Why do the men of Umuofia call a meeting at the beginning of Things Fall Apart?
At the beginning of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the men of Umuofia are called together into a meeting in order to discuss how they should move forward after an Umuofian woman is murdered in the marketplace in Mbaino. Umuofia is known across Nigeria as a fierce warrior culture, and the men contemplate war as a justified reaction to this murder. A respected orator delivers the news, and incites the crowd with his narrative:
“'Those sons of wild animals have dared to murder a daughter of Umuofia.' He threw his head down and gnashed his teeth.... The crowd then shouted with anger and thirst for blood” (11).
Mbaino and Umuofia are on the verge of war from this act. However, the two parties do eventually come to an amicable, peaceful compromise. Indeed, Umuofia passes down an ultimatum in which Mbaino must offer a virgin woman and a young man, later revealed as the young lad Ikemefuna, in order to appease the region and avoid war:
“But the war that now threatened was a just war. Even the enemy clan knew that. And so when Okonkwo of Umuofia arrived at Mbaino as the proud and imperious emissary of war, he was treated with great honor and respect, and two days later he returned home with a lad of fifteen and a young virgin” (12).
In short, the men of Umuofia call a meeting to discuss how they should retaliate against the murder of an Umuofian woman in Mbaino.