Reading this book has just reinforced my dislike for Conrad's Heart of Darkness. This is a beautifully written novel describing the introduction of Europeans and Christian missionaries to the Igbo clans in Nigeria. The story focuses on the life of one man, Okonkwo, a man of fear and anger who can not seem to break himself from the emotional bonds of being the son of a "lazy" man, despite gaining respect and status in his clan for his personal achievements. Achebe does an amazing job of writing in in a style that uses Western linguistic models insterspersed with proverbs, fables, and tales that portray the oral storytelling traditions of the Igbo people.
Some pretty cool, and thought-proviking proverbs and quotes from the book:
-"Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten." (p.7)
-"Those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble." (p.26)
-"There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts." (p.140)
-"It seemed as if the very soul of the tribe wept for a great evil that was coming-its own death." (p.187)
And finally, the mention of the moon-play at the time of the full moon brought back some wonderful memories of my refugee friends in Australia. A Nigerian bloke started up a full-moon tradition in which we all gathered together around a bon-fire, under the full moon, sharing creative stories, and listening to the drums. It was a tradition he brought with him from his country, in which it was a joy to share. I was happy to see a similar tradition mentioned in the book, and could see, hear, and smell exactly what Achebe was describing.