What is the importance of kola nut in this book?

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The kola nut is frequently brought up in Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart.  It is an important piece of Ibo culture.  Among other things it is an important part of Ibo ceremonies, but not only used for ceremonial purposes.  The Ibo people would use the kola nut as a sign of hospitality to guests.  In the novel, Okoye goes to collect a debt from Unoka, but before the two men got down to the business at hand, Unoka offered his guest kola as a sign of his hospitality.  The two men couldn't decide who should receive the honor of breaking the kola nut, and that scene helped Achebe lay out to his readers the importance of the kola nut.  The breaking of the nut also has some spiritual connections for the Ibo people as well.  This is indicated by the Ibo praying to their ancestors while breaking the kola nut.