Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 6

On the second day of the celebration, everybody is at the village playing field to watch the wrestling challenge between men of the village and men of a neighboring village. The initial matches, between two groups of young men fifteen or sixteen years of age, provide entertainment and excitement before the main events. One of the successful young men is Maduka, the child of Okonkwo's great companion Obierika. Neighbors interact each other and tension accumulates until matches between the experienced wrestlers start.

The present priestess of the Oracle, Chielo, talks coolly with Ekwefi about Okonkwo's assault on her and about Ekwefi's girl Ezinma, of whom Chielo appears to be especially affectionate.

As the drums thunder, two groups of twelve men provoke each other. A lot of people expect the last match between the two biggest warriors in the villages to be uneventful as a result of the comparable styles of the two wrestlers. Be that as it may, the audience is excited when the local wrestler, Okafo, exploits one of his adversary's bad moves and all of a sudden defeats him. The group carries the victorious Okafo on their shoulders with jubilation as they move away.


The display of the wrestling matches indicates the value an importance that is put on physical readiness and stability in the Igbo culture. During times similar to the present games, the wrestling occasions — even in their violent nature — give tremendous joy to the observers who consider the victors as legends and frequently carry them on their shoulders. Numerous years before, Okonkwo lifted his name as a competent and an accomplished wrestler by crushing a rival who had wrestled undefeated for a long time. 

This scene also shows the attachments of groups and family relationship among individuals from the village, as in the short communication between Ekwefi and her neighbor Chielo, the priestess of the Oracle Agbala.

The discussion between Ekwefi and Chielo includes a few baffling references to Ezinma:

Chielo: And how is my daughter Ezinma?

Ekwefi: She has been well for some time now. Perhaps she has come to stay.

Chielo: I think she has. How old is she now?

Ekwefi: She is about ten years old.

Chielo: I think she will stay. They usually stay if they do not die before the age of six.

Ekwefi: I pray she stays.

With the exception of the marketplace and social affairs, for example, the Feast of the New Yam, the women get little chance to visit different villagers who are not in their family. For example, take note of the worry that Ekwefi has for Ezinma, and Chielo’s specific affection for Ezinma, whom she calls "daughter." This scene suggests that Chielo, the priestess, may be aware of Ezinma's destiny bust she keeps the lid on it.

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