CULTURE CONTACT AND CONFLICT A SURVEY OF THINGS FALL APART NO LONGER AT EASE AND ONE OTHER STORY
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The African people have varying behaviors, mannerisms, beliefs, thought patterns and way of interaction and all of these differences formed their culture and impacted their way of life. However, with the coming of the Europeans to Africa came cultural infiltration, pollution as well as alteration. This research analyses Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) from the perspective of culture and conflict (traditional vs. western) which is the brain child of westernization and modernization. The method of investigation is theoretical and descriptive, using the survey approach: that is looking at the actions, events, sentences and interactions of the characters in order to identify and discuss how males are portrayed, paying attention to issues of cultural realism, behaviors, actions and statements of the characters.
1.1 Background of the study
The theme of clash of culture in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) is not new as several scholars have written severally on the topic, what is however new is the treatment of Masculinity and how it affects or contributes to Culture clash in the text. The research reviews the discourse of masculinity and culture clash by gendering the two societies in focus – western culture and African Traditional culture to ascertain which is masculine and which is feminine. It looks at the traits and qualities of these two societies and compares these traits from the lens of traditional gender roles. The study x-rays culture and masculinity as a cultural and social reality visible and permissible in Igbo land of Nigeria before and during the colonial era of the Europeans as reflected in Chinua Achebe‟s novel Things Fall Apart (1958). The study of the novel, some critics believe, is the study of the society from which it emerges (Gikandi, 1987). The relationship between literature and society is a symbiotic one, and that was why Plato, several decades ago in his work, The Republic (about 370 B.C.) noted that literature is an aspect of knowledge, potent enough to influence the society. Though the subject of literature is infinite, the literary artists often represent situations that reflect our world and this is why even where “themes of literature” are derived from myth, culture, history or from contemporary situations, or even from pure inventions, such works remain „constructed from the constant materials of real experience‟ (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1046). The main purpose of this thesis is the analysis of Chinua Achebe’s books Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease and the way the author shows British colonization of Nigeria and the impact it had on Nigerian culture and people. The reason why these books have been chosen for analysis is that the main characters come from the same village and the same family. The main hero in No Longer at Ease is a direct descendant of the family of Ogbuefi Okonkwo, main characters in Things Fall Apart. In the first book, a reader follows the story of the mentioned Okonwko and his family and the village they live in, their religion, customs, culture and so on, with the coming of British colonizers at the end of the book. In the second book, there is a story of a younger generation of the Okonkwo family and villagers and there is also described the change of the way the Igbo people perceive the British colonizers and how the colonizers and the new system they had established changed the Igbos themselves. Nevertheless, Things Fall Apart is considered to be more important because it sets the story and analyses the Igbo society and subsequent clash with western society. For the purposes of the thesis, the first book is much more important because it shows the traditional and pure Igbo society before the coming of British missionaries – it is important for the analysis of how much the British colonial system influenced the pure Igbo society. In the first book, the characters are better described and the author goes much deeper and gives his readers more in-depth view on the British colonization and the way the Igbo people perceived it. The immediate moment of British coming and their initial changes which are described in detail in the book Things Fall Apart are for the purpose if the thesis crucial. The second book, No Longer at Ease, shows how much the Igbo village changed due to the colonial influence and how the village people dealt with the cultural and religion clashes. Nevertheless, for the purposes of the thesis, the second book serves as a completion in order to get a more complex picture of the culture and religion clash and the way the Igbo people dealt with it. Because of this reason, the analysis of Things Fall Apart will cover a bigger part of the thesis than No Longer at Ease.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In a contemporary world faced with the challenges of globalization one witnesses distinct cultures being forced from the outside to turn gradually into a transnational, global culture. But paradoxically, rather than necessitating to depend less on cultural difference and identities, rather than succumbing to global Sameness, previously distinct cultures suffer an anxiety about the perceived loss of identity, thus requiring the continuing construction and maintenance of identity and authenticities in order to continue to be able to assert their “selves”. In this context the pursuit of a genuine identity becomes a complicated undertaking, it is in view of this that the researcher intends to investigate culture contact and conflict
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to assess culture contact and conflict, with emphasis on a critical survey of things fall apart, but to complete the study, the researcher intend to achieve the following objective:
- To ascertain the impact of western education on Igbo culture
- To investigate the role of Chinnu Achebe’s things fall apart on the popularity of Igbo race
- To ascertain the relationship between culture and religion
- To proffer suggested solution to the identified problem
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
To aid the successful completion of the study, the following research questions were formulated by the researcher
- Is there any impact of westernization on the culture of the Igbos as stated in things fall apart?
- What is the impact of things fall apart on the culture of the Igbos?
- Is there any relationship between culture and religion?
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
it is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of importance of great importance to the department of linguistic as the study will add to available literature in the field, the study will also be helpful to student of literature as the study seek to expose the intricacy of westernization during the colonial period. Finally the findings of this study will also be immense benefit to government, academia, scholars, researchers and the general public.
The study will also be useful to researcher who intends to embark on study in similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point.
1.6 SCOPE AND DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers culture contact and conflict, a survey of things fall apart. But in the cause of the study there were some factors that limited the scope of the study;
- a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
- b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
- c) FINANCE: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.
1.7 CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION
To begin with, ethnicity is conceptualized as “the employment or mobilization of ethnic identity and difference to gain advantage in situations of competition, conflict or cooperation” (Osaghae, 1995). This definition is preferred because it identifies two issues that are central to discussions on ethnicity. The first is that ethnicity is neither natural nor accidental, but is the product of a conscious effort by social actors. The second is that ethnicity is not only manifest in conflictive or competitive relations but also in the contexts of cooperation. A corollary to the second point is that ethnic conflict manifests itself in various forms, including voting, community service and violence. Thus, it needs not always have negative consequences. Ethnicity also encompasses the behaviour of ethnic groups. Ethnic groups are groups with ascribed membership, usually but not always based on claims or myths of common history, ancestry, language, race, religion, culture and territory. While all these variables need not be present before a group is so defined, the important thing is that such a group is classified or categorised as having a common identity that distinguishes it from others. It is this classification by powerful agencies such as state, religious institutions and the intelligentsia such as local ethnic historians that objectifies the ethnic group, often setting in motion processes of selfidentification or affirmation and recognition by others (Ukiwo, 2005). Thus, ethnicity is not so much a matter of “shared traits or cultural commonalities”, but the result of the interplay between external categorization and selfidentification (Brubaker et al, 2004). Most analysts agree on the basic constitutive elements of ethnic groups but disagree on how and why they were formed, why ethnicity occurs, why it occasionally results in violent conflicts and what should be done to prevent its perverse manifestations. Also, in most cases, members of ethnic minority groups are faced with structural forms of discrimination and exclusion. Despite all these negative trends and events, however, it is not the case that the increase in ethnic diversity can be considered as a fundamental challenge for the stability and cohesion of a society. Next is cultural diversity. This is the variety of human societies or cultures in a specific region, or in the world as a whole (Wikipedia, 2007). Culture itself is usually defined in two ways: a narrow definition, which focuses on cultural products and expressions, such as traditional dance, theatre, sculptures or buildings, and a broader definition, which views culture as “the way we live”. The latter, which is applied in this paper, is allinclusive of human endeavour. Within this broad definition, military action would even be culturally-embedded. Culture is a constructed phenomenon, created through the human endeavours to transform nature and the environment in order to sustain and enrich life. As human beings are social beings, culture becomes established through particular ways of living. Culture is transferred through human interaction, from trans-generational ones (e.g. through family and ethnic group) to inter-group ones (cultural interaction). In this transferal process, culture is often adapted to new circumstances or restructured, e.g. to address new beliefs, opportunities, a crisis or a threat. As a construct, culture is continuously re-affirmed and/or redefined. The broad definition of culture tends to dominate current debates, particularly where the concept is linked with democratization processes. The result is that culture and cultural diversity have become vague terms, to be interpreted within specific contexts in order to make them useful. This need and potential for re-interpretation make the concepts vulnerable to misuse within conflict situations. Leaders interpret the concepts through their own specific historical and political perspective on relationship between competing groups. One typical use of culture in mobilization of support is in its combination with the concept of human “identity”. Cultural identity then defines people’s cultural bonding, the group to which they belong. Within mobilization tactics, cultural identity is usually portrayed as a fixed characteristic, which must be defended against “others” who are generally viewed as competing for the same resources, power or status (Kaufman, 2006). National governments tend to emphasize national identity to increase social cohesion, national consciousness and nation building. The challenge then is to make diverse cultural identities an integral part of the national one. This is particularly important in a country like Nigeria which has about 370 different ethnic groups (Alubo, 2006). Cultural identity implies freedom of association with groups, communities and ideologies which can go beyond national boundaries. People can and do have multiple identities that are complementary, e.g. ethnic, social, gender, religious, work. Research has highlighted that cultural identity and national identity can coexist. In fact, success stories of peaceful societies world-wide highlight the positive results of this coexistence. Acceptance of cultural identity within national identity prevents stifling of social relationships and promotes dynamic interactions, creativity, critical thinking and acceptance of history as a shared legacy and the future as shared aspirations (Edewor, 1993; Elbadawi and Sambanis, 2002). Suppression of cultural identity by national governments or inequity in recognition can lead to resistance, conflict and civil war. Recognition of cultural identities through proportional representation in institutional arrangements easily entrenches cultural identities and does not motivate for national integration. This may increase tensions, rather than resolve them (Kotze, 2002). This brings us to the issue of federalism. As we understand it, this is a form of government in which the component units of a political organization participate in sharing powers and functions in a cooperative manner.
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