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No Longer At Ease

No Longer At Ease

by Chinua Achebe

Principles Quotes Page 2

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

"What department he de work?"

"Secretary to the Scholarship Board."

"'E go make plenty money there. Every student who wan' go England go de see am for house."

"'E no be like dat," said Joseph. "Him na gentleman. No fit take bribe."

"Na so," said the other in unbelief. (8.5-9)

Bribery and corruption are so integral to the operations of Nigerian government that Joseph's co-workers find it incredible that a young man like Obi doesn't take bribes.

Quote #5

"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. Though in the west, we might not regard kinship ties in a positive light, it is one of the operating principles in modern Nigerian politics and business.

Quote #6

"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.

"Thanks to the Man Above," he continued, "we now have one of our sons in the senior service. We are not going to ask him to bring his salary to share among us. It is in little things like this that he can help us. It is our fault if we do not approach him…."

"Your words are very good," said the President. "We have the same thought in our minds. But we must give the young man time to look round first and know what is what."

The meeting supported the President by their murmurs. "Give the young man time." "Let him settle down." Obi felt very uneasy. But he knew they meant well. Perhaps it would not be too difficult to manage them. (8.24-27)

Obi wonders if the Igbo operating principle of helping kin will interfere with his own principles against nepotism and taking bribes, values that he absorbed through his Western education.

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