24 July 2016

No Longer At Ease - Hybridity and polarization

Hybridity: 

Chinua Achebe is a sincere native African who dedicated himself to show the humanity of his country to the world, unlike the old racist narratives that side with the white man only. In this respect, Achebe tackles the idea of the crossroads, mainly how to respect the black culture and how to take the good side of the western culture in order to achieve a great mixture that may benefit one’s own homeland.

In the novel, Obi Okonkwo wants to change his country to the best, but he fails because his values are shallow; He does not believe in the culture and traditions of Nigeria. In fact, Obi wears the mask of the western civilization and acts as superior to his native land. When he says, “The civil service is corrupt because of these so called experienced men at the top.” This asserts the idea of his vanity as he wants to replace the old Nigerians with educated young people in the civil service. Therefore, the character of Obi represents the negative side of the crossroads of culture.

It is worth mentioning that Obi actually is ashamed of his Nigerian identity. His father, Isaac was not able to educate his son how to respect and appreciate the values of his country and accept them as they are. His father even kept his son away from Umuofia which is pagan, because he is Christian. He also did not allow him to listen to native songs because they are heathen and he is a missionary. Even stories were banned from being told by the mother to him. Consequently, Obi cannot read the bible in his native language and pretends to read it only in English. He lost esteem in language and faith in Christianity. Thus, Obi is no longer at ease between the two cultures. He became hybrid as he is a lost man who is unable to survive at the crossroads.

Going deeply into the features of Obi’s father, he totally rejects the values and heritage of his country, Nigeria; he only believes in the western culture, that is why it is not considered as hybridism. The father moves towards one thing which is the west and leaves his origin. The novel addresses such feature when it reads, “Okonkwo never destroyed a piece of paper.” This is a satire because Okonkwo appreciates the written word only which comes from the west and he refuses to stick to the oral tradition, so his room is filled with printed papers.

As for the features of Obi’s mother, she totally reflects the idea of hybridism as she was able to adapt to the change of time. Her room shows how she could preserve the symbols of native culture such as the “yams”, “Kola nuts” and the cylindrical vessel” that is used to store water and biscuits. She wants to root her children in her culture in spite of the father’s firmness. She loves the native singing which is anti-Christian and conveys pure human feelings. The father cannot see what is beautiful and valuable in his culture, whereas the mother is flexible and accepts everything in her country without vanity. She has benefited the most from her culture. Therefore, she represents the positive aspect of hybridity.

To set the record straight, the mother tried from the very beginning to make Obi behave in good manners according to the culture of country. She told him – when he was young - not to take food from the neighbours not to change habits, and when he grew up, she told him not to marry Clara as she is an Osu. However, Obi defies the rooted customs of Nigeria, and at the end, he gave up his principles and accepted to take bribes. Although he is ideally good, he failed to carry out his intentions because his values are negative and hollow.

To conclude, hybridism is a racist kind of thinking based on polarization. It casts shadow on many characters in the novels who reflect the true image of Nigeria at the time. The mother and the writer took the positive side of hybridism, whereas Obi took the negative side of it. Obi’s father does not reflect hybridity as he rejects his culture completely like the white man, Mr. Green.


Polarization:

Polarization means to have two opposing things. It is the idea supported by the racists as they want the Nigerian culture to be opposed with the western culture so that the west can dominate.  The characters of the novel who adopt this principle totally refuse the other side which is the Nigerian traditions and values; they want it to disappear.

The main character whose ideas are based on polarization is Isaac Okonkwo. The father affected the character of his son, Obi in a way that made the latter such a negative hybrid. The mother is in sharp contrast to her husband. She tried hard to affect her children in a way that they respect and appreciate their native culture.

In the novel, Obi Okonkwo wants to change his country to the best, but he fails because his values are shallow; He does not believe in the culture and traditions of Nigeria. In fact, Obi wears the mask of the western civilization and acts as superior to his native land. When he says, “The civil service is corrupt because of these so called experienced men at the top.” This asserts the idea of his vanity as he wants to replace the old Nigerians with educated young people in the civil service. Therefore, the character of Obi represents the negative side of the crossroads of culture.

It is worth mentioning that Obi actually is ashamed of his Nigerian identity. His father, Isaac was not able to educate his son how to respect and appreciate the values of his country and accept them as they are. His father even kept his son away from Umuofia which is pagan, because he is Christian. He also did not allow him to listen to native songs because they are heathen and he is a missionary. Even stories were banned from being told by the mother to him. Consequently, Obi cannot read the bible in his native language and pretends to read it only in English. He lost esteem in language and faith in Christianity. Thus, Obi is no longer at ease between the two cultures. He became hybrid as he is a lost man who is unable to survive at the crossroads.

Going deeply into the features of Obi’s father, he totally rejects the values and heritage of his country, Nigeria; he only believes in the western culture, that is why it is not considered as hybridism. The father moves towards one thing which is the west and leaves his origin. The novel addresses such feature when it reads, “Okonkwo never destroyed a piece of paper.” This is a satire because Okonkwo appreciates the written word only which comes from the west and he refuses to stick to the oral tradition, so his room is filled with printed papers.

As for the features of Obi’s mother, she totally reflects the idea of hybridism as she was able to adapt to the change of time. Her room shows how she could preserve the symbols of native culture such as the “yams”, “Kola nuts” and the cylindrical vessel” that is used to store water and biscuits. She wants to root her children in her culture in spite of the father’s firmness. She loves the native singing which is anti-Christian and conveys pure human feelings. The father cannot see what is beautiful and valuable in his culture, whereas the mother is flexible and accepts everything in her country without vanity. She has benefited the most from her culture. Therefore, she represents the positive aspect of hybridity.

To set the record straight, the mother tried from the very beginning to make Obi behave in good manners according to the culture of country. She told him – when he was young - not to take food from the neighbours not to change habits, and when he grew up, she told him not to marry Clara as she is an Osu. However, Obi defies the rooted customs of Nigeria, and at the end, he gave up his principles and accepted to take bribes. Although he is ideally good, he failed to carry out his intentions because his values are negative and hollow.

To conclude, Polarization is a racist kind of thinking. It casts shadow on many characters in the novels who reflect the true image of Nigeria at the time. The mother and the writer took the positive side of hybridism, whereas Obi took the negative side of it. Obi’s father does not reflect hybridity as he rejects his culture completely like the white man, Mr. Green.

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