Study Guide

No Longer At Ease Chapter 4

By Chinua Achebe

Chapter 4

  • There was no crowd waiting for the boat when they arrived in Lagos.
  • When the customs boy tries to collect a duty on Obi's radiogram, Obi asks for a receipt.
  • The boy offers to reduce the fee but there will be no receipt and Obi claims he will call a policeman.
  • Here we see the first example of Obi's refusal to be corrupted or to play the game of bribery.
  • The Umuofia Progressive Union throws a huge welcome-home reception for Obi. Everybody is dressed up for it – everybody, that is, except Obi. This is his first mistake. People expected an educated young man to be dressed properly.
  • The Secretary of the Union welcomes Obi back. He speaks of the great honor it is to have an educated son of Umuofia. He speaks of the education-loan arrangement, called the Umuofia Scholarship Scheme, where the recipient (in this case, Obi) will repay his debt to the Union in four years so that they can send other students to study in England.
  • The audience loves the fluent and flowery speech.
  • Obi's second mistake: he gets up and speaks plainly, using plain English, and speaks only of the value of education and how important it is to have educated men who can help lead the future independent Nigeria.
  • Afterwards, some of the men ask Obi whether he has a job yet. Obi admits he does not but he has an interview. The Vice-President says that things will work out because Obi is educated, otherwise, he would have advised Obi to do some bribing to ensure getting a job.
  • The President says that the men Obi is dealing with are white and won't take bribes.
  • The Vice President laughs at his foolishness and claims that whites are among the most corrupt these days.
  • Joseph and Obi go to dinner at a little restaurant owned by Syrians who, Joseph claims, own everything these days.
  • Obi says he wants Nigerian food and Joseph says he'll arrange for his cook to make him something tomorrow.
  • The white manageress comes out and complains about a duster that somebody left out. She spills some milk on herself and then sits down near her parrot. Obi watches in fascination.
  • Obi says he thinks the restaurant is owned by the British, since she is British.
  • He also tells Joseph that he doesn't want to stay in the hotel that the Union has put him up in –he wants to stay with Joseph.
  • Joseph wonders if that seems proper since, after all, Obi is educated. But Obi doesn't care what people think.
  • The talk turns to the idea of "destiny" and Obi and Joseph reminisce about how obvious it was, when they were growing up, that Obi would end up going to college in England. They even laugh about the letter he wrote to Hitler when he was young.
  • When they leave the restaurant, the Minister of State – the Honorable Sam Okoli – walks into the room. Obi is transfixed but not by the Hon Sam Okoli.
  • He's transfixed by Clara, who is sitting in the Minister's car.