We live in an age where the subject of equality has become a major concern. The subject of gender has been gaining momentum gradually in almost all circles. Authors have also played a key role in trying to portray the role the women have played in society. In this paper we are going to look at Chinua Achebe’s work, that is, Things fall Apart. This book portrays Africans in the Ibo society before the coming of the white man. Through this book, the reader is brought to the realization of the role that the white man played in the destruction of the bonds which existed in the African culture.
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In this book, the author, Achebe, gives an analysis of the role that women played in the Ibo society. In this context, women are regarded as the weaker sex, when compared to men. In this case, women are portrayed as vulnerable beings that need assistance from the male counterparts. In essence, women are depicted as human beings who play a major supporting role in society. They are the ones who are supposed to take care of the children and play a supporting role to their husbands. Despite this depiction, there are other roles that some women play. For instance, Chielo the priestess is a spiritual leader who wields immense and unquestionable authority (Chinua). Upon reading this book, I realized that the issues which Achebe is bringing to the fore are issues that I have witnessed and grappled with. This is because the way women are treated in the society where I come from is not something which I agree with.
First and foremost is the fact that the role of women in society is depicted as that of lower-class citizens. In this society, women do not have a say in matters that are considered to be important. What should hold value is the fact that they are supposed to be subservient to men. Essentially, this view does not hold value as it was used in the past. In the current age, things have changed about the position of women in society. In essence, women have become more vocal regarding their rights and position in society. It is worth mentioning, that the recent trends have led to realignment and adjustment of the roles that women play in society. Wife beating is still taking place in some places in the world. For instance, in Africa, there are rampant cases where men beat up their women. Though there are institutions that have been set up to fight this, these habits are still taking place. I do not agree with these acts. I believe that women and men should have an equal platform upon which they should address issues of this nature instead of engaging in fighting. Beating up women is naturally degrading and it is an infringement upon someone’s rights. Thus, this habit should be highly condemned. I have witnessed such experiences in the village where I come from. It was not a nice experience when I witnessed one of my uncles beating up his wife. In this case, the children were the ones who were hurt the most.
What Achebe has brought to the fore does not just display what happens in Ibo, rather it gives a glimpse of what happens in many cultures across the globe. It is important to note that in general women have been viewed in a manner that suggests that they are persons who cannot exist on their own without seeking support from their better halves (Chinua). However, this should not be the case. This is because the society in which we live has demonstrated the fact that women have got what it takes to make it in their endeavors without necessarily having to rely on their male counterparts. Thus, they should both seek these avenues and available opportunities to show what they have to offer in society.
In conclusion, society cannot progress based on competition. Rather, society will only succeed and progressed based on mutual understanding and trust. In this case, women and men in the society will achieve much better results if they are in a position of bringing their differing views about issues on the table with the common goal. As portrayed in normal traditional African society, women and men performed different tasks. The problem arose when the attitudes of the industrialized countries are brought to bear upon these separate activities, and some are judged superior and others as inferior, with women normally performing what is seen as inferior tasks.
In the current society what is important is trying to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the different genders and seeking a common ground of working together. Submission should not be used as a weapon to demean humanity; rather it should be used as a tool to appreciate the roles that society is playing. When Okonkwo is abandoned by his Chi and is exiled by his people, he flees to his motherland, where, from the land of the spirits, his mother offers him protection and makes him prosper again (Chinua). Thus, the greatness of motherhood lies in its permanence and reliability. It is the only force that can be considered to be steadfast in its love and cooperativeness which marks one of the unique and great roles that women play in the lives of many people in society.
Chinua, Achebe. Things Fall Apart, London: Heinemann, 1996. Print.