Misunderstanding Religion and Culture

Topics: Chinua Achebe, Igbo people, Things Fall Apart Pages: 6 (2547 words) Published: March 16, 2014

Misunderstanding Religion and Culture

Religion, whether directly or indirectly has always played in important role in societies all over the world especially during a time when colonization was taking place in different parts of the world. In the nineteenth century, a new stage of Western expansion into Asia and Africa began. Colonialism in Asia, and Africa displayed many similarities but also some differences by different countries. Then there was the ‘‘missionary factor,’’ where European missionary interests petitioned with their governments to help their efforts in converting the African population to Christianity .The concept of social Darwinism convinced many that it was in the wellbeing of the African people to be introduced to the benefits of Western civilization. By bringing Western democracy and Christianity to the isolated societies of Africa and Asia, the colonial powers believed they were allowing primitive peoples to adjust to the challenges of the modern world. “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, is about the rise and falls of Okonkwo, a leader of the Umuofia clan and is highly respected man in his village. The novel tells the story of his family and personal history, and the customs and society of the Ibo tribe set in pre-colonial Nigeria during the late 19th century. A major turning point of the story is the arrival of the Christian missionaries, who take over the surrounding villages of the Ibo tribe, by setting up a church and proceed to convert the tribesmen to Christianity. We learn how British colonialism and Christian missionaries have a major influence on Okonkwo, the Ibo tribe and their lives and their way of living. We are first introduced to the Christian missionaries when they come to the village of Umuofia. By then, the missionaries have settled in the village by building churches, converting several of the villagers and have even sent several evangelists to surrounding villages. Obierika runs into Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son, who he sees him with other Christian missionaries and has learned that he has converted into one of them. That is when Obierika decides to pay Okonkwo a visit to find out more but learns that Okonkwo has disowned Nwoye and does not want to speak about him but does find out some of the story from Nwoye’s mother. Six missionaries, led by a white man, have first travel to Mbanta, and their arrival has caused a stir among the villagers after hearing stories about these strange men. The appearance of the white man should have concerned the people Mbanta because of what happened at Abame, but they accepted him without any hostility and were curious as to what he had to say. The white man used an interpreter to preach to them about Christianity, everyone being brothers and sons of God and that they should worship the true god, not their false gods, who are made of wood and stone. The white man also spoke about Jesu Kristi, the Son of God. Many of them laugh and left after the interpreter asserts that Umuofia’s gods were not capable of doing any harm. Though some of the villagers are quite intrigued with this religion, they do not have the desire to change their religion, Okonkwo thinks that the missionaries must be crazy, but Nwoye is instantly captivated. As soon as the church is settled in the villages and they start having numerous of villagers come around and convert they begin to make contributions thought the introduction of western education and democracy. The missionaries have a school built in the villages. They purpose of a the school is, according to the head missionary, is to start educating the children and even the adults on reading and writing in order to be ahead of the others when the British come and impose their western ways. They have also built a small hospital for the people of Umuofia as a way to get in to their good graces, but not everything that is put in place for the good of the Ibo tribe. The church has grown in power and the white men subject...
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