Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Igbo World, by Victor C. Uchendu

I am reading this essay to help prepare myself to read Things Fall Apart. These are the things that stood out to me...

  • "The Igbo world, in all its aspects--material, spiritual, and sociocultural--is made intelligible to Igbo by their cosmology, which explains how everything came into being." pg 225
  • Essay is concerned with "cosmology as a system of prescriptive ethics" & "cosmology as an action system." 
  • Igbo believe in two worlds: the world of man & the spirit world
  • Lineages continue on after death
  • "An Igbo without [...] a partilineage--is an Igbo without citizenship both in the world of man and in the world of the ancestors."
  • The dead are reincarnated
  • Must keep the cosmic balance. Igbo believe that they can manipulate cosmic forces to their benefit.
  • "They achieve this balance, for instance, through divination, sacrifice, appeal to the counter-vailing powers of their ancestors (who are their invisible father-figures) against the powers of the malignant, and non-ancestral spirits, and socially, through constant realignment in their social groupings."
  • Relationships exist through the motivation of self-interest. Each party in the relationship needs to be mutually beneficial to the other.
  • No individual or spirit is self-sufficient. "Human interdependence is a constant theme in the folklore of the Igbo."
  • "Since the need to get along well with everyone is such a major concern in interpersonal relations, a properly socialized Igbo is one who is able to interact with others, to speak out his mind freely even if it hurts to do so. Getting on well with neighbors does not mean 'letting them along.'"
  • "The Igbo are status seekers." Status symbols can be bought.
  • On their death beds, Igbo think more about their status in the afterlife than their death.
  • It is necessary for people to live "transparent lives"
  • Many social acts are done in the presence of witnesses to achieve this transparency.
  • "Solitude is regarded as a mark of wickedness, of evil design."
  • "It is man who 'spoils' the country and not the spirits." It is the people and not spirits who make a country 'wicked'"
  • "The Igbo world is based on a equalitarian principle. Equality or near equality ensures that no one group of persons acquires too much control over the life of others."
  • The Igbo society is a highly competitive one.
  • "The Igbo leader 'emerges': he is not born or made."
  • Igbo leaders are giving minimal power, "yet is expected to give maximum service in return."

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