The Role of Religion in the Downfall of Umuofia

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Umuofia believed in a polytheistic religion, which may have been a great contribution to their downfall. Polytheistic is a type of religion in which the people believe there are many gods. The people of the tribe feared their gods and believed they could be punished by them. The Umuofians often thought of their god as being violent. In the Ibo religion, the followers use icons to worship in place of their gods because they believe that the icons they use are messengers sent from the gods and that they are kind of like the head of the church on earth. This polytheistic religion and Christianity are very different and when people tried to convert the Umuofians they quickly refused and that was when things fell apart.

Christianity was growing around the same time as the Umuofia tribe. During this period, many people were converting to Christianity and some polytheistic religions were ending. In Things Fall Apart, we read that Mr. Brown comes to the Umuofia tribe to try to convert them as well. Mr. Brown was a white missionary and had earned the clans trust and becoming friends with some of them. On page 179, Mr. Brown says to Akunna in conversation, “There are no other gods. Chukwu is the only god and all others are false. You carve a piece of wood- like that one,” (he pointed at one of the rafters from which Akunna’s carved Ikenga hung), “and call it a god. But it is still a piece of wood.”

Though Mr. Brown thought he was doing the right thing, his visits to Umuofia may have caused its downfall. While Okonkwo was on exile, the clan had undergone such a change that it was hardly recognizable by the time of his return. Okonkwo was very upset because he could see the clan breaking and falling apart.
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