No Longer At Ease
How we cite our quotes:
Obi felt better and more confident in his decision now that there was an opponent, the first of hundreds to come, no doubt. Perhaps it was not a decision really; for him there could be only one choice. It was scandalous that in the middle of the twentieth century a man could be barred from marrying a girl simply because her great-great-great-great-grandfather had been dedicated to serve a god, thereby setting himself apart and turning his descendents into a forbidden caste to the end of Time. Quite unbelievable. And here was an educated man telling Obi he did not understand. "Not even my mother can stop me," he said as he lay down beside Joseph. (7.73)
Obi finds his sudden defensive position exhilarating and decides to override any objections to marrying Clara, even if his mother disapproves. Unfortunately, he won't be able to sustain this decision.
Obi knew better than anyone else that his family would violently oppose the idea of marrying an osu. Who wouldn't? But for him it was either Clara or nobody. Family ties were all very well as long as they did not interfere with Clara. "If I could convince my mother," he thought, "all would be well." (7.108)
Obi plans to forsake his family for Clara. While there may be a biblical principle that he can quote to his Christian father down the line, it is not an Igbo custom at all. He hopes that he can get his mother on his side.
"Let joking pass," said the old man who had earlier on greeted Umuofia in a warlike salute. "Joshua is now without a job. We have given him ten pounds. But ten pounds does not talk. If you stand a hundred pounds here where I stand now, it will not talk. That is why we say that he who has people is richer than he who has money. Everyone of us here should look out for openings in his department and put in a word for Joshua. This was greeted with approval. (8.24)
Though Joshua needs money for a bribe in order to get a job, he also needs connections. The old man speaking here demonstrates one of the principles operating throughout Africa: kinship ties. Kinship ties dictate your obligations to people from your clan or village. In this case, kinship ties will allow Joshua to find a job. This principle, called nepotism, is one of the operating principles in modern Nigerian politics and business, as presented in this novel.