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Nwakibie in Things Fall Apart

Instructor: Liz Breazeale
Nwakibie is a character who plays a big role in the life of the protagonist of ''Things Fall Apart'', Chinua Achebe's fascinating postcolonial novel. In this lesson, learn about Nwakibie and his part in the novel.

Who Is Nwakibie?

If you were wealthy, would be more inclined to help out someone less fortunate if you knew they were a hard worker and would make good use of your gift to sustain themselves?

Nwakibie is a character in Chinua Achebe's groundbreaking, well-known novel about postcolonial Nigeria, Things Fall Apart. Published in 1958, the novel is widely-read even today for its eye-opening, unflinching portrayal of British colonization told from the perspective of a native Igbo tribesman.

Nwakibie is a wealthy man in the village of Umuofia where the novel takes place. He farms yams and is very prosperous and successful, which means he's well-respected and well-known around the village. Many young men come to him for help, but he usually refuses because he thinks they're lazy. As you'll soon see, though Nwakibie is wealthy, he's also generous to Okonkwo, the novel's protagonist, and has a strong desire to help the young man make his start.

Nwakibie the Benefactor

Early in the novel, when Okonkwo's backstory is being discussed, Nwakibie makes his appearance. Way back when Okonkwo was a young man and his father was old and sick, he was trying to make a name for himself and succeed. He wanted to become wealthy and well-respected in Umuofia - totally unlike his father, who was lazy and, in Okonkwo's mind, weak. Okonkwo's father was poor and left Okonkwo no inheritance. No land, no money, no crops. Absolutely nothing.

So you can just imagine poor Okonkwo's predicament, can't you? Young, poor, and with the embarrassing reputation of his father hanging over him. What's a guy to do? Well, luckily Okonkwo is far more hardworking and brave than his father, because these traits enable him to go up to one of the wealthiest men in town, Nwakibie, and ask for some seed yams so he could begin to cultivate his own crops.

Nwakibie gives Okonkwo the seed yams, even more than he asked for, all because he knows Okonkwo is a hard worker and will do whatever it takes to grow his crops. Nwakibie is clearly a guy who values honesty and work ethic, which means he respects Okonkwo. In fact, he even tells Okonkwo that he's learned to be stingy with his yams, and not to give them out to any old man who asks, because, basically, the youth of the tribe have grown lazy, and don't want to work hard at farming. In a very generous gesture, Nwakibie gives Okonkwo twice the number of seed yams he asks for: 800 instead of 400. That's a lot of yams!

Nwakibie gives Okonkwo twice the number of yams he asks for
Yams

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