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In Chinua Achebe's Marriage Is A Private Affair, Nnaemeka is a young Ibo man who is engaged to Nene, a teacher in a girls' school in Lagos. Accordingly, Nene wants Nnaemeka to share the news of their impending marriage with her future father-in-law. However, Nnaemeka is reluctant to write a letter home; he tells his fiance that it would be better for him to break the news to his father in person. He confesses to Nene that his father's reaction is probably not going to be a happy one.
Nnaemeka's humility is evident from the beginning when he asks his father's forgiveness for what he is about to tell him. True to Nnaemeka's apprehensions, his father becomes angry and indignant upon finding out that his son will not be marrying the woman specially chosen for him. Despite his father's wrath, Nnaemeka manages to hold on to his dignity. His humility is evident in the way he responds to his father's bitter recriminations. To have humility, one must first have wisdom. Wisdom is earned through an accumulation of life experience, knowledge, and self-awareness.
When Nnaemeka's father contends that all one needs in a wife is 'a good character and a Christian background,' Nnaemeka refrains from debating this point. Why? The text tells us that 'Nnaemeka saw there was no hope along the present line of argument.' From his knowledge, life experience, and capacity for self-awareness, Nnaemeka knows that some Ibo traditions are too entrenched in the older generation to summarily eradicate in one argument. In the face of any threat, established beliefs are often aggressively defended, and bigotry defies both logic and persuasion.
Furthermore, Nnaemeka's main aim was never to bring his father pain or to cause dissension in his tribe; he only wanted to marry the woman he loved.
Unlike his father, Nnaemeka's humility allows him to refrain from engaging in self-righteous declarations of condemnation and censure. When his father contends that intermarriage is 'Satan's work,' Nnaemeka merely responds with quiet confidence that his father will change his mind when he becomes acquainted with Nene. Nnaemeka's dignified humility allows him to avoid pointless disputes while staying true to his personal convictions.
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