CULTURE CONFLICT, A TRAGEDY TO AFRICAN SOCIETIES IN CHINUA ACHEBE’S “THINGS FALL APART”, AND OLA ROTIMI’S ‘KURUNMI”
Culture conflict as a tragedy to African societies is a struggle between the western culture and a foreign tradition; as a result of the Europeans by penetrating through the African culture, deftly cuts the thread that binds the African societies together and the societies begins to disintegrate. Current attempts to unite European countries into a whole occur against a history of division and divergences, politically, Europe is a very fragmented sized countries that reflect its varied history of conflict and co-operation. The diversity of Europe began centuries ago, when numerous people migrated in the world region, bringing with them now cultural practices.
1.1 The Background of study
A study of the humanities as they developed in Africa requires a special approach. In the first place, the sheer size of Africa; three times a big as the continental United States and Alaska; and variety of climates and land forms prevented the formation of a single unified culture. Unlike India or china, Africa was never united under a central government; it is therefore impossible to generalize about developments there. Like American technology and the ability to write did not develop and the same speed as in Europe and Asia, and we have no consistent. Further confusion was created by the arrival of Muslim and European traders in the sixteenth century and the subsequent centuries of generally brutal colonization. To reconstruct the earliest civilizations on Africa soil, we must rely on archaeological remains and written accounts by the first outsider to visit the early African kingdoms. The general picture is that of a series of powerful and highly developed states.
1.2 Statement of problem
Religion and society in early Africa, at first sight, African’s life seems to have been divided by its size into a wide variety of differing peoples and cultures. It is often observed that today more than one thousand languages are spoken in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet most of these are related to four or five basic tongues, suggesting that beneath the apparent diversity there lays a common culture inheritance other factors bear this out. One important characteristic many Africans share in their attitude towards their environment and living creatures. Although, a single common African religion never existed, most African people developed a variety of animist beliefs. These took forms specific to individual religions, but all basically aimed to understand be world and human life though the working of nature, using rituals and ceremonies to deal with illness, death, and natural disasters. For many groups, the focus of their specific cult was a particular animal which because sacred and could therefore killed by members of the group. Because in the absences of written texts, the accumulation of religious practices and beliefs had to be memorized and passed on by word of mouth, the elderly became revered, and a tradition of ancestor worship developed. This in turn laid emphasis on the family and, more broadly, the village community. Within the community certain extended families or kingship groups, served specific functions: hunters, farmers, traders, and so on. Thus religion and social structure reinforced one another and allowed for the slow evolution of increasingly powerfully kingdoms.
1.3 Purpose of the study
How the world trade begin changing world culture. Knowledge of different cultures spread through out the world will trade and conquest, but the ideas had varying effects in different polities. Narrative of cultural flourishing and diversification can be told for the Islamic world and Europe. They demonstrated how the educated and artistic groups in of those areas become increasingly aware of other cultures and yet at the same time affirmed the validity of their own ways. Although, Europeans and native people often borrowed ideas and practice from one another, these were not free and equal exchanges. Native Africans for example adapted to European miss ionizing efforts in resourceful ways, by creating mixed forms of religious worship, but they did so in response to richer and swallowed new territories, it was their culture not that of the local population that spread and diversified, absorbing ideas and practices from native Africans, but offering these contributors little share of either expanding sovereignty or increasing prosperity.
By the late eighteenth century, Europe’s cultural curiosity, like its commercial ambitions, propelled some of members into the rest of the world in search of information. Europeans were busily collecting information on everything from Sanskrit grammar to Polynesian wind currents. Based on the data they gathered, they created pragmatic principles for commercial and even colonial use, as well as a kind of empirical knowledge they felt could be extended to the rest of the world. In this era, the Europeans, internally divided and anxious is assert themselves culturally as well as economically, believed that they could understand all of nature and that European modes of thinking had universal applicability.
The cultural flourishing of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries took place in a world much changed since 1300. There were new dynastic. There were also many more people. By 1750, the world’s population had doubled from it level in 1300. There was also a much greater volume of long distance trade which generated a level of prosperity that would have among even the wealthiest dynast 500 years earlier. Yet, despite the unifying aspects of world trade, each culture flourished in its own way and was shaped by local educational institutions and local artistic conventions. Ruling classes disseminated values that drew from their cherished classical texts, crafted their vision of the world on the basic long established more and religious principles, mapped their geographies according to their traditional vision of the universe and wrote their separate histories. They could still celebrate their achievements in politics, economics, and culture without worrying about threats from within or from without.
1.4 Significant of the Study
Three early African kingdoms. Ghana, Benin and Zimbabwe. One of the earliest states is develop was Ghana, in West Africa. Caravan routes crossing the Sahara linked the region to Mediterranean cities first by house and oxen and then, after CE 300, by camel. Shortly after the city of Ghana, on the upper river Niger began to export gold, animal hides, pepper, ivory, and slaves in exchange for salt, cloth, pottery and other manufactured goods. Ghana grew increasing wealthy and, at the height of its success (around 1000), was probably the world’s largest gold producer. According to an Arab traveler who visited Ghana in 106s, the army numbered two hundred thousand, of whom forty thousand were armed with bows and arrows. This formidable fighting force was defeated a decade later by a nomadic army of Muslim Berbers. The Berbers moved north after a few years to attack morocco, but Ghana never fully recovered in part because the gold mines were beginning to peter out, and by 1300, the kingdom was only a memory.
During the time Ghana’s slow decline, the kingdom of Benin was beginning to grow in what is now modern day Nigeria (ancient Benin should not be confused with the modern African state of Benin). The period around 1000 saw the introduction of new food crops from East Asia and more sophisticated methods of metal working, making larger communities possible. The kingdom of Benin flourished between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, trading widely in paper and ivory. Its eventual decline was caused by the massive deportation of its male population in the nineteenth century by Arab and European slave traders. The kingdom was ruled by a hereditary male absolute monarch with the title of oba who had at his disposal a powerful army and an effective central government.
The oba’s central palace was adorned with a series of bronze plaques, showing the life of the court and military exploits. On one of these, we see an Oba flanked by the royal body guard. The Oba wears a high crown and a ceremonial cape, and is brandishing appear. The soldiers smaller in stature to indicate their lesser importance stands quietly. Among the sculptures discovered in the palace is a small portrait of a royal woman with necklace and braided hair, which offers insight into the lavish life at the Benin court. A the same time, the beauty of line and balance between decoration and naturalism give some idea of how much we have lost with the disappearance of so much African art.
Another bronze for Benin throws light on religious practices at court. It comes on an Ikegobo, or royal shrine, at which the Oba would have offered up sacrifices, either for favour received from the gods or in the hope of receiving future ones. The Oba appears both on the side and on the lid, again dominating the accompanying attendants. On the lid two meek leopards crouch humbly at his feet. Even the creature of the wild, acknowledge the supreme power of their master, while other animals range around the base.
The greatest ancient kingdom in South Africa was Zimbabwe. Bushmen paintings and tools show that the earliest people to occupy the site settled there in the stone age. Around 1300, its rulers ordered the erection of huge stone buildings surrounded by massive walls; the complex is now known as Great Zimbabwe. Finds in the ruins including beads and battery from the near East, Persia and even china, suggesting that the complex served as the base for a trading empire that must have been active well before the arrival of the Europeans some two centuries later.
Attempts to understand the function of Great Zimbabwe’s constructions are largely based on account of Portuguese traders who visited the site after its original inhabitants had abandoned it. The main building seems to have been a royal residence, with other structures perhaps for nobles, and great open ceremonial court. It has been calculated that at the height of its power the complex may have served as the centre for a population of some eighteen thousand persons with the ruling class living inside and the remainder in less permanent structures on the surrounding land.
Portuguese documents describe Great Zimbabwe as the capital of “the god kings called Monomotapa”. In the sixteenth century, Europeans used this name for two shona rulers; Mutata and Matope. The original inhabitants may well have been ancestors of the shona people, who are now among the groups living in modern Zimbabwe; part of shona beliefs is the idea that ancestral spirits take the form birds, often eagles. In one of the enclosed structures, perhaps an ancestral shrine, archaeologists discovered a large soapstone block crowned by a bird, with crocodile carved row of circles which, in later shona art, are called “eyes of the crocodile”.
All three kingdoms flourished long before the Europeans entered Africa’s interior. From the sixteenth century, with the beginning of the age European colonization and slave trade that accompanied it Europeans began to settle in coastal regions, which served as bases for exploring and exploiting Africa’s extraordinary natural resources. Islamic missionaries had carried their religion South ward across the Sahara desert centuries earlier. Now the arrival of the Europeans brought Christianity and under the influence of both religions, traditional patterns of ritual and ancestor worship began to die out.
1.5 Research Methodology:
African Literature although, very little written African literature existed before the twentieth century, there was a rich tradition of story telling, often in verse. Much of this was passed down by word of mouth, in the same way as the earliest works of western literature Homer’s iliad and Odyssey and a little has been preserved, written down by later generations using either the Arabic or western alphabet. Somalia had a rich poetic tradition. Raage ugaas eighteenth century), of the smali Ogaden clan, was popular for his wisdom and piety, whereas another Somali oral poet, Qamaan Bulhan (probably mid-nineteenth century) was well known for his philosophical and reflective verses some of which have become proverbial expressions.
One area that did develop an earlier written tradition was the coastal region of East Africa, where Swahili (an African language strongly influenced by Arabic) was and still is spoken. Beginning in the sixteenth century, Mulim traders brought with then to the coastal trading centers didactic and religious verse that was paraphrased in Swahili, with the Swahili version written between the lines of the Arabic text. Over time, as African writers began to use the western alphabet, they also adopted western languages, normally the one spoken by their colonial occupiers.
The most widely read and acclaimed African novelist of the twentieth century is probably Chinua Achebe, born in Nigeria in 1930; his family belonged to the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria. When Nigeria became independent in 1960, the country (an artificial creation of the British) began is divide. In 1967, the Igbo seceded is form the republic of Biafra, and Achebe, a passionate supporter of the Igbo, became minister of information in the new state. The Igbo breakaway was crushed in 1970, and the central Nigerian government seized control again. Achebe, overwhelmed by the death of many of his closer friends and the defeat of his people, chose to remain in Nigerian under the terms of the general amnesty for the rebels, and the war became a constantly recurring subject in much of his poetry.
The central theme of Achebe’s work is the conflict between two worlds: Western technology and values, and traditional African society. In most of his novels, the chief character is torn by these opposing forces and is often destroyed in the process. His first book ‘things fall apart’ which was published in 1958, forewarns us by its title that its story is tragic. When the British arrive in a traditional Igbo society, they undermine the values that have sustained it, and one of the community’s most respected leaders is driven to suicide, as “Things Fall Apart,” although, the disaster is implicit from the beginning, Achebe’s his tale.
In his next novel, No longer At Ease which also published in 1960 conflict became internalized. Its chief character, obi Okonkwo, has been sent by his community to England for his education, and on his return takes an uneasy position among the corrupt minor British bureaucrats governing local affairs. As the story unfolds, Achebe paints a bitter if ironic, picture of the colonial ruling classes, the be wilderment of the Africans and disastrous effect of both forces on the innocent young man in the middle obi’s plight is made even more poignant by the impact on him of two powerful aspects of western culture Christianity and romantic love.
Achebe wrote his novel in English and, as in the case of senghor, many of his fellows African writers have reproached him for writing in a colonial language. Achebe has always argued, however, that only western languages can carry the message to those who most need to hear it. Furthermore, by using European language, Africans can prove that their work can stand alongside western literature with honour. Above all, through out his long career Achebe has always believed that the retelling of the African experience is crucial. In one of his novels, an elder says: “it is the story that save our progeny from blundering like blind began into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind”.
1.6 Scope of the Study
Traditional African art in the modern period: in order to appreciate traditional African art, it is necessary to bear in mind its cultural context. Unlike most modern western artists, African artists generally have not produced world as aesthetic objects to be looked at, but rather fulfill a precise function in society and religion until the commercialization of recent times, the notion of a museum or gallery was alien to African art. Also, far from following western Ideas of “Inspiration” or progress, African art is firmly rooted in tradition. The identity of the individual creator is far less important than the authenticity of the object and, as a result, we know very few names of African artists. Whether it exalts the secular power of rules or the spiritual force of the spirit world and often the two overlap the sculpture or mask much evoke age old memories and association. At the same time, African artists are as open to the influence of changing times and the worlds around them are western artists.
The conflict between Achebe’s Igbo tradition and the newly arrived western forces, which lead to tragedy in his novels, is made visible in a pair of clay figures produced by Igbo artist for a shrine known as mbari house. The Igbo people used to construct houses made of adobe (Sun dried mud brick) in honour of their deities, which where then filled with sculptures and paintings; these mbari houses were never repaired but were allowed to crumble into duct, before a new one was built. Seated in an mbari house, the two figures seen represent the thunder god, Amadioha, and his wife. The God, symbol of worldly power wears the clothing of the forces of western colonialism, including sunhat, gun, and even necktie. His wife, as if representing senghor’s “mother Africa”, has a traditional hairstyle and body paint. To further enrich the visual impact of the pair the western style thunder God is also carrying a traditional spear and has tattoo markings on his face and both figures have white skin.
The same complexity of influences can be seen on many of the houses constructed by the Dogon people of the modern state of Mali the geographical and political states of modern Africa are the result, for the most part of western colonization, and their borders do not conform to original settlement patterns. The example illustrated shows tognna or “men’s house of words”, which served for the made assemblies debating the affairs of their community. The central unpainted post dates probably a female ancestor. The other post, added over time to replace earlier ones, show the growing exposure to external mainly Western influences, including a western style realistic sun, moon, star and weighting.
Many traditional African works of art celebrate the renewal of life and, simultaneously, its fragility. When woman of the luluwa people of what is now the Democratic Republic of the congo went a child but are unable to conceive one, they traditionally seek help from their ancestors by turning to a healer. The healer initiates them into a fertility cult, which aims to prevent miscarriage and safeguard newborn infants by reincarnating a female ancestor in the form of a wooden image known as a maternity figure. The statuettes have two short pegs; one attached to each foot, which are inserted into a vessel containing medicine, a hole is drilled into the top of the head in which the header inserts special hubs to cure infertility because, according to luluwa beliefs, the natural cavities of the skill are associated with divine insight into past and future experience.
The statue illustrated here is unusually large and elaborately carved, suggesting that it was made for a woman of high rank. The in ward contemplation of the expression accentuated by the large eyelids and down ward gaze, conveys the luluwa view of woman as mediator between nature and the world of the spirit. As is often the case in African culture, the same basic idea emerges else where with a different artistic style. The Yoruba people, whose culture developed in the region now made up of western Nigeria and the republic of Benin also revered the spiritual role of the mother and often symbolized it by using the moon as an emblem of the eternal feminine.
A painted wooden Yoruba Mask takes the form of a woman’s face. It was used in a special ritual dedicated to the mother, whose power is at its greatest at right, masks play a crucial role in the rituals of many different African peoples, providing a means of transforming humans into animals or spirits, blurring age and gender distinctions, and invoking supernatural forces. In most cases, the mask represents an ideal type, such as a young woman capable of bearing many children, seen hare as used in a ritual dance of the Baga sitemu in modern guinea. Our are occasions, a mask is carved to capture t he appearance of an individual.
1.7 The Impact of African Culture on the West.
Throughout the nineteenth century, a western nation continued to colonize Africa, a growing number of African artworks began to circulate among western collectors. One result was creating increasing interest in the study of anthropology, as scholars began to try to understand and distinguish among the various cultures. By the turn of the century, however, African artistic styles were directly influencing western art. Pablo Picasso, one of the towering figures of twentieth century art, returned throughout his long career to the African masks he had seen at a Paris exhibition which he became to collect. One of the first of his works to show their effect on his Avignon. Sixty years later, commissioned to produce a monumental sculpture for the city, of Chicago.
Perhaps an even more direct link between African culture and modern western culture is in music. As jazz derives ultimately from the music of the African ancestors of African Americans. Yet jazz only partially represents African music legacy, as the growing interest in world music continues to show.