Sunday, November 18, 2007

A comparison of Ibo and Western Culture

2. Which elements of that culture are most comfortable to us? Which most resemble elements of our (your) culture? Which seem more foregn, more difficult to accept?
While reading Things Fall Apart it is easy to see how the different cultures of the world live their lives according to certain cultural and social norms. While I was reading the book many aspects of the Ibo culture stood out to me and the only thing I could compare it to was my own. Even though the Ibo culture has its differences, there are some aspects that are almost identical and can be attributed to the overall human culture. I had many mixed feelings while examining the Ibo culture and they can classified into three categories: Comfortable, Resemble, and Foreign.
The comfortable aspect of Ibo culture is what parallels our own culture. One similarity is the residential life. The Ibo live in villages with their families just like us. They do not have huge homes with electricity, but they live in man made houses and use lanterns for light. They live in modest accommodations that we can relate to, and that we are accepting of. Most of the Ibo culture that is comfortable to us is the aspects of their culture that resemble ours. We can relate even more to the elements that are similar because it is something we do in some general way.

An aspect of Ibo culture that is very similar to ours is the waging of wars. The Ibo are said to be very good warriors and this is much like the American culture because America has the best military in the world. Both of our communities do not always go to war even though we are good fighters. The Ibo resemble our culture in this way because they first offer the other tribes the option of paying compensation fees. Okonkwo goes to another tribe and gets a virgin and a young boy as a way of avoiding war. Okonkwo is sent to the neighboring village because the elders told him to go and sent him as the village’s representative. This aspect closely resembles our political customs and can easily be seen as a parallel to our two different cultures. The village also has leaders. The leaders of the village are the elders that have gained rank, and this is very similar to our own culture, but instead we have politicians that were picked to be our leaders. Another similarity is the food the Ibo people eat. Except for a few items such as locust, our culture, like the Ibo, eats meats, eggs, and yams. We have much more options when it comes to food, but most of the Ibo food does not seem foreign to us.
The Ibo also have a similar personal life to us. They get married and have children that they raise just like we do. The only difference is we do not marry multiple wives. The mothers nurture the children just like mothers in our culture do everyday. The Ibo people also have celebrations and holidays. Their holidays and celebrations are not the same as ours, but they resemble a time when people get together and feast. The Ibo have many different rituals than we do, and this is only one thing we see as foreign when relating their culture to western culture.
One of the first things that struck me as foreign and unacceptable in Ibo culture is the fact the men are allowed to beat their wives as long as it is not during the weak of peace. In western culture this is very inappropriate and deserves punishment. The Ibo also do not have a real justice system like western culture. The people are just punished by the town elders or prophets. This even goes further into another foreign aspect of their culture: the communication of gods through prophets and oracles that are given special treatment. The Ibo just obey their gods without thinking about what is rational. For them what is rational is whatever the gods want.
There are also many foreign aspects to their personal lives. The Ibo men are allowed to have multiple wives. This is not done in western culture because for most men one wife is enough and often almost to much to handle. The Ibo women also are portrayed as lower than men. They are given away as brides and do not have a choice who they marry. The women are also given away very young and start to bear children at ages as young as 16.
One foreign aspect of the Ibo culture that is pretty cool is a person does not inherit debts from a parent. A person is judged solely on what they have accomplished in life rather than what their parents or family has done. This is one of the coolest aspects because like Okonkwo, if your family is lazy, then you can make a name for yourself by working hard.
Overall there are some aspects of the Ibo culture that I can accept, but there are some I will never be able to accept. I will never think it is justified to kill two babies just because they are twins. I will also never think it is justified to beat your wife. However I do agree that a person should not be judged by what his father or family is like, but by what he or she is like.
882 words w/o question

1 comment:

LCC said...

Pearl--good job sorting out the aspects of Ibo culture which allow us to see them as similar to us in their family lives, desires for success, and basic human nature. Also in noting the ways in which viewing their culture makes us uncomfortable. I'm reading a novel right now set in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban, and I'm finding myself revolted by the ways in which that regime oppressed women. It's harder to accept cultural values when they involve treating some people as inherently less worthy than others.