No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe
"No Longer at Ease" is a literary masterpiece written by the renowned Nigerian novelist, Chinua Achebe. The novel is a sequel to Achebe's first novel, "Things Fall Apart," and it focuses on the life of a young Nigerian man named Obi Okonkwo. The book is an insightful commentary on the complexities of post-colonial Nigerian society and the challenges that young Nigerians face as they try to navigate their way through a corrupt and morally bankrupt system.
The novel is divided into four parts, each of which highlights different aspects of Obi's life. In the first part, we are introduced to Obi and his family. Obi is a young man who has just returned to Nigeria after completing his studies in England. Despite his education and qualifications, he finds it difficult to secure a job because of the corrupt system in Nigeria. Obi is determined to make a difference in his home country and to contribute to its development, but he is constantly thwarted by the corrupt practices of those in power.
In the second part, Obi finally gets a job as a clerk in a government office. He is initially excited about the opportunity to make a difference, but he soon realizes that the job is not what he had imagined it to be. He is constantly pressured to take bribes and engage in corrupt practices, and he finds it difficult to maintain his integrity in such an environment. Obi is forced to confront the reality of Nigerian society, where corruption is rampant and honesty is a liability.
In the third part of the novel, Obi falls in love with a young woman named Clara. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that Clara is an osu, a social outcast in Igbo tradition. Obi's mother strongly opposes their relationship, and Obi is torn between his love for Clara and his loyalty to his family. The novel explores the themes of tradition, culture, and social class, and it highlights the tension between the old ways and the new.
In the final part of the novel, Obi is arrested for accepting a bribe. His trial is a major event in the novel, and it highlights the corruption and moral decay that have become entrenched in Nigerian society. Obi is eventually found guilty and sentenced to prison, and the novel ends with his mother mourning his fate. The novel is a powerful commentary on the state of post-colonial Nigeria, and it offers a stark portrayal of the challenges that young Nigerians face as they try to navigate their way through a society that is corrupt and morally bankrupt.
In conclusion, "No Longer at Ease" is a must-read for anyone who is interested in African literature and the challenges of post-colonialism. Through the character of Obi, Achebe offers a powerful commentary on the state of Nigerian society, and he highlights the struggles that young Nigerians face as they try to make a difference in a world that is rife with corruption and moral decay. The novel is a testament to Achebe's literary genius, and it is a valuable contribution to the canon of African literature.