No Longer At Ease
How we cite our quotes:
Clara begged him not to misunderstand her. She said she was taking her present step because she did not want to ruin his life. "I have thought about the whole matter very carefully. There are two reasons why we should not get married."
"What are they?"
"Well, the first is that your family will be against it. I don't want to come between you and your family."
"Bunk! Anyway, what is the second reason?" She could not remember what it was. It didn't matter, anyway. The first reason was quite enough. (13. 7-10)
In African cultures, the family is intimately involved in the selection of the spouse and in the continuation of the marriage.
He that has a brother must hold him to his heart,
For a kinsman cannot be bought in the market,
Neither is a brother bought with money. (13. 36)
Obi hears the lyrics of this song sung when he is waiting to hear what his ill mother has to say to him about his engagement to Clara, an osu. The song suggests two significant things: 1) that family is the most important thing; and 2) that no matter what you do for you're your family, you cannot make them obligated to you through material items. Though Obi has in the past suggested that if he can just convince his mother to accept Clara, it will be OK, this song suggests that can never be obligated to support his desire to marry a woman whom he is forbidden to marry.
"How were all our people in Lagos when you left them?" he asked. He sat on his wooden bed while Obi sat on a low stool facing him, drawing lines with his finger on the dusty top of the Harvest table.
"Lagos is a very big place. You can travel the distance from here to Abame and still be in Lagos."
"So they said. But you have a meeting of Umuofia people?" It was half-question, half-statement.
"Yes. We have a meeting. But it is only once a month." And he added: "It is not always that one finds time to attend." The fact was he had not attended since November.
"True," said his father. "But in a strange land one should always move near one's kinsmen." (14. 8-12)
Obi's father Isaac gently reminds him that not only is it a duty to associate with one's fellow citizens and relatives when one lives a long distance away from home, but it is a necessity. Family is what gives an individual their identity, their security, their community away from home.