A Man of the People

by Chinua Achebe

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Who are the main characters in A Man of the People?

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Odili: This is the protagonist and narrator of the story. He is the son of a moderately prosperous district interpreter who after retirement is struggling financially due to having several wives and children and a limited pension. When we first encounter Odili, he is a schoolteacher, but over the...

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course of the novel he eventually becomes a politician. 

Chief Nanga: This is the main antagonist of the novel. He is a powerful and corrupt politician who has succeeded as a classic "big man" by a web of bribery, patronage, and personal connections. He initially offers to use his influence to help Odili and appears benevolent, but as the novel develops we see that his power has a darker side, including the use of violent intimidation. He eventually loses power as the result of a military coup.

Chief Simon Koko: He is the minister of overseas training and a crony of Chief Nanga. He initially is shown as someone who can help Odili obtain entrance to a post-graduate program in London. He is also deposed in the coup at the end of the novel. He is described as fat and jovial. 

Edna Odo: She is originally the girlfriend of Chief Nanga, but Odili decides to seduce her. He is initially unsuccessful but persists and by the end of the novel they are planning to get married.

Maxwell Kulamo: His is a successful lawyer and friend of Odili. He is described as mature and thoughtful and is active in politics. He is killed toward the end of the novel.

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Chinua Achebe's A Man of the People, a novel that takes place in an unnamed African country, follows two main characters and a number of secondary characters. The two main characters in the novel are the antagonist Chief Nanga, a corrupt politician, and Odili, the narrator and protagonist who is in conflict with Chief Nanga.

The main protagonist of A Man of the People is Chief Nanga, a man who becomes Minister of Culture after his country gains independence from white rulers. As Minister of Culture, it is Chief Nanga's duty to protect his countries traditions and culture, being called "a man of the people." However, preferring to use his political stature for self-serving reasons, Chief Nanga uses his wealth to bribe others and uses his political power to intimidate others.

In contrast to Chief Nanga is Odili, a young man whose only political ambitions are to be a teacher. And while he is seduced by Chief Nanga's promises of wealth, he eventually turns against Chief Nanga, realizing that Chief Nanga is corrupt and not at all as just as he pretends to be. Finally, toward the end of the novel, Odili raises his own political party in opposition of Chief Nanga so that he can combat the corruption that is destroying his country's new-found government.

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