When I originally read about the traditions and rituals in the book, I thought that it was crazy. I believed that there was nothing in our society that compared to the sacredness of the kola nut. Even though I found the kola nut to be an incredibly interesting symbol, I found it very hard to relate to because our society has lost a sense of our traditions and rituals. For example, we have taken for granted the special relationship of marriage. This was a traditions that was never broken many years ago.
However, divorce rates have gone up in the last thirty years. As the country has evolved, we have lost the sense of our old traditions. That is why I found it very hard to believe that we had something as sacred as a kola nut in our society. From the beginning of Things Fall Apart, it was quickly established that the kola nut was an extremely sacred part of the Ibo culture. Okonkwo was considered one of the most powerful men in the entire society. He was a big, strong man who believed that he was the best thing that ever happened to the world.
One night, he had a very wealthy man and his family over. “He took a pot of palm-wine and a cock to Nwakibie… He presented a kola nut and an alligator pepper, which were passed round for all to see and then returned to him. He broke the nut saying: We shall all live. We pray for life, children, a good harvest, and happiness” (19). This simple part of life brings the entire culture together. The kola nut shows a sign of respect and also is considered a holy object to pray with.
Whenever a person welcomes another into their house, one of the things they can expect is a kola nut as a sign of respect. The tone of this quote is very relaxed because Okonkwo is trying to welcome his guests into his home. However, the prayer is very powerful because the people in the community believe that when Okonkwo says a prayer, it will come true because he is so well respected. Even though this was very powerful, the literary feature of irony is in this quote too. In the next couple pages, Okonkwo breaks the Week of Peace by punching one of his wives.
The irony is that Okonkwo had everyone pray for life and happiness, something he went against when breaking another tradition. Now that I’m reflecting on the traditions and rituals in the book compared to the one’s in our society. I realize that there may be some similarities. In one of my journals, talked about the importance of the kola nut and the Week of Peace in their culture. In the journal, I tried to compare the Week of Peace to Passover, with the fact that everyone in the culture has a mission they need to accomplish for a week.
After finishing the book, I realized that I did not need to find a direct correlation, but an example of where the responses to the event might be the same. For example when Okonkwo punched his wife, the priest took away his kola nut and said that he did not deserve to be respected in the community. This was the point of the book where Okonkwo started to lose his machoness. When I thought of an event in our society that someone would lose a ton of respect for, I thought of the most precious symbol of our country: the flag.
If someone decides to burn the United States of America’s flag, they will be shamed and completely disrespected for the rest of their life. I realized that the correlation between the traditions of the Week of Peace and the flag occurred when the traditions were defied. Another correlation that I made through my project was that our society has a similar tradition to what the kola nut. When Okonkwo had a family over, that family brought a kola nut to show respect and thankfulness for being invited into Okonkwo’s home.
In our society when we are invited to someone’s house, society suggests that that family should bring a dish or another form of a gift to say thank you for being welcomed into a home. If Okonkwo was not given the kola nut, he may feel disrespected because that is what society says to do. If someone does not bring a food dish to my house when we invite them for dinner, 1 would consider that to be a little disrespectful. Through my creative project on Things Fall Apart, I now realize that traditions such as the Week of Peace and kola nut are present in our society.