In Things Fall Apart, how did the missionaries contribute to change in the village?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the biggest changes that the missionaries enact in Umuofia is the way in which they admit outcasts into the church and give them status, importance and identity. Such outcasts had been denied these three things by their traditional culture, but when word spreads about the church's policy towards the birth of twins, which was strictly taboo in the traditional culture, other outcasts decide to see whether the church would welcome them or not. Note what happens:

These outcasts, or osu, seeing that the new religion welcomed twins and such abominations, thought that it was possible that they would also be received. And so one Sunday two of them went into the church. There was an immediate stir; but so great was the work the new religion had done among the converts that they did not immediately leave the church when the outcasts came in.

Although the leader of the new church, Mr. Kiaga, has to stand up for the rights of these former outcasts, it is clear that the church in its policy of accepting those who had formerly been shunned and rejected by the traditional Ibo society created a massive stir, as these outcasts were considered to be forbidden and a malignant presence. The outcasts were not permitted to marry and have children, and had to grow their hair long as a sign of their status. The church, in giving them new status and telling them to shave their hair off, contravened all of this, and thus this created massive conflict within Umuofia. However, the seeds of change were planted.

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