Every society, whether ancient or modern, has an established system of governance through which it regulates the actions and lives of its inhabitants. Hence, when an individual or group in a given society attempts to impugn the authority of those in charge of the system, by threatening the security, harmony, and peaceful coexistence of its inhabitants, it becomes an unfailing duty of those in charge of its governance to take all necessary and adequate measures to prevent the threat and protect the people. In a literate society like the United States of America, the founding fathers established three branches of government and enshrined their respective roles in their Constitution to ensure that the people enjoy their freedoms, happiness, and security of lives and property in their homes and communities. It is a democratic system which guarantees that everyone, including the President, is ruled by the same laws of the land. On the other hand, in a non-literate, ancient African societies like those Chinua Achebe romanticized in his rural novels, Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God, readers can also find systems of governance established by Igbo religious, sociocultural, and political leaders which were based on their traditional religion, cultural norms, and ethos to regulate the actions and lives of their people. Although those societies had oral traditions, their governing authorities unquestionably had positive aspirations to produce good and effective governance like those found in literate societies. In other words, the ancient Igbo systems, however imperfect they may appear to modern readers, ostensibly worked well for the people until the arrival of the British in their land. Resultantly, the encounter between the two peoples contributed profoundly to things falling apart for the Igbo religiously, culturally, politically, and economically. Hence, for Achebe, a candid exploration of the colonial and postcolonial conflicts between the British colonial powers and the Igbo native authorities on one hand, and those between the native authorities themselves on the other, became an overarching theme of his rural novels.
For me, at any rate there is a clear need to make a statement. This is my answer to those who say that the writer should be writing about contemporary issues—about politics in 1964, about city life, about the last coup d’état. Of course, these are legitimate themes for the writer but as far as I am concerned the fundamental theme must first be disposed of. This theme—put quite simply—is that African peoples did not hear of culture for the first time from Europeans; that their societies were not mindless but frequently had a philosophy of great depth and beauty, that they had poetry and, above all, they had dignity. It is this dignity that many African people all but lost during the colonial period and it is this that they must now regain.
Another Igbo scholar who is working tirelessly to unite the Igbo in thought and reason in Nigeria and in the Diaspora is Professor Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, who currently lives in and writes from Brazil. His forward looking blog, Rethinking Africa, is dedicated to the exchange of innovative thinking on issues affecting the advancement of African peoples wherever they are. He provides rigorous and insightful analyses on the issues affecting Africans and their vision of the world
7/7/2015]. In 2014, I attended a conference in which I observed Ekwe-Ekwe make incisive, erudite, and thought-provoking arguments in defense of Africana cause in the world. Also, his book, The Biafra-Nigeria War and the Aftermath, is one of the best reads on the Nigerian civil war. The more I read his blog entries, the better I appreciate the Igbo nation and the Black World. His article “Does Arrow of God Anticipate the Igbo Genocide?” contains a complex argument that the novel “presents a highly imaginative and anticipatory insight to the turbulent trajectory of post-(European) conquest African history and politics. This insight anticipates the catastrophe of the Igbo genocide” Of course, the anticipated genocide in the novel Ekwe-Ekwe referring to in the article is the massacre of the Igbo that began during the I966 Northern riots and ended in the civil war, which we have earlier touched on in this article.
Igbo ndi oma, anyi ga adi ooo!
*****Kalu Ogbaa is a professor of English at Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven. He has published ten books and many book chapters, articles, and book reviews on Africana literary and cultural studies, including Gods, Oracles and Divination… (Africa World Press, 1992), The Gong and The Flute… (Greenwood Press, 1994), and Understanding Things Fall Apart… (Greenwood Press, 1999).