Using two direct quotes, what are the negative effects of colonization in Achebe's Things Fall Apart?

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In the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the native people are slowly experiencing the effects of colonialism as western missionaries and foreigners infiltrate Umuofia. Being told through the lens of Okonkwo , a bull-headed and change-resistant man, the reader is privy to the negative effects of colonization,...

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In the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the native people are slowly experiencing the effects of colonialism as western missionaries and foreigners infiltrate Umuofia. Being told through the lens of Okonkwo, a bull-headed and change-resistant man, the reader is privy to the negative effects of colonization, in spite of the potential benefit that can come from it.

It was in fact one them who in his zeal brought the church into serious conflict with the clan a year later by killing the sacred python, the emanation of the god of water.

This quote explains one of the less grievous negative aspects of colonization—simply, the lack of understanding of other cultures. The man in question was a recent convert to the Christian church and had been cast out from the people of Umuofia as a result. In his zeal for Christianity and because of the ignorance of the Christian teachings towards the importance of the python to the Umuofians, the man killed a python. When people from a colonizing country do not understand the customs, they can cause serious harm.

As soon as the District Commissioner left, the head messenger, who was also the prisoners' barber, took his razor and shaved off all the hair on the men's heads. They were still handcuffed, and they just sat and moped.

The above quote is referring to the actions that happened after a group of representatives went to visit the District Commissioner. The shaving of the head was particularly disrespectful for them, and it is a symbol of how the colonizers did not respect the culture and the damage that can be done in those situations. When hotheaded people come together without respect for each other, damage and dishonor occur.

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One negative effect of the British colonial takeover is the institution of alien systems of governance, including courts and prisons. Okonkwo returns from his exile to find that the District Commissioner is using the hated “court messengers,” nicknamed kotma, to bring people to trial. They roam the countryside and capture people who have broken “the white man’s law,” meaning they have done things that the British regard as criminal. The trials have resulted in some of Okonwko’s contemporaries being imprisoned for such actions. They are beaten by the kotma, who work as guards, and forced to do menial labor.

They were beaten in the prison by the kotma and made to work every morning clearing the government and fetching wood for the white Commissioner and the court messengers. Some of these prisoners were men of title who should be above such mean occupation.

Another negative aspect was the behavior of some Christian missionaries. The Reverend Mr. Smith, for example, strictly interprets the Bible and denies sacraments to Christian Igbo people who, along with their “heathen” relatives, uphold traditional beliefs and customs. Mr. Smith almost causes a “holy war” by giving sanctuary to Enoch, a man who killed an ancestral spirit. A group of Umofia’s elders, spokesmen of “the ancestors who administered justice,” enter the church and encourage Smith to leave or to stay and desist from his conversion efforts. Ajofia tells him through the interpreter,

“Tell him to leave this house and leave us alone. . . . But this shrine which he built must be destroyed. We shall no longer allow it in our midst. It has bred untold abominations. . . .”

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Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart portrays the tragic story of Okonkwo, a strong-willed warrior who is unwilling to adapt to the changing social conditions that are the result of colonialism. White Christian missionaries enter Umuofia and their influence rapidly changes the face of the region. Tribal elders initially treat Christian missionaries derisively, but soon see the error in their ways:

“And even in the matter of religion there was a growing feeling that there might be something in it after all, something vaguely akin to method in the overwhelming madness” (178).

Along with Christianity, white settlers also bring in European models of government into Umuofia. The District Commissioner quickly alters the judicial system of the area. The European judicial system disregards the customs of the natives, and imposes an arbitrary set of rules on the tribes of the area. Okonkwo grows increasingly frustrated at these elements of the community, and this drives him to suicide. Obierika blames the District Commissioner, and white settlers in general, for Okonkwo’s death

“That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself, and now he will be buried like a dog” (208).

Thus, the negative elements of colonialism are pervasive and alter the customs and traditions of Umuofia.

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