Things Fall Apart
How we cite our quotes:
[Uzowulu]: “That woman standing there is my wife, Mgbafo. I married her with my money and my yams. I do not owe my in-laws anything. I owe them no yams. I owe them no coco-yams. One morning three of them came to my house, beat me up and took my wife and children away. This happened in the rainy season. I have waited in vain for my wife to return. At last I went to my in-laws and said to them, ‘You have taken back your sister. I did not send her away. You yourselves took her. The law of the clan is that you should return her bride-price.’ But my wife’s brothers said they had nothing to tell me. So I have brought the matter to the fathers of the clan. My case is finished. I salute you.” (10.24)
Uzowulu’s case concerns the rights he has to his family by Igbo law. He wants either his wife back or the money he paid for her.
On the following morning the entire neighborhood wore a festive air because Okonkwo’s friend, Obierika, was celebrating his daughter’s uri. It was the day on which her suitor (having already paid the greater part of her bride-price) would bring palm-wine not only to her parents and immediate relatives but to the wide and extensive group of kinsmen called umanna. Everybody had been invited – men, women and children. But it was really a woman’s ceremony and the central figures were the bride and her mother. (12.1)
During a daughter’s uri, women are finally acknowledged as important parts of the family and given free rein to plan the festival and feast.
He [Obierika] remembered his wife’s twin children, whom he had thrown away. What crime had they committed? The Earth had decreed that they were an offense on the land and must be destroyed. And if the clan did not exact punishment for an offense against the great goddess, her wrath was loosed on all the land and not just on the offender. (13.16)
Obierika regrets disposing of his twins just because the law decreed it so. But he understands that if a crime against the goddess goes unpunished, her wrath will fall not only upon the offender, but also upon his whole family and extended family – even the clan itself.