A Society with Soul “As the soil, however rich it may be, cannot be productive without cultivation, so the mind without culture can never produce good fruit. ” This quote by Seneca, a Roman philosopher, says that nothing good can ever come out of the absence of culture. Throughout history, many have argued that a society stripped of its culture is a society stripped of its soul. In the novel Things Fall Apart, the Ibo people are completely taken of their culture by the white colonialists.
Despite a growing pattern of submission to new culture within the tribe, the people never truly lost their soul. The Ibo tribe was invaded by outsiders, their culture threatened with accusations on their way of life, worship, and customs, practically being forced into submission. The Ibo people may have been entirely stripped of their culture, but definitely not of their soul. Due to the colonialists attempting to assimilate the Ibo people, the tribe lost their culture but not the essence of who they are, allowing them to triumph against all odds.
The white people pushed to assimilate the Africans, especially in their religion, ultimately tearing families apart and disconnecting the tribe. Obierika even says, “The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on things that held us together and we have fallen apart,” (Achebe 152). As the British colonized the Ibo tribes in Africa, they brought with them their new religion of Christianity.
At first these new beliefs were not accepted by the Ibo people, but quickly became a major threat to their old way of life. The appeal of wealth and the flow of money into their village from British traders, in combination with support for the colonialists’ new government and judicial system, eventually attracted many Ibos to convert to Christianity. Ibo society was torn in half, with some being lured in by the British, and others staying faithful to traditional Ibo customs.
In addition, by the white missionaries seeking to convert children into their religion, there was no one to carry on the tribe’s traditions, resulting in the falling apart of the tribal system. The attempts of the colonialists to assimilate the Africans in religion caused families and the tribe to be divided. Despite these challenges, the tribe did not lose the essence of who they are and stayed true to a lot of the beliefs of their culture. The Ibo people were stripped of their culture by the colonialists, but they never lost their soul.
Amidst the invasion of the white people, the Africans still found ways to maintain their beliefs and the essence of who they were. When Okoli killed the sacred python, he clearly went against traditional Ibo customs, but at the same time, he inadvertently reinforced Ibo customs. The Ibo people always look back to their culture for guidance and believe in it regardless of outside threats. Because it is all they have ever known, the tribe maintains their peaceful ways by deciding not to drive the Christians out with acts of violence, but rather, by ostracizing them.
Soon afterwards, Okoli dies of an illness, which reaffirms the tribe’s trust in their gods. “His death showed that the gods were still able to fight their own battles,” (Achebe 141) and would rightfully punish those who went against them. It made the tribe realize that the gods were still with them, causing them to repeal the new policy of ostracism towards the converts. Furthermore, n the end, the colonialists may have ultimately drove Okonkwo to kill himself, forcing him to go against his culture, but in doing so, Okonkwo also reminded the tribe of their culture.
In taking his own life, he reasserted Ibo beliefs, one of the tribesman even saying, “It is against our custom,” (Achebe 178) when asked by the District Commissioner why the tribe could not take Okonkwo down from the tree. The tribesman went on to say, “It is an abomination for a man to take his own life,” (Achebe 78). In spite of threats to their way of life and a growing disconnection of their tribe, the Ibos remained true to their culture no matter what. In conclusion, the Ibo people never lost what made them who they were despite challenges presented by the British colonialists.
The white people’s attempt to assimilate Africans to the Christian faith resulted in the tearing apart of families, the disconnection of the tribe, and subsequently, the loss of the entire Ibo culture. Notwithstanding, the Ibo people did not lose their soul, or the essence of who they are. Regardless of accusations on their way of life and mounted submission to new culture, the Ibo people were undeterred by the threat of invaders. The Ibo tribe was a society entirely stripped of their culture that made it out on the other side not stripped of their soul.
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