Reviewed by: Arnold Agaba
No Longer at Ease is another interesting novel by Chinua Achebe. It is set in the 1960’s at the time of African independence from European colonialism.
The story is about an Igbo man, Obi Okonkwo who leaves his native home village of Umoufia for a British education on the scholarship of the Umoufia Progressive Party. When he reaches England, he ditches law for a course in English even though this does not go well with his sponsors. He returns to Nigeria after four years of schooling and lands himself a big job in the Nigerian colonial service. However, he comes from England with high ideals of fighting corruption but ends up in prison because of taking bribes.
In England, he meets a Nigerian girl called Clara Okeke studying at one of the colleges there and immediately falls in love although he does not make a good first impression on her. Despite that, they meet again on their way back to Nigeria and Obi tells her about his feelings for her.
Their relationship is ill-fated from the start because the girl is an ‘osu’, an outcast according to his Igbo culture and is therefore not supposed to marry her. Obis family refuses to agree to this marriage and his mother tells him that she will commit suicide if he marries Okeke.
No Longer at Ease continues the theme of Achebe’s first novel, Things Fall Apart. The clash between European culture and traditional culture has become entrenched during the long period of colonial rule.
Furthermore, Achebe depicts continuity between Ogbuefi Okonkwo, the protagonist of Things Fall Apart and his grandson Obi Okonkwo in No Longer at Ease.
Both men are confrontational, speak their minds and have some self destructive tendencies. However, this aggressive streak manifests itself in different ways. Whereas Okonkwo is a man of action and violence, Obi is a man of words and thoughts to the exclusion of actions.
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