Things Fall Apart Terms

Cowries Shells used as currency
Egwugwu “Ancestral spirits” that troll in masks to hide their true identities. They rule over trials and play major roles in numerous ceremonies
Kola nut An food item typically broken to start a feast or occasion. To break the nut is an honor.
Ekwe drum Drums used primarily for ceremonial purposes, for ex. the wrestling match
Palm wine A drink tapped from the palm, this wine, like the kola nut, is intertwined with laws of hospitality. Large quantities of wine given as a gift show ones respect. ex. punishment of Uzuwulu, wedding presents
“Just war” War that has been deemed appropriate by the Oracle of Agbala. Any war that has not been dubbed just is considered practically un-winnable
Agbala Literally woman. Used as an insult, and also in reference to the oracle of Agbala. “It” might be a hermaphrodite
Evil Forest A sacred/cursed lot of land present in each village/tribe in which is the home of societal excrement. Dishonored dead are buried here, and the Christians were given the land to build on
Yams Not currency, but an equally if not more impressive mark of power. A man’s crop, and vast quantities shows influence and hard work
Seed yams Yams used for their seeds
Sharecropping Agreement in which one man will loan his land (yams, in this case) to another to plant. The crop yield will later be divided with the majority (2/3) going to the one who did no work. How Okonkwo worked his way up
Chi A man’s personal god. More important than what the chi is its relation to the dictation of destiny. How much the Chi controls ones fate seems to flip flops as Okonkwo’s fortunes do. The Chi is one of the many tribal beliefs
Week of Peace A virtual ceasefire to the domestic violence (and all fighting) that goes on in the tribes. Okonkwo breaks it only to face the wrath of Agbala
Ilo The village green where many of the events take place
Machete Obvious symbol of power, yet that symbolism may also suggest the gradual antiquation and dilapidation of the tribes as even with such weapons there were rendered helpless before the DC. Also note Efulefu
Locusts Blotted out the sky, and although initially bringing good fortune as they were a source of food, they may have foreshadowed the dark cloud of the white man that would pass over Nigeria. Could the locusts be representing colonists? (see passage in 7)
Bride price How much a girl to marry is “worth”, the bride’s father makes the first offer in broomsticks, then the suitor’s father counter offers and so forth until they agree
Ozo society and titles A society that everyman aspires to, as only those within the society can receive titles. There are a total of four titles, and, like yams, the more the better.
Obanji A cursed child that will always return to the mother’s womb to torment her
Iyi ewa The “spirit stone” of the Obanji, that which they are tied to. Finding said stone is essential for exorcism
Umunna Kin or kinsmen
Market Day An indicator of time for all of the tribes, multiple market days, each with a different name and purpose. Recall the stir that was caused when the converts were kept out of the market.
Iron horse Bicycle of the missionaries
Mother Kite story Moral: Beware that which is silent. Refers to the missionary who was killed in Abame and the slaughter that followed
Efulefu The dregs of society, they have sold the machetes and wear their sheaths into battle. Often turn to Christianity
Idemili Goddess of rain and rivers
Jesu Kristi Jesus Christ
“Living fire begets cold impotent ash” Analyze on your own. I see a dual meaning, first, it is an obvious reference to Nwoye and Okonkwo, and second, it could refer to the death of the previous vivacity – akin to the Frost poem “nothing gold can stay”All good will come to an end
“The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of Lower Niger” The title of the DC’s book, it is an obvious reference to the supposed barbarity of the tribes. Because we know this is not the case, the colonists’ pejorative nature stemming from ignorance and regarding the tribes is highlighted
Osu Forsaken outcasts who turn to Christianity
The sacred python Supposedly killed by an Osu, the python was considered a god in stature, and accordingly, its murder was an affront to the tribal ways
Cotma (Kotma) African messengers of the court, beat Okonkwo, steal from the villagers, and eventually get their due punishment
Chukwu The most powerful of the tribal gods, Chukwu’s status is akin to that of the Christian god. In Akunna’s talks with Mr. Brown, a semi-monotheistic ideology is exposed revolving around this deity that is akin to that of Christianity
The body of Okonkwo Found hanging from a tree, the body is no longer pure, but rather evil, and the land it is buried in must be cleansed

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