Thursday, September 21, 2006

xen‧o‧pho‧bi‧a?

To be a foreigner in a foreign land is one thing, but to feel like an outsider in your own community is something else. Obi Okonkow, the central character in Chinua Achebe's novel, No Longer at Ease, is faced with such a situation. Torn between his ancestrial African culture and his adopted English ways, Obi finds it hard to maintain his Nigerian herritage with what he has learned in cosmopolitan London. Achebe uses the juxtaposition of the Nigerian city of Lagos and the Western city of London, to represent Obi's struggle and to highlight the social injustices that were commonplace in this period of decolonization. Poised for independence, during the time in which the narritive takes place, Nigeria is coming into her own. However, that's not to say that she was ready to become and independent state, given the vast corruption in the government.
Any city is a large community. Those who are part of this community form relationships with the city, with eachother and create something that is unquely their own. Obi was expected to form a bond with London, with the Western world, when he was shipped of to Great Britain to study. He was to be Nigeria's envoy to the mother country, to learn her neuances and to bring the Nigerian people a deeper understanding of the white man. The fact of the matter is, Obi was out of his element and no matter how hard her tried, he would never be a part of this community, the city of London.