Arrow of God
by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God Revenge Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
What happened next was the work of Ekwensu, the bringer of evil. Akukali rushed after Ebo, went into the obi, took the ikenga from his shrine, rushed outside again and, while everyone stood aghast, split it in two.
Ebo was last to see the abomination….Akukali stood in front of him. The two pieces of his ikenga lay where their violator had kicked them in the dust.
"Move another step if you call yourself a man. Yes I did it. What can you do?"
So it was true. Still Ebo turned round and went into his obi. Yes, the gap where his ikenga, the strength of his right arm, had stood stared back at him – an empty patch, without dust, on the wooden board. "Nna doh! Nna doh!" he wept, calling on his dead father to come to his aid. Then he got up and went into his sleeping-room. He was there a little while before Otikpo, thinking he might be doing violence to himself, rushed into the room to see. But it was too late. Ebo pushed him aside and came into the obi with his loaded gun. At the threshold he knelt down and aimed. Akukalia, sensing the danger, dashed forward. Although the bullet had caught him in the chest, he continued running with his machete held high until he fell at the threshold, his face hitting the low thatch before he went down.
When the body was brought home to Umuaro everyone was stunned. It had never happened before that an emissary of Umuaro was killed abroad. But after the first shock people began to say that their clansman had done an unforgivable thing. (2.79-83)
Akukalia has committed an outrage – a sacrilege – against Ebo's personal god. His people recognize that he had done the wrong thing, and that Ebo had no other choice but to exact revenge.
Umuaro might have left the matter there, and perhaps the whole land dispute with it as Ekwensu seemed to have taken a hand in it. But one small thing worried them. It was small but at the same time it was very great. Why had Okperi not deigned to send a message to Umuaro to say this was what happened and that was what happened? Everyone agreed that the man who killed Akukali had been sorely provoked. It was also true that Akukalia was not only a son of Umuaro; he was also the son of a daughter of Okperi, and what had happened might be likened to he-goat's head dropping into he-goat's bag. Yet when a man was killed something had to be said, some explanation given. That Okperi had not cared to say anything beyond returning the corpse was a mark of the contempt in which the now held Umuaro. And that could not be overlooked. (2.85)
If Okperi had simply shown Umuaro some respect, then they might not have taken this conflict to the next level. Akukali had done the wrong thing, true; but an Okperi man had killed their clansman and then said nothing about it. They had to do something in response. The pride of the Umuaro people breeds revenge.
"But let the slave who sees another cast into a shallow grave know that he will be buried in the same way when his day comes. Umuaro is today challenging its chi. Is there any man or woman in Umuaro who does not know Ulu, the deity that destroys a man when his life is sweetest to him? Some people are still talking of carrying war to Okperi. Do they think that Ulu will fight in blame? Today the world is spoilt and there is no longer head or tail in anything that is done. But Ulu is not spoilt with it. If you go to war to avenge a man who passed shit on the head of his mother's father, Ulu will not follow you to be soiled in the corruption. Umuaro, I salute you." (2.97)
Here, Ezeulu informs his people that a god only blesses your acts of revenge if you are righteous in your acts. If you seek revenge when you brought your trouble on yourself, however, then your god will not stick up for you.