Change is an inevitable part of life. This is exactly what Obierika and the Ibo clan must do, change, in order to survive the cultural collision of the Ibo and the colonizers in Chinua Achebes Things Fall Apart. Obierika is an example of the type of personality that has a strong sense of self and at the same time is open to new ideas. For this reason, Obierikas forward-thinking is key to how he survives the cultural collision; he respects the law of the land and the Oracle but doesnt follow blindly and is cautious to hold his own sense of identity.
Obierikas strong sense of self comes from the customs of the Ibo that guided him in becoming one of the higher ranking men in his village. However, it is his forward-thinking that sets him apart from the rest of the Ibo. What crime had they commited? He asked himself when he thought deeply about the twins that are left to die in the Evil Forest. He respects his culture but knows that there is something ethically wrong with killing a baby. The colonizers bring new ideas about the way people should be treated, which line up with what he has been questioning since before they came. This ties in with his respect with is culture.
Obierika is a man with a high title in his village due to his respect of the Ibo culture. He believes in the Oracle and the law of the land but the difference is that he doesnt follow blindly. But if the Oracle said that my son should be killed I would neither dispute it nor be the one to do it. He find a way to not be part of the death of an innocent and warns Okonkwo not to be part of it but fails. We see that later on Okonkwo suffers the consequences when he accidentally kills someone and has to flee the village to his motherland. Obierika shows that he remains Ibo in his beliefs but takes a stand when something that is ethically wrong happens. This is what helps him feel like he can identify with the colonizers. Although he identifies with them in a sense, he is careful to retain his identity as an Ibo.
Obierika is curious about the colonists that come to Umuofia and shares with them about his culture as he learns about their culture. He even engages in conversations with Mr. Brown about the differences and similarities in their religions. Although he is very open to the new ideas hes learning, he does realize that their rich and complex culture is slowly dying. “He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” He understands that he doesnt have the power to keep them from destroying their culture completely, and sadly his friend too. Even though he couldnt save him, Obierika was able to save himself from the clash of cultures.
In conclusion, Obierika is one of the more forward-thinking, wiser and cautious characters in this book and for this reason he survived the dangerous collision of Ibo and Christian cultures and beliefs. Many cultures are experiencing this since the world started getting explored and we see it now in our present lives in California with the many cultures that live here. Its not easy to make way for different ways of living but everybody has to try because having mutual respect for your neighbor is a universal feeling.
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