Second-Class Citizen

by Buchi Emecheta

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What are some superstitious beliefs and traditions in Second-Class Citizen?

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In Second-Class Citizen, Buchi Emecheta includes and comments on various superstitious beliefs and traditions, making the point that the difference between a belief condemned as superstitious and one accepted as normal is often a matter of culture rather than reason.

At the beginning of the novel, Lawyer Nweze returns to Nigeria from the United Kingdom. He is greeted as a hero because the United Kingdom is seen by the Igbo people as an earthly paradise, and they assume that going there "must surely be like paying God a visit." This belief will later appear as a mere superstition to Adah, when she has the opportunity to experience life in Britain for herself.

At this point in the novel, however, Emecheta is more concerned with criticizing the traditional tribal superstitions of the Igbo people. Everyone is relieved to discover that Nweze has not brought a European wife with him, since they believe that this would have angered Oboshi, the river goddess, who would have cursed the tribe with leprosy. Adah notices, however, that Oboshi does not seem to mind Europeans drilling for oil in the riverbed. This omission implies a double standard which typifies superstitious beliefs throughout the novel.

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