Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
"Arrow of God" by Chinua Achebe is a captivating novel that explores the themes of tradition, modernity, and the clash of cultures. Set in the 1920s in Nigeria, the book tells the story of Ezeulu, an Igbo priest who is the chief priest of the god Ulu. The novel is divided into four parts, each focusing on a particular period in Ezeulu's life.
In part one, readers are introduced to Ezeulu, a proud and powerful man who is a firm believer in the power of his god, Ulu. He is the chief priest of Umuaro, a village in Nigeria, and is respected by many in his community. Ezeulu is a leader in his own right, and he takes his role as the chief priest of Ulu very seriously. He believes that it is his duty to protect and preserve the traditional ways of his people.
In part two, the British colonial administrators arrive, and they want to impose their rule on the Igbo people. Ezeulu is initially resistant to the British and is determined to maintain the traditional ways of his people. However, he soon realizes that he cannot resist the British forever and begins to cooperate with them. Ezeulu's decision to cooperate with the British has far-reaching consequences for his people and ultimately leads to his downfall.
Part three deals with Ezeulu's conflict with his own people. He is accused of causing a famine by refusing to perform the necessary rituals to appease the gods. Ezeulu is deeply troubled by the accusations and begins to question his role as the chief priest of Ulu. He becomes increasingly isolated from his people and begins to have doubts about the power of his god. This part of the novel is particularly important as it highlights the struggle between tradition and modernity, and the impact that this struggle has on individuals.
In part four, Ezeulu's downfall is revealed. He is arrested by the British colonial authorities for refusing to cooperate with them. He is imprisoned and tortured, and eventually, he dies. His death marks the end of an era for the Igbo people. The traditional ways of life are disappearing, and the forces of modernity are taking over. This part of the novel is poignant and powerful and serves as a warning about the dangers of colonialism and the impact it can have on traditional societies.
Overall, "Arrow of God" is a masterpiece of African literature that is both thought-provoking and engaging. Achebe's writing is vivid and evocative, and he brings the world of the Igbo people to life with his descriptions of their customs, beliefs, and way of life. The novel is a must-read for anyone interested in the history and culture of Nigeria and serves as a testament to the power of storytelling.