Thursday, October 6, 2011

they all went to help Obierika's wife??Nwoye's mother with her four children and Ojiugo with her two. The palm fronds were helpless in keeping them ba

But they have cast you out like lepers
But they have cast you out like lepers. Nwoye. They can steal your cloth from off your waist in that market. the in-laws began to arrive. "All the gods you have named are not gods at all."It is here." said the convert. confident voice.The daughters of the family were all there.The crowd set out with Ezinma leading the way and Okagbue following closely behind her."Is it well?" Okonkwo asked. 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. his face beaming with blessedness and peace. and soon the children were chasing one of their cocks."On the following Sunday. The custom here is to serve the spokesman first and the others later. It is a bad custom because it always leads to a quarrel. the grown-up. Her husband had brought out more yams than usual because the medicine man had to be fed. Kiaga that he had decided to go to Umuofia where the white missionary had set up a school to teach young Christians to read and write. and it came floating on the wind." said Nwoye's mother. The moon must be preparing to rise.

" he said when Okonkwo had spoken. The pot fell and broke in the sand. He held a short staff in his hand which he brought down on the floor to emphasize his points. who were still outside the circle. her blood still ran cold whenever she remembered that night. It was a gay and airy kind of rain. "What about you? Can you answer my question?"They all shook their heads."Ekwefi. each carrying a pot of wine."Early in the afternoon the first two pots of palm-wine arrived from Obierika's in-laws. which was now surrounded by spectators.- he was full of cunning. He asked them for health and children.But.So Okonkwo encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi." He paused. which was strengthened by such little conspiracies as eating eggs in the bedroom. the messenger of earth. But they were still alive.Many years ago when Okonkwo was still a boy his father. Chielo passed by." But he was a man of commanding presence and the clansmen listened to him. I am not afraid of work.

pointing at the far wall of his hut. You. The short trees and sparse undergrowth which surrounded the men's village began to give way to giant trees and climbers which perhaps had stood from the beginning of things. "Those that hear my words are my father and my mother."And why did you not say so. its sullenness over. which children were rarely allowed to eat because such food tempted them to steal. Those who found themselves nearest to them merely moved to another seat. The Oracle said to him. They will not allow us into the markets. Her mother always took her into their bedroom and shut the door.The New Yam Festival was thus an occasion for joy throughout Umuofia. not only in his motherland but also in Umuofia. And so they killed him. Ezigbo. gome. He called his son."Umuofia kwenu!""Yaa!""Umuofia kwenu!""Yaa!"Evil Forest then thrust the pointed end of his rattling staff into the earth. "honest men and thieves. Then she suddenly turned round and began to walk back to the road. who was laid on a mat. At last Sky was moved to pity." she called.

At the end of it Okonkwo was fully convinced that the man was mad. He was in fact a coward and could not bear the sight of blood. who was now the eldest surviving member of that family. Then the crier gave his message. and drinking palm-wine copiously. The rain became lighter and lighter until it fell in slanting showers. And they began to shoot." said Okonkwo after a pause. All the grass had long been scorched brown. who laughed uneasily because. "It's true that a child belongs to its father.The first cock had not crowed. Every man can see it in his own compound. Okonkwo was. We have tried to settle their quarrels time without number and on each occasion Uzowulu was guilty??""It is a lie!" Uzowulu shouted."When this was interpreted to the men of Mbanta they broke into derisive laughter. The youngest of them was four years old. She explained to her why they should not marry yet. Nwoye's mother was very kind to him and treated him as one of her own children."And why did you not say so. when they came."You are right."At last the party arrived in the sky and their hosts were very happy to see them.

""Yes. whose eyes. and which she no doubt still told to her younger children??stories of the tortoise and his wily ways. he had stalked his victim. In her hand was the cloth pad on which the pot should have rested on her head. Then he and another man went before Ikemefuna and set a faster pace. Whenever Nwoye's mother sang this song he felt carried away to the distant scene in the sky where Vulture. let his wing break."'We know you too well.Unoka. When i say no to them they think i am hard hearted.The nine villages of Umuofia had grown out of the nine sons of the first father of the clan. As soon as Unoka understood what his friend was driving at. and then you will know. the rulers and elders of Mbanta assembled to decide on their action.The night was very quiet. Many people looked around. one of those wicked children who. Darkness held a vague terror for these people. As the evening drew near. "1 told you.""The only other person is Udenkwo. and the crowd followed her.

Tears of gratitude filled her eyes. if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings. He had discerned a clear overtone of tragedy in the crier's voice. and asking it if it had brought home any lengths of cloth. although one of them did not speak Ibo. I owe them no yams. are known in all the clan for the weakness of your machete and your hoe. not only in his motherland but also in Umuofia. What did they know about the man?" He ground his teeth again and told a story to illustrate his point.'"Parrot promised to deliver the message.Okonkwo cleared his throat and moved his feet to the beat of the drums. She was alive and well. The men brought their goatskin mats. It was indeed the shrine of a great god. "But what is good in one place is bad in another place. "The bell-man announced it last night. They sympathized with their neighbors with much shaking of the head. The two judges were already moving forward to separate them when Ikezue. As the evening drew near.""It is so indeed. "So you must finish this.But the year had gone mad. "If a man comes into my hut and defecates on the floor.

All this anthill activity was going smoothly when a sudden interruption came. shiny pebble fell out. He would be very much happier working on his farm.That was many years ago."Okonkwo thanked him again and again and went home feeling happy. "You are already a skeleton."Odukwe's body. She was the ultimate judge of morality and conduct. The villagers were so certain about the doom that awaited these men that one or two converts thought it wise to suspend their allegiance to the new faith. His death showed that the gods were still able to fight their own battles. Okoye said the next half a dozen sentences in proverbs.- that she did not blame others for their good fortune but her own evil chi who denied her any?At last Ezinma was born."He uncovered his second wife's dish and began to eat from it. I cannot live on the bank of a river and wash my hands with spittle. "Look at those lines of chalk. He was a very strong man and rarely felt fatigue. Even the very little children seemed to know. and at his death there were only three men in the whole clan who were older. He then installed his personal god and the symbols of his departed fathers.But some of the egwugwu were quite harmless. from where he had espied a fire. Here was a man whose chi said nay despite his own affirmation. I would have asked you to bring courage.

"They do not understand. What you have done will not please the Earth. facing the elders. one hen. and all were happy. Many people looked around.Umuofia was feared by all its neighbors. not for hearing. It was there that her third child was born and circumcised on the eighth day. She was the ultimate judge of morality and conduct. and they had been immediately thrown away. "But they will understand when they go to their plot of land tomorrow morning. He grew rapidly like a yam tendril in the rainy season. He was imprisoned with all the leaders of his family.Thus the men of Umuofia pursued their way. He had a bad chi or personal god."I have come to you for help."No. Uchendu ground his teeth together audibly. Ikemefuna came first with the biggest pot.Okonkwo called his three wives and told them to get things together for a great feast. It was a brief resting period between the exacting and arduous planting season and the equally exacting but light-hearted month of harvests. if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings.

After the singing the interpreter spoke about the Son of God whose name was Jesu Kristi. Fortunately. Okonkwo got ready quickly and the party set out with Ikemefuna carrying the pot of wine. The elders said locusts came once in a generation. And so the stranger had brought him. But on one point there was general agreement??the active principle in that medicine had been an old woman with one leg. I have learned that a man who makes trouble for others is also making it for himself. The story was told in Umuofia. and washed away the yam heaps. gome. who was the oldest man in the village. She could not see beyond her nose."You have not eaten for two days. We live in peace with our fellows to honor our great goddess of the earth without whose blessing our crops will not grow. Evil Forest then stood up. An oil lamp was lit and Okonkwo tasted from each bowl. just a little bigger than the round opening into a henhouse. Unoka was.""Is he well?" asked Nwoye. gome. its sullenness over. I fear for you. They scrubbed and painted the outside walls under the supervision of men.

Why. Have you not heard the song they sing when a woman dies?"'For whom is it well. It looked like whispering. They each made nine or ten trips carrying Okonkwo's yams to store in Obierika's barn. calling on her mother."Yes. A steady cloud of smoke rose from his head. without serious danger to his own health. Mosquito. It must have been a very long time. She cut the yams into small pieces and began to prepare a pottage. too old to attend Ndulue during his illness." Okonkwo said. She had borne ten children and nine of them had died in infancy. How could such a man be a follower of Christ?"He needs Christ more than you and I. It was difficult to say which the people enjoyed more. trembling. Many years ago when she was the village beauty Okonkwo had won her heart by throwing the Cat in the greatest contest within living memory." he told her. Her daughter was only ten years old but she was wiser than her years."Where did you bury your iyi-uwa?" Okagbue had asked Ezinma. Her coming was quite useless. But when he reached Tortoise's house he told his wife to bring out all the hard things in the house.

""He tapped three of my best palm trees to death." She died in her eleventh month. and brought out his snuff-bottle from the goatskin bag by his side. As the evening drew near. Many years ago when she was the village beauty Okonkwo had won her heart by throwing the Cat in the greatest contest within living memory. and they were merely her messengers. "She must have broken her waterpot. "you. It was not very long since they had returned. also carrying an oil lamp."Who killed this tree? Or are you all deaf and dumb?"As a matter of fact the tree was very much alive. Okonkwo was the greatest wrestler and warrior alive.From that day Amikwu took the young bride and she became his wife. "Those that hear my words are my father and my mother. But the one knew what the other was thinking."It was Wednesday in Holy Week and Mr.""Let us not reason like cowards. What you have done will not please the Earth. ran out again and aimed at her as she clambered over the dwarf wall of the barn.But Ekwefi did not hear these consolations. Idigo was the man who knew how to grind good snuff. long ago. One of these days your jigida will catch fire on your waist.

Nwoye's mother is already cooking."Yes. He could not ask another man to build his own obi for him. The relationship between them was not only that of mother and child."As they stood there together. and any time he passed her way he told Ear that he was still alive. And so when Okonkwo of Umuofia arrived at Mbaino as the proud and imperious emissary of war." pleaded from a reasonable distance. tears gushed from her eyes. who laughed uneasily because. as the Ibo people say. his harvest will be good or bad according to the strength of his arm."Uzowulu's body. I fear for you. Are you deaf?" Okonkwo roared at her. Okonkwo had called in another medicine man who was famous in the clan for his great knowledge about ogbanje children. but when they went away Okonkwo sat still for a very long time supporting his chin in his palms. It was therefore understood that Ekwefi would provide cassava lor the feast. Okonkwo walked behind him. They were silent for a long time. "Look at those lines of chalk. My case is finished. But it was impossible to refuse Ezinma anything.

And then the smooth."None. and what is good among one people is an abomination with others. and on their way they paid short courtesy visits to prominent men like Okonkwo." said Okonkwo. who were still outside the circle. when he slept. "My father. He picked it up." replied Ekwefi. Okonkwo. One morning three of them came to my house. Amadiora or the thunderbolt. He is an exile. You do not know what it is to speak with one voice. whom he had thrown away. Amadiora or the thunderbolt." He got up painfully." said Okonkwo. He died of the swelling which was an abomination to the earth goddess. "Okoli told me himself that it was false. She was called Crystal of Beauty. was called a flaming fire.

he took up the rag with his left hand and began to untie it.""It is the result of a great medicine. She would die with her. he said to Okonkwo:"That boy calls you father. I sacrifice a cock to Ani.In this way Akuke's bride-price was finally settled at twenty bags of cowries. There was no question of killing a missionary here. He had cracked them himself. her wrath was loosed on all the land and not just on the offender. His mother's kinsmen had been very kind to him. A man could not rise beyond the destiny of his chi. feeling with her palm the wet. which had been dutifully eating yam peelings.Okonkwo did as the priest said.Okonkwo's wives. There were also pots of yam pottage. brought in a pot of sweet wine tapped from the raffia palm. The lad's name was Ikemefuna." said the old man. We have heard stories about white men who made the powerful guns and the strong drinks and took slaves away across the seas. An evil forest was. In the other group were her husband."At that moment Obierika's son.

"I have heard that many years ago. He was called the Cat because his back would never touch the earth. There must have been about ten thousand men there. They saw the iron horse and went away again. but he did not answer. He was merely led into greater complexities. There was a light wind blowing. or osu." he said. her left palm closed on her fish and her eyes gleaming with tears. led out the giant goat from the inner compound. All the grass had long been scorched brown. People made way for him on all sides and the noise subsided." He waved at his sons and daughters. The children made endless trips to the stream." Okonkwo threatened. They scrubbed and painted the outside walls under the supervision of men. The bride-price had been paid and all but the last ceremony had been performed. They danced back to the center together and then closed in. as her mother had been called in her youth.' said Mother Kite to her daughter." she said. shook hands with Okonkwo and went into the compound.

Of his three wives Ekwefi was the only one who would have the audacity to bang on his door. and the planting began. guns and cannon were fired. But there is just one question I would like to ask him. Ani played a greater part in the life of the people than any other diety. and no longer rebuked him or beat him. closed hut like tongues of fire. But before he could answer.The drums beat and the flutes sang and the spectators held their breath. He could not ask another man to build his own obi for him. But everybody knew that he was going to die and Aneto got his belongings together in readiness to flee. Surely the earth goddess would not visit the sins of the missionaries on the innocent villagers?But on one occasion the missionaries had tried to over step the bounds. Everybody knew she was an ogbanje. Before the day was over he was dead. calling him "Our father. and so they made them that offer which nobody in his right senses would accept. could not shelter under his roof. How then could he have begotten a son like Nwoye. She was nine then and was just recovering from a serious illness. occasionally feeling with her palm the wet. His name was Nwakibie and he had taken the highest but one title which a man could take in the clan. and Ekwefi asked Nwoye's mother and Ojiugo to explain to Obierika's wife that she would be late. What would she do when they got to the cave? She would not dare to enter.

"The body of Odukwe. The priestess bent down on one knee and Ezinma climbed on her back. He brought out a sharp razor from the goatskin bag slung from his left shoulder and began to mutilate the child. The musicians with their wood." Ezinma said. the feasting and fellowship of the first day or the wrestling Contest of the second. Okonkwo stood by the pit."Ekwefi went to bring the pot and Okonkwo selected the best from his bundle. what do we do? Do we go and stop his mouth? No. One of them was so old and infirm that he leaned heavily on a stick." he said sadly. ignorant of the love of God. "I must thank my mother's kinsmen before I go.One day a neighbor called Okoye came in to see him. and sometimes two rainbows. among the missionaries in Umuofia. guttural and awesome." she answered simply. the suitor. After that nothing happened for a long time between the church and the clan." The man who had contradicted him had no titles.Sometimes a man came to consult the spirit of his dead father or relative. After such treatment it would think twice before coming again.

the people of the sky set before their guests the most delectable dishes Tortoise had even seen or dreamed of. setting up a wave of expectation in the crowd."That is not strange. One man tied his cloth to a tree branch and hanged himself."After the kola nut had been eaten Okonkwo brought his palm- wine from the corner of the hut where it had been placed and stood it in the center of the group. talking was the next best. Then he remembered that he had not taken out his snuff-spoon. And what was more. He dared not go too near the missionaries for fear of his father. And. It looked like whispering."The two men sat in silence for a long while afterwards. Where is my daughter. using some of the chicken. All was silent. and he was grateful. But Chielo's voice was still a long way away. touching the earth."He does not know that either. She buried her face in her lap and waited." Okonkwo asked himself. nearly half a day's journey away. Kiaga had asked the women to bring red earth and white chalk and water to scrub the church for Easter.

The barn was built against one end of the red walls. Then it occurred to her that they could not have been heading for the cave."At last the hen was plucked clean. and allowed a murmur of suppressed anger to sweep the crowd. She greeted her god in a multitude of names??the owner of the future. Groups of four or five men sat round with a pot in their midst. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The white man is very clever." lied Nwoye's mother. nine of the greatest masked spirits in the clan came out together it was a terrifying spectacle. They sang his praise and the young women clapped their hands:"Who will wrestle for our village?Okafo will wrestle for our village. He continued:"During the last planting season a white man had appeared in their clan. that man was okonkwo. whom she called her daughter. Why do the nations rage and the peoples imagine a vain thing? He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh."I did not know it was you.Onwumbiko was not given proper burial when he died. He still had the eight hundred from Nwakibie and the four hundred from his father's friend."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. Darkness was around the corner. Ogbuefi Idigo was talking about the palm-wine tapper." said Obierika." said Obierika. On her arms were red and yellow bangles.

" replied the white man."Ekwefi came out from her hut carrying her oil lamp in her left hand. But Ekwefi and Ezinma had heard the noise and run out to see what it was. Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too. "As our people say."Why is Okonkwo with us today? This is not his clan. and each party brought with them a huge pot of palm-wine. But let us ostracize these men. She started to cry. and about some effeminate men who had refused to come with them. Okonkwo's wives had scrubbed the walls and the huts with red earth until they reflected light."Take away your kola nut. Nwoye's mind had gone immediately to Nwayieke. Uchendu. and the rest went back. Everyone was puzzled. We have albinos among us. Once upon a time there was a great famine in the land of animals. the white missionary. But everybody knew that he was going to die and Aneto got his belongings together in readiness to flee. Kiaga restrained them. Every child loved the harvest season. but she was held down.

Children no longer stayed indoors but ran about singing:"The rain is falling. which was shaved in beautiful patterns. The other wives drank in the same way. He would be very much happier working on his farm. "I shall carry you on my back. the Evil Forest was a fit home for such undesirable people. "It pleases me to see a young man like you these days when our youth has gone so soft. Okonkwo wanted his son to be a great farmer and a great man. In the end the fearless ones went near and even touched him. The drums rose to a frenzy. Why should I? But the Oracle did not ask me to carry out its decision. may Agbala shave your head with a blunt razor! May he twist your neck until you see your heels!"Ekwefi stood rooted to the spot. He heard the voice of singing and although it came from a handful of men it was loud and confident. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so. You. It was unbelievable.The year that Okonkwo took eight hundred seed-yams from Nwakibie was the worst year in living memory. Okonkwo's gun had exploded and a piece of iron had pierced the boy's heart. They did not really want them near to the clan. Kiaga. occasionally feeling with her palm the wet. If the clan had disobeyed the Oracle they would surely have been beaten. Chielo.

"There is one important thing which we must not forget.Unoka. Their fathers had never dared to stand before our ancestors. Stories about these strange men had grown sim one of them had been killed in Abame and his iron horse tied to the sacred silk-cotton tree.""Yes" said Obierika. and then you will know. a long and thin strip of cloth wound round the waist like a belt and then passed between the legs to be fastened to the belt behind. She did not marry him then because he was too poor to pay her bride-price. And so he feigned that he no longer cared for women's stories.The footway had now become a narrow line in the heart of the forest. Those who were big enough to carry even a few yams in a tiny basket went with grown-ups to the farm. his half-sister. Beyond that limit no man was suffered to go. and the women had formed themselves into three groups for this purpose. Nwoye. But when she finally appeared holding a cock in her right hand.' said Mother Kite to her daughter. He had been a great and fearless warrior in his time. But they soon returned and everyone was gazing at the rag from a reasonable distance. no matter how heavily the family ate or how many friends and relatives they invited from neighboring villages. But you were a fearless warrior. and its priests and medicine men were feared in all the surrounding country. Then he poured out for the others.

It was the dead man's sixteen-year-old son. though his dialect was different and harsh to the enrs of Mbanta. and each wife built a small attachment to her hut for the hens. Every man and woman came out to see the white man. and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten. But if you allow sorrow to weigh you down and kill you they will all die in exile. In fact.Okonkwo remembered that tragic year with a cold shiver throughout the rest of his life. "You are already a skeleton."Where does Agbala want to see her?" Ekwefi asked. His enemies said his good fortune had gone to his head." said another man.""But he had no wings. And so everybody came to see the white man.The world was silent except for the shrill cry of insects." lied Nwoye's mother. They just pulled the stump. and any time he passed her way he told Ear that he was still alive.Then the missionaries burst into song.Ekwefi peeled the yams quickly." said Obierika." And so they all went to help Obierika's wife??Nwoye's mother with her four children and Ojiugo with her two. The palm fronds were helpless in keeping them back.

No comments: