The ancestral footpath that runs through the Ndume School's compound is very important to the nearby villagers as it connects the village shrine with their place of burial. The village priest, Ani, explains to Michael Obi that the ancestral spirits use the footpath to visit the villagers, and it is also the path of children coming to be born. These traditional beliefs are rooted in the culture of the villagers and have been practiced since the days of their great-grandfathers and passed down by their ancestors.
Unfortunately, Michael Obi is a proponent of modernity and wishes to eradicate all traditional beliefs. He views the ancestral footpath as a nuisance and refuses to reopen it after speaking with the village priest. Obi's decision comes back to haunt him when the villagers destroy the compound's beautiful landscape after a young woman dies giving birth in the village. Michael Obi's decision to close the ancestral footpath turns out to be wrong, and he is portrayed as an intolerant, overzealous headmaster. He should have taken Ani's advice and let the hawk and eagle perch by reopening the ancestral footpath.
To Obi, the path begins as a place where he feels that he must take a stand on the rules of the school, rules that he feels will help to make the village more modern and take the place of the beliefs that have governed the village before, beliefs he considers outdated and dangerous.
To the villagers, the path is immensely important as it links the current villagers to their past by linking them to the cemetery, it also serves to link them to future generations so that it is an absolutely vital part of their folklore and the way they feel about the village, etc.
Obi thinks that it is an absolute disgrace and decides that the ancestors of the village clearly don't need a footpath, they are buried aren't they? In the end, the villagers decide to take matters into their own hands and demolish part of the school and much of the grounds, demonstrating again the importance of the path and their unwillingness to go along with Obi's plans.