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Things Fall Apart




I thought this exchange was interesting- you can see the Christian virus at work through a missionary. It has no interest in the truth of what Akunna is saying, only in destroying the native religion. Excerpt from Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart which is set in the colonial era in present day Nigeria:



'You say that there is one supreme God who made heaven and earth,' said Akunna on one of Mr. Brown's visits. 'We also believe in Him and call Him Chukwu. He made all the world and the other gods.'


'There are no other gods,' said Mr. Brown. 'Chukwu is the only God and all the others are false. You carve a piece of wood- like that one' (he pointed at the rafters from which Akunna's carved Ikenga hung), 'and you call it a god. But it is still a piece of wood.'


"Yes,' said Akunna. 'It is indeed a piece of wood. The tree from which it came was made by Chukwu, as indeed all minor gods were. But He made them for His messengers so that we could approach Him throught them. It is like yourself. You are the head of your church.'


'No,' protested Mr. Brown. 'The head of my church is God Himself.'


'I know,' said Akunna, 'but there must be a head in this world among men. Somebody like yourself must be the head here.


'The head of my church in that sense is in England.'


'That is exactly what I am saying. The head of your church is in your country. He has sent you here as his messenger. And you have also appointed your own messengers and servants. Or let me take another example, the District Commsisioner. He is sent by your king.'


'They have a queen,' said the interpreter on his own account.


'Your queen sends her messenger, the District Commisioner. He finds that he cannot do the work alone and so he appoints kotma to help him. It is the same with God, or Chukwu. He appoints the smaller gods to help Him because His work is too great for one person.'


'You should not think of Him as a person,' said Mr. Brown. 'It is because you do that you imagine He must need helpers. And the worst thing about it is that you give all the worship to the false gods you have created.'


'That is not so. We make sacrifices to the little gods, but when they fail and there is no one else to turn to we go to Chukwu. It is right to do so. We approach a great man through his servants. But when his servants fail to help us, then we go to the last source of hope. We appear to pay greater attention to the little gods but that is not so. We worry them more because we are afraid to worry their Master. Our fathers knew that Chukwu was the Overlord and that is why many of them gave their children the name Chukwuka - "Chukwu is Supreme."


'You said one interesting thing,' said Mr. Brown. 'You are afraid of Chukwu. In my religion Chukwu is a loving Father and need not be feared by those who do His will.'


"But we must fear Him when we are not doing His will,' said Akunna. 'And who is to tell His will? It is too great to be known.'


In this way Mr. Brown learned a good deal about the religion of the clan and he came to the conclusion that a frontal attack on it would not succeed. And so he built a school and a little hospital in Umuofia.





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