Dead Men's Path by Chinua Achebe
Dead Man's Path is a short story that was written by Chinua Achebe, an African writer whose stories reflect on African culture and its traditions. This particular piece by Achebe was written in 1953 and was featured in Girls at War, which is a collection of his short stories. This story is about a young man who becomes headmaster of an African school and, by stories end, learns an important lesson when he ignores the local traditions of the school's village. Upon taking over the school as headmaster, Michael Obi and his young wife decide to transform the look of the outer compound, in an attempt to show the people of the village how a school should ultimately be run. The young couple plant flowers and shrubs, ultimately transforming the schools look into a place of beauty. Unknowingly, they plant their new garden along a ritualistic path that runs across the school compound. The path is one that has been used by the natives for generations. It was a path that connected the living with the dead, and was involved in rituals that welcomed the newly born. Even after being warned by one of the teachers, he ignored the warning and closed off part of the path that ran through the school with posts and barbed wire. A few days later, he was visited by the village priest who was upset because of the closing of their ancestral footpath. He told Mr. Obi the importance of the path in relationship to the village's cultural and spiritual beliefs. Michael still refused to allow them to use their path and then went on to say that the purpose of the school was to change their beliefs because of how silly they are. Throughout the story, Michael showed a lack of respect for their beliefs. It became obvious at several parts in the story that not only didn't he care about the villages cultural traditions, he also showed that he cared more about himself than the people that he was trying to change. Achebe did a great job in...
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