Things Fall Apart
Traditions and Customs Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
“Every year,” he [Unoka] said sadly, “before I put any crop in the earth, I sacrifice a cock to Ani, the owner of all land. It is the law of our fathers. I also kill a cock at the shrine of Ifejioku, the god of yams. I clear the bush and set fire to it when it is dry. I sow the yams when the first rain has fallen, and stake them when the young tendrils appear…” (3.6)
It is customary to make animal sacrifices to the earth goddess when planting crops. Yet again, ritual is used to communicate respect, in this case to the earth goddess who has control over the success of the yams.
He [Okonkwo] took a pot of palm-wine and a cock to Nwakibie…He presented a kola nut and an alligator pepper, which were passed round for all to see and then returned to him. He broke the nut saying: “We shall all live. We pray for life, children, a good harvest and happiness. You will have what is good for you and I will have what is good for me. Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too. If one says no to the other, let his wing break.”
After the kola nut had been eaten Okonkwo brought his palm-wine from the corner of the hut where it had been placed and stood it in the center of the group. He addressed Nwakibie, calling him “Our father.”
“Nna ayi,” he said. “I have brought you this little kola. As our people say, a man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness. I have come to pay you my respects and also to ask a favor. But let us drink the wine first.” (3.11-13)
As a guest, Okonkwo owes traditional gifts and respectful sayings to his host. He goes through all the proper motions to make himself a respectable guest – offering the kola nut, praying for the health of the host’s family, calling him “our father,” and declining to talk business until everyone has eaten their fill.
[Ogbuefi Ezeudu]: “They have that custom in Obodoani. If a man dies at this time he is not buried but cast into the Evil Forest...They throw away large numbers of men and women without burial. (4.28)
The Obodoani have a tradition that if a man dies during the Week of Peace, he cannot be buried, but only cast unceremoniously into the woods. It is as if death is a form of violence rather than a natural part of life.