Study Guide

No Longer At Ease Chapter 8

By Chinua Achebe

Chapter 8

  • Obi misses the November meeting of the Umuofia Progressive Union, but he picks up Joseph and takes him to the December meeting in style (i.e., in a fancy, new car).
  • Before Obi arrives, Joseph tells his co-workers that his "brother" has studied the Classics in England – a small lie, since Obi studied English, but Joseph thinks "Classics" sounds more impressive.
  • Joseph adds that Obi works as the Secretary to the Scholarship Board. His co-workers mention that he must be a wealthy man, since every student who wants to study in England will go visit him in his house – i.e., bring him a bribe – and Joseph responds that Obi doesn't take bribes. His co-workers fail to believe him.
  • The entire Umuofia Progressive Union is impressed when Joseph and Obi arrive in Obi's new car. But after a few exclamations, the meeting continues.
  • The problem they are discussing is the fact that Joseph Udo got fired because he was sleeping on the job.
  • Joshua's boss had never received the ten-pound bribe that Joshua had promised him, and so he found an excuse to get rid of him. Now Joshua needs another ten pounds to find a new job. The Union agrees to it. But then another member mentions that money is not enough; everybody needs to find out if there is an opening where they are working. In other words, bribes alone are insufficient, connections are equally important.
  • Then they discuss the complaints the young people had about Obi's reception. They had not received any of the beer that was bought for the occasion; instead, they were forced to drink Lagos palm wine, which is no better than water.
  • Obi gets up to speak. He asks for a small delay of four months before he starts paying back his loan; he has been gone for four years and now has many small matters to take care of before he can begin to pay back the scholarship.
  • It is clear that some members of the Union are amenable to a four-month grace period, while others are not.
  • The President of the Union gets up to speak. He asks Obi to consider a couple of things: his monthly salary is more than many of the members of the Union make in one year. Adding insult to injury, he says has heard that Obi is running around with a girl of "doubtful ancestry."
  • Obi is furious and starts yelling at the President that he should take him to court.
  • The President responds that he can take him to court, but let him finish what he is saying.
  • Obi says he won't listen to him any more. Furthermore, he's sorry he asked for a grace period of the loan and he will now start paying it immediately.
  • He runs off, despite some of the men's attempts to stop him. He gets in his car and tells his driver to leave immediately. Joseph also tries to stop him but Obi tells him to get away. He orders his driver to take him to Clara's house.