Arrow of God
by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God Competition Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The long uproar that followed was largely of approbation. Nwaka had totally destroyed Ezeulu's speech. The last glancing blow which killed it was the hint that the Chief Priest's mother had been a daughter of Okperi. The assembly broke up into numerous little groups of people talking to those who sat nearest to them. One man said that Ezeulu had forgotten whether it was his father or his mother who told him about the farmland. Speaker after speaker rose and spoke to the assembly until it was clear that all the six villages stood behind Nwaka. Ezeulu was not the only man of Umuaro whose mother had come from Okperi. But none of the others dared go to his support. (2.19)
For the first time, we see the animosity between Nwaka and Ezeulu as they compete for the people's loyalty. Nwaka appears to have won the first round as the people consider going to war against Okperi.
"But what have we seen here today? We have seen people speak because they are afraid to be called cowards. Others have spoken the way they spoke because they are hungry for war. Let us leave all that aside. If in truth the farmland is ours, Ulu will fight on our side. But if it is not we shall know soon enough." (1.27)
The men of Umuaro want to go to war with a neighboring village, Okperi, over a piece of land in dispute. Ezeulu cautions the men not to seek war unless they know it is righteous and just. Ulu, their deity, will only fight on their side if theirs is a just cause. Otherwise, he will let them fall.
In the five years since the white man broke the guns of Umuaro the enmity between Ezeulu and Nwaka of Umunneora grew and grew until they were at the point which Umuaro people called kill and take the head. As was to be expected this enmity spread through their two villages and before long there were several stories of poisoning. From then on few people from the one village would touch palm wine or kolanut which had passed through the hands of a man from the other.
Nwaka was known for speaking his mind; he never paused to bite his words. But many people trembled for him that night in his compound when he had all but threatened Ulu by reminding him of the fate of another deity that failed his people. It was true that the people of Aninta burnt one of their deity and drove away his priest. But it did not follow that Ulu would also allow himself to be bullied and disgraced. Perhaps Nwaka counted on the protection of the personal god of his village.
Nwaka's drummer and praise-singer was none other than the priest of Idemili, the personal deity of Umunneora. This man, Ezidemili, was Nwaka's great friend and mentor. It was he who fortified Nwaka and sent him forward. For a long time no one knew this. There were few things happening in Umuaro which Ezeulu did not know. He knew that the priest of Idemili and Ogwugwu and Eru and Udo had never been happy with their secondary role since the villages got together and made Ulu and put him over the older deities. But he would not have thought that one of them would go so far as to set someone to challenge Ulu. (4.1-2; 13)
The animosity between two men escalates to enmity between the two villages and, finally, to a competition between the high god, Ulu, and the lesser deities of the villages. In particular, there seems to be a showdown between Ulu and the lesser god, Idemili.