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Chapter 9

posted Oct 28, 2011 19:41:13 by
Achebe dedicates a whole chapter to the subject of ogbanje. What does the ogbanje reveal about Ibo society? How does the ogbanje balance against the “throwinging away” of twins? Does Achebe seem to validate the belief in ogbanje? Why do you think he devotes so much of the chapter to this mysterious part of Ibo culture?
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5 replies
KAR04 said Oct 30, 2011 20:17:18
Achebe uses the ogbanje chapter to reveal the complexity of Ibo traditions. The ogbanje is similar to the "throwing away" of twins because the child the subject of a superstition, however the parents throw away the twins whereas the ogbanje dies even though the parents do not want it to. I think that Achebe does not states his point of view regarding the belief of the ogbanje so that the reader can decide and form their own opinion. I think that Achebe devoted an entire chapter to the ogbanje to explain the depth of Ibo rituals and superstitions and to demonstrate why foreigners would have trouble understanding Ibo culture.
BRENDAN04 said Oct 30, 2011 20:45:07
In Ibo society, the ogbanje is an evil spirit that resides inside a mother, which causes all of the babies born from that mother to die in early childhood. The ogbanje reveals the Ibo beliefs in evil spirits, whose only goal is to bring sadness and anger to the Ibo people. The belief in the ogbanje balances the "throwing away" of the twins because the society believes that placing the twins in the Evil Forest traps the ogbanje, and prevents it from returning to mother to kill more of her children. That belief is also the reason that medicine man is able to mutilate Ekwefi's dead baby with the razor and drag him to the forest. The medicine man is trying to scare the ogbanje from returning to the mother because the ogbanje is broken and disfigured. It appears to me, that Achebe does not take up a bias opinion on the belief of the ogbanje, but rather, he wants to give the reader more information on the beliefs and customs of the Ibo society. He devotes the chapter to the ritual, so that the stereotypes, or single stories, about Africans can be broken, and the reader can learn about different customs within the African stereotype.
TOMM04 said Oct 30, 2011 21:54:22
I agree with Brendan's idea that the ogbanje reveals how evil spirits bring sadness and anger to the Ibo people. They use spirits to represent how different things in their world happen that are really beyond explanation. They believe that it is possible to keep the evil spirits away through fear, which explains the "throwing away" of the twins. It also explains the brutal mutilation of the child. Achebe makes the Ibo people seem indiffferent to this mutilation, signifying how it is strongly believed in their society. Achebe also has the medcine man find the iyi-uwa deep in the ground, which seems to validate the theory. Achebe devotes a chapter to this ritual in order to illustrate the complexity of Ibo beliefs and also seems to validate this seemingly lucrative theory. To a European or American, the belief is dismissed as untrue and crazy because we are unfamiliar with Ibo cultures, but finding a wrapped stone deep in the ground where a 9 year-old girl pointed definitely surprised readers.
SCOT04 said Oct 31, 2011 01:32:37
The Obanje is a spirit that rests within a child's body that appears desperate for life. To be an obanje child is the Ibo custom that once a child dies during childbirth, the spirit of that child climbs back into the mothers' womb and hopes to be reborn. The obanje is just another one of those "ridiculous" beliefs that the Ibo society has in the eyes of western tradition. Achebe also describes that the Ibo society circumcise their children on the 8th day and then they have a naming ceremony to create a name for the child. Like Thomas said, the Ibo society is very complex and I cannot seem to understand their system of beliefs. They seem to have a well structured life but at times their beliefs are far to superstitious and leave no room for interpretation. I agree with Brendan that Achebe is simply trying to give us the information without being bias towards Ibo culture.
MOLLY04 said Nov 01, 2011 11:09:34
The ogbanji represents the depth of the Ibo traditions. Although we see their ritual of killing the ogbanji child as an unbelievable tradition, the ritual is normal to their society. By killing the twins and throwing them away, the Ibo society believes they are protecting their community. Achebe knows that the his non- African audience would be appalled by the mutilation of the babies. But the reason he adds this tradition is to force his readers to recognize that although these rituals are unheard-of to us, the Ibo society is used to this ritual because it is one of their traditions. Our society relates to the "throwing away" of the twins through abortion. To a member of Ibo society, abortion may seem like a horrific act but to us, it is just a conflict that we are trying to resolve. Achebe tries to highlight that we will not understand the Ibo society's beliefs because we are not part of the Ibo society.
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