The egwugwu are a symbol of the culture and independence of the Umuofia. The egwugwu are seen as ancestral gods, though in actuality they are masked Umuofia elders. The egwugwu serve as respected judges in the community, listening to complaints and prescribing punishments and deciding conflicts. Just as the egwugwu are superstitiously thought to be the spirits of the Umuofia ancestors, for the sake of the novel, they are symbolically the spirit of the clan. When the egwugwu loose power in the community and are replaced by a white court, the clan’s culture and independence is lost.