Saturday, March 9, 2013

Education in Ibo

While I have yet to finish Things Fall Apart, I have yet to hear mention of an ordered system of education within Ibo society.  Education in Ibo society seems to focus on learning through observation. Learning is done within the family- Okonkwo teaches Ikemefuna how to act as a patriarch. Ekwefi teaches Enzimna how to act like a typical Ibo women- how to carry food to her father, and Okonkwo in turn chastises Enzimna for unladylike behavior. There is no need for the children to be "literate" because as far as I can tell there is not much use for the written language in Ibo society. It fascinates me that imperialism completely restructured almost every facet of some cultures, including education in the Ibo culture. By the time Achebe went to school in Nigeria, a formal education system was brought about that allowed him to become the successful person in the Western world that he is today, however, his education does not seem to be the old fashioned typical Ibo education found in his book. This is a wonderful example of how Achebe bridges Western and African culture.


Grant Reggio said...

I only see this as another way in which the African culture portrayed in this book seems to be "in touch" with its roots. Learning within the family adds a certain personableness. This can also therefore be another testament to how strong the idea of family is played up in the book.

wkuehne said...

I just finished Things Fall Apart, an education plays a more important role in the novel than I had originally thought. The churches educate Ibo citizens in reading and writing, which the Europeans view as critical, but Ibo society was actually more progressed than European society in some ways without the "progressed" education of Europeans. Ibo citizens are much more in touch with their roots, as Grant said, but they are also much more respectful and accommodating than Europeans. Ibo citizens are much more honorable and lesss corrupt than the Europeans, who trick the Ibo leaders, abuse them, and charge the citizens of Umoufia more than they are supposed to.

Cassidy George said...

I thought about this concept while I was reading as well. It's amazing that Achebe has the ability to paint such a beautiful and interesting portrait of the Ibo society with our Western words and forms of communication. It makes me consider all of the other cultures in the world that we don't know about. I'm thankful for Achebe's unique voice. I wish there were more figures like him, representatives of marginalized or obscurer cultures, helping to paint a more honest portrait of their identity to Westerners. I know I feel genuinely enlightened and wish I could expand this feeling toward other groups that I am less educated about.