Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 15

In Okonkwo's second year in exile,  Obierika, his wonderful friend, and two other young men visit him in Mbanta. After the first experience with Uchendu, Obierika delivers sad news about the village of Abame.

One day a white man rode into the town on a bike, which the villagers called an "iron horse." Initially, the people fled from the man, however, the ones who were less fearful went up to him and touched his white skin. The elders of Abame consulted their Oracle, which disclosed to them that the white man would bring poverty to their family, and others were en route, coming like locusts. Challenging the villagers, the white man appeared to be just to repeating a word like "Mbaino," maybe the name of the village he was searching for. They killed the white man and attached his bike to their holy tree.

Weeks after the event, three other white men and a group of locals — " ordinary men like us" — went to the village while most villagers were on their farms. After the guests saw the bike on the tree, they disappeared. A few weeks after, the entire village was summoned to the Abame market and afterward surrounded by a group of men of men; they shot and killed nearly everybody. The village is now isolated. There is nobody.

Okonkwo and Uchendu concur that the Abame villagers were on the wrong to kill a man about whom they knew nothing. They have heard stories about white men with firearms and drinks and taking slaves away over the ocean, yet they never trusted the stories.


Go back to chapter 8 and recall the reference to the white men as lepers.  In the current chapter, Obierika gives an account of how the first white man seen in Abame is received with curiosity, with particular attention of the villagers being his skin color and the bike. At the point when the villagers consult their Oracle, however, it predicts that white men will come and will spell doom for the community. It is after the consultation of the Oracle that the villagers of Abame decide that the best decision is for them to kill the white man, a decision described by Uchendu a highly unfortunate. In spite of the fact that Okonkwo concurs that the men of Abame were wrong for killing the white man, his reaction, "They should have armed themselves with their guns and their machetes even when they went to the market," indicates that Okonkwo is going against the custom of his community which commands that before resorting to violence, all the avenues for peaceful solution should have been exhausted. The Oracle never permitted a war with the white men, yet it cautioned the villagers that the white men would cause destruction like "locusts." Ironically, the white men speak to the locusts’ arrival from Revelation in the Bible; the village will be destroyed completely, and among the villagers who will survive, no good thing will come to them.

Without a doubt, the response of the white man to the killing of one of their own is unjustified and out of proportion. It is unlikely that wiping out an entire village is justice to the killing of one man. In any case, this unnecessary activity is Achebe's method for starting the novel's portrayal of whites and they're abusive, frequently clueless attitude towards the Africans. From this time, a wedge has been knocked between the whites and the Africans, and future clash appears to be unavoidable.

The chapter ends with a light-hearted exchange that seems ominous only when the ending of the novel is revealed:

Okonkwo: I do not know how to thank you.

Obierika: I can tell you. Kill one of your sons for me.

Okonkwo: That will not be enough.

Obierika: Then kill yourself.

Okonkwo: Forgive me. I shall not talk about thanking you anymore.

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