What African culture is present in the short story "Civil Peace" by Chinua Achebe?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One reference to Nigerian African culture found in Chinua's short story titled "Civil Peace" is Biafran money. The term Biafran refers to the Republic of Biafra, a state in south-eastern Nigeria that seceded from Great Britain, the primary cause of the Nigerian Civil War. The war was unsuccessful, and the United Nations demanded a cease-fire at the request of Biafra's President Ojukwu upon Biafra's immediate surrender to Great Britain ("Biafra").

Biafran money is mentioned a couple of times in the story. First, Biafran money is mentioned in the beginning when immediately after the war, the protagonist Jonathan starts using his salvaged bicycle as a taxi for "ferrying camp officials and their families across the four-mile stretch to the nearest tarred road" for a "small pile of Biafran money." Later, he has the good fortune of being given the opportunity to sell his Biafran money for British pounds.

A second reference to Nigerian African culture can also be seen in the beginning of the story when Jonathan ventures back to the capital city of Enugu and sees that his house is still standing, or more specifically, "his little zinc house of no regrets built with mud blocks." In Nigeria, the Niger River frequently floods. Once the waters recede, mud is left behind, plenty of mud for making mud bricks. Hence, the poorest of Nigeria will have houses made of mud bricks, topped with metal roofs made of zinc ("Nigeria: Building homes, building resilience").

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