13 December 2013
The Power of Religion “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe deals with positive and negative effects of missionary work in Africa. This book details the influence of the Christian missionaries when they try to evangelize and convert the Igbo people. Is it the correct thing to do, trying to force a different religion onto people or should the the choice of religion be left up to the individual? One thing that is apparent, the missionaries could have had a positive or negative effect on the culture through their influence and perseverance. The Igbo village was a male run society. The women did everything from cooking, cleaning and caring for the children "emphasizes female characteristics and critiques [the] inflated sense of masculinity" (Bennett 2). While the men farmed, gathered for meetings and went to war. The traditions of the Igbo village is what kept them going. Each year they would grow yams which lead to, "he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was a very great man indeed" (Achebe 33). Many cultures have traditions like that and the Igbo were no exception. When the Christian missionaries came, everything would change and never be the same due to the difference in religions.
Before the Christian missionaries came to the Igbo village, the community was very rich in culture and religion. "Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings."(Achebe 5). The strong culture and traditions held the Igbo culture together but the African tribe were considered to be savages by the surrounding people and looked down upon. When the Christian missionaries came along, they thought that the Igbo people were inferior and wrong in what they believed. It is believed that the missionaries completely overlooked any cultural richness that existed in Nigeria.
The Igbo people had strong religious beliefs, even though they are different from the European religion. For example, they believe that "there is one supreme god who made heaven and earth...[they]...call him Chukwu. He made all the world and the other gods" (Achebe 179). This is very similar to what the Christian missionaries believe. The missionaries could have totally overlooked this part of their culture and this could be believed to be an example of a destructive attribute of the missionaries because the missionaries were telling the Igbo people that they were wrong and worshiping false gods.
Even though the Christian missionaries are, in a way, denouncing the Igbo people, religion it is supposed to be spread. The missionaries wanted to help the Igbo people and save them from the religion they believed was wrong, “the Igbo people fear what they do not understand” (Shmoop). They were not ready for that invasion and very taken back when the missionaries arrived and