undiminished. and his relatives. sat on the floor waiting for him to finish. for he had no grave. and at the end of three years he had become very distant indeed. and the quiet spectators murmured to themselves. But although Okonkwo was a great man whose prowess was universally acknowledged. "So look after him. A woman fled as soon as an egwugwu came in sight. but they never brought them into the village. It is almost dawn." said Ezinma. "Those that hear my words are my father and my mother.Although such stories were now often told they looked like fairy-tales in Mbanta and did not as yet affect the relationship between the new church and the clan. "Welcome.

"my eyelid is twitching." said Nwoye. Guns were fired on all sides and sparks flew out as machetes clanged together in warriors' salutes."Since I survived that year. Nwoye would feign annoyance and grumble aloud about women and their troubles. He would now have to make a bigger farm. Her arms were folded across her bare breasts."Tufia-al" the priestess cursed. "So he must have a wife and all of them must have buttocks."Ekwefi. One morning three of them came to my house.But. '1 am a changed man. Okonkwo had not bought snuff from him for a long time. and what is good among one people is an abomination with others."I wish she were a boy. burning torches were set on wooden tripods and the young men raised a song. They can steal your cloth from off your waist in that market. which was only broken when a new palm frond was lifted on to the wall or when a busy hen moved dry leaves about in her ceaseless search for food. "It is enough. Okonkwo came next and Ekwefi followed him." he asked. where he built his headquarters and from where he paid regular visits to Mr.'"He began to eat and the birds grumbled angrily. They were all fully dressed as if they were going to a big clan meeting or to pay a visit to a neighboring village. Nothing wouldhappen to Ezinma. It was a different woman??the priestess of Agbala.

"Those who knew Amadi laughed. Kiaga restrained them. building a new red-earth and thatch house for their teacher. but they never brought them into the village. younger men gave way and the tumult subsided." asked another man."He took down the pot from the fire and placed it in front of the stool. The Ibo evangelists consulted among themselves and decided that the man probably meant bicycle. and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten. hung above the fireplace. one of those evil essences loosed upon the world by the potent "medicines" which the tribe had made in the distant past against its enemies but had now forgotten how to control. Everyone was puzzled. even into people's beds." he said. Okonkwo always asked his wives' relations. You yourselves took her. We must fight these men and drive them from the land. I kill a man on the day that his life is sweetest to him. that I am not afraid of blood and if anyone tells you that I am. But tonight she was addressing her prophecy and greetings to Okonkwo. With this magic fan she beckons to the market all the neighboring clans.The Feast of the New Yam was approaching and Umuofia was in a festival mood. except the old and the sick who were at home and a handful of men and women whose chi were wide awake and brought them out of that market. Ikemefuna was equally excited. If a man kills the sacred python in the secrecy of his hut. It was there that her third child was born and circumcised on the eighth day. Okonkwo.

"We are all well. and flies went with him. If we put ourselves between the god and his victim we may receive blows intended for the offender." said one of them. A razor was taboo to him. and it was his firmness that saved the young church. Nwoye's mother was very kind to him and treated him as one of her own children." Okonkwo said between mouthfuls. where the white men first came many years before and where they had built the center of their religion and trade and government. Okonkwo. the interpreter." he said to Ikemefuna. The custom here is to serve the spokesman first and the others later. Yam stood for manliness. "Every day I tell you that jigida and fire are not friends. But when she finally appeared holding a cock in her right hand. Nwoye overheard it and burst into tears. which was full of men who had offended against the white man's law." said his daughter Ezinma when she brought the food to him. carrying a wooden dish with three kola nuts and alligator pepper. The drums begin at noon but the wrestling waits until the sun begins to sink. like coco-yams. But the song spread in Umuofia. and a girl.- one could not have known where one's mouth was in the darkness of that night.- and in this way the cover was strengthened on the wall. Each of them carried a long cane basket.

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