This study aims to examine the socio semantic examination of cultural conflict in Chinu Achebe “No Longer at Ease” explores the decadence of modern urban environment which is contrasted with the idea of rural piety and stability. The study provides an analysis of various instances which point to this opposition and renders Achebe’s position of siding with tradition and even manifesting nostalgia for the past. The conclusion is that the novel can be seen as a display of the conflict between the desire to retain traditional values and the recognition that change and assimilation are absolutely necessary for survival.
1.1 Background of the study
Modern African literature of 1950 and 1960 was born in hostile milieu of conquest and struggle for freedom and assertion of the African identity, for the aim of colonization “was not merely to dominate and exploit the African. It was to deny his very existence as a thinking individual, as member of community and as creator of the most essential and cultural human thinking.” Moreover, “The colonial system reduced the kind of education which nurtured subservience, self-hatred, mutual suspicion. It produced people uprooted from the masses.” In this hostile atmosphere of cultural conflicts recent African literature came into existence. The colonial impact has produced indelible on its development and growth. No Longer at Ease (1958) by Chinua Achebe won the Nigerian National Trophy for Literature, which relates the story of a Nigerian man named Obi Okonkwo who struggles with cultural identity and loyalty. It deals with the issues like nationalism, colonialism, conflict and self-identity. The novel focuses on a young man’s life and his lost connection with African roots. Throughout the novel, the author shares many themes of conflict and struggle. The struggle extends from Obi’s personal perceptions of what is right and wrong, but also addresses the conflict that exists within the country of Nigeria. The novel is set in modern Nigeria, in the days immediately before Independence. It has its hero Obi Okonkwo, the grandson of Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart (1958). If we say the novel Things Fall Apart (1958) is a structure of ironies, then No Longer at Ease (1960) is a structure of ‘ambiguities’. The title of the novel is taken from the selection of verses by T.S. Eliot’s poem The Journey of the Magi (1927) which is narrated in the perspective of the Magi, the narrator who goes away to find the peace but comes to the conclusion that the home is the worse place and losses his faith about old religion, his people and the things make him alien and he wishes for the death. The epigraph is as follows; “We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods, I should be glad of another death,” (Eliot, 1927: Verses 40-43). The protagonist Obi spends time both in his native country and in Europe. He grows up in native Nigeria, a country that has witnessed the spread of colonialism and mingled those traditions with the traditions of native people’s living in Nigeria. T. S. Eliot’s idea to explain ‘But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation’ is similar to the protagonist Obi Okonkwo in the novel. When he is caught between the two cultures and finds no security and solace in his own community and ethical values. In the journey from his village Umuofia to England, where he experiences an intellectual and cultural birth that is more like death. When he returns to his country, Nigeria, he feels culturally dislocated. He is ‘no longer at ease’ among his countrymen, with their religion and their way of life. It records Obi’s professional, social and moral decline after returning from England to Nigeria. Hence the conflicts of cultures were irrevocably inherent in the composition of African novels, and almost as inevitably an element of their content. J. P. Makouta Mboukou has stated that “Black literature is first of all, literature of combat. The writer throws himself into demands for retribution: the rights Black people have been de rived of by foreign domination must be recovered, Black people’s place among the other people of the world must be demanded.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
No Longer at Ease (1960) portrays the third world in a unique perspective. The author writing the novel dealt with much conflict in his life, and this conflict of identity, country and nationalism is shared through the eyes of the main character, Obi Okonkwo. The main action begins with Obi’s return from England where he completes his B.A. degree. He is determined to rid his country of corruption and to create a new and better nation. On the other hand, Obi’s affair with Clara, a nurse whom he meets on the boat returning them to Nigeria and with whom he falls in love this constitute a major problem as there is a clash of interest and ideology. Clara is an osu, a descendent of slaves within the Igbo community and she, according to the tradition, must live apart from the free-born. As it is often said that “law is easy to up hold until it affect your love one”, as this pose a great challenge to Obi. It is against this backdrop that the researcher intend to examine the socio semantic effect of cultural conflict in no longer at ease.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to examine the socio semantic analysis of cultural conflict in no longer at ease. But to aid the completion of the study is the researcher intend to achieve the following specific objective:
i) To examine the effect of European education on Obi’s ideology of African culture
ii) To examine if there is any significant relationship between western education and loss of native values of Nigerian people.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
The following research questions were formulated by the researcher to aid the completion of the study;
i) Is there any significant relationship between western education and loss of native values of Nigerian people?
ii) Does European education have any effect on Obi’s ideology of African culture?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the department of linguistic as the study will serve as educational material to the student of the department. The study will also be of importance to researchers who intend to embark on a study in a study in a similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point to further research. The study will also be of great importance to academia’s researchers, students, teachers and the general public as the study will add to the pool of existing literature on the subject matter and also contribute to knowledge on the subject matter.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers the socio semantic analysis of cultural conflict in no longer at ease. But in the cause of the study there are 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: Limited Access to required finance was a major constrain to the scope of the study.
1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS OF TERMS
Semantics is the linguistic and philosophical study of meaning, in language, programming languages, formal logics, and semiotics
Culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies.
A conflict is a clash of interest. The basis of conflict may vary but, it is always a part of society. Basis of conflict- personal, racial, class, caste, political and international. Conflict in groups often follows a specific course
Cultural conflict is a type of conflict that occurs when different cultural values and beliefs clash. It has been used to explain violence and crime.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows
Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study