Arrow of God
by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God Race Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The place where the Christians built their place of worship was not far from Ezeulu's compound….His mind turned from the festival to the new religion. He was not sure what to make of it. At first he had thought that since the white man had come with great power and conquest it was necessary that some people should learn the ways of his deity. That was why he had agreed to send his son, Oduche, to learn the new ritual. He also wanted him to learn the white man's wisdom, for Ezeulu knew from what he saw of Wintabota and the stories he heard about his people that the white man was very wise.
But now Ezeulu was becoming afraid that the new religion was like a leper. Allow him a handshake and he wants to embrace. Ezeulu had already spoken strongly to his son who was becoming more strange every day. Perhaps the time had come to bring him out again. But what would happen if, as many oracles prophesied, the white man had come to take over the land and rule? In such a case it would be wise to have a man of your family in his band. (4.27-28)
Ezeulu recognized that the white man had come to rule his people; if that was the case, it was important to understand the source of his power. But he hadn't imagined that Western culture would replace the Igbo way of life. Now that he can see it happening he doesn't what to do about it.
Words, words, words. Civilization, African mind, African atmosphere. Has His Honour ever rescued a man buried alive up to his neck, with a piece of roast yam on his head to attract vultures? He [Winterbottom] began to pace up and down again. But why couldn't someone tell the bloody man that the whole damn thing was stupid and futile. He knew why. They were all afraid of losing their promotion or the O.B.E. (5.7)
Because he considers Africans barbaric, Winterbottom believes that the system of "indirect rule" cannot be successful. The men who create such a system, he argues here, have obviously never been to Africa.
But this overseer went around intimidating the villages and telling them that unless they gave him money the new road would pass through the middle of their compound. When some of them reported the matter to their chief he told them there was nothing he could do.…Needless to say, Chief Ikedi took a big slice of this illegal tax.
Thinking of this incident Captain Winterbottom could find some excuse for the overseer. He was a man from another clan; in the eyes of the native, a foreigner. But what excuse could one offer for a man who was their blood brother and chief? Captain Winterbottom could only put it down to cruelty of a kind which African alone produced. It was this elemental cruelty in the psychological makeup of the native that the starry-eyed European found so difficult to understand. (5.13-14)
Winterbottom observes early evidence of the kind of corruption that plagues Nigeria to this day. He understands how you could swindle people who were strangers, which is why he understands the overseer; but he doesn't understand how you can swindle people who are your relatives, like Chief Ikdei. For Winterbottom, this is a distinguishing characteristic between Africans and Europeans.