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Okonkwo was clearly cut out for great things. He was still young but he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in the nine villages. He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams, and had just married his third wife. To crown it all he had taken two titles and had shown incredible prowess in two inter-tribal wars. And so although Okonkwo was still young, he was already one of the greatest men of his time. Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings. Okonkwo had clearly washed his hands and so he ate with kings and elders. (1.16)
Because of his own hard work and dedication, Okonkwo’s future looks bright. It seems that he is indeed able to influence his own destiny with his sheer will.
And that was how he came to look after the doomed lad who was sacrificed to the village of Umuofia by their neighbors to avoid war and bloodshed. The ill-fated lad was called Ikemefuna. (1.16)
From the very beginning, Ikemefuna’s name is associated with doom. This blatant foreshadowing prepares readers for something dreadful to happen to Ikemefuna. It also shows that Ikemefuna isn’t in control of his own destiny.
The elders, or ndichie, met to hear a report of Okonkwo’s mission. At the end they decided, as everybody knew they would, that the girl should go to Ogbuefi Udo to replace his murdered wife. As for the boy, he belonged to the clan as a whole, and there was no hurry to decide his fate. (2.11)
Since “everybody knew” what would happen after the Umuofia woman’s murder, justice seems inevitable – or at least predictable. The fates of the two Mbaino children are decided for them – without their consultation or consent – simply because one of their tribesman committed a crime. The two youths are given no choice in their destinies.