Characteristics of Okwonko in Things Fall Apart

This essay aims to reveal the significance of Okwonko, the central character in Chinua Achebe’s, Things Fall Apart. It exposes the characteristics of Okwonko, the village hero by how he relates with his family, friends and community. In addition, it traces his love for his community, passion for war and violence. Finally, it displays his hopelessness when his community accepts the British.

In his most acclaimed book, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe depicts Okwonko as a hero. The story is set in colonial Africa under the rule of British imperialists in Nigeria. Okwonko is man who believes in African values and customs, but he has a big ego. He treats his mates and family (Nwoye) arrogantly and shamefully.

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Okwonko thinks he should be the leader of his community. He also feels Africans should not imitate white man’s traditions and customs. In addition, Okwonko thinks women are supposed to be slaves to men as revealed in the way he treats them violently. When finally his community embraces the ways of the white man, Okwonko commits suicide to show his hopelessness.

In behaving this way, Okwonko is proving his manhood in a society that does not respect women. He also calls his mates ‘women’. It reveals that he is a boastful man who does not value his friends. Okwonko is also obsessed with war and violence. This is revealed the way he picks quarrels with his friends and challenges them for a fight.

He also beats up his wives and children (Nwoye) whenever they have done wrong. On the other hand, Okwonko is a community defender. This is by sticking to the African customs and traditions. Finally, in killing himself, Okwonko reveals the despair that engulfed most communities when the colonialists succeeded in corrupting the minds of Africans.

Okwonko depicts many African characteristics in his behavior. First, his passionate defense of his community reveals Africans had their own ways of living. They had their methods of schooling and entertainments in the form of village duels where Okwonko became a hero by beating his rival. Second, the way he treats his wives without respect and decorum show Africans who looked down upon women. Their roles were only to cook and sire children.

Third, by treating his friends arrogantly, Okwonko displays a community that believed in manhood. A man had to stand up to be counted. Lastly, on taking his own life, he becomes the voice of hopeless Africans who detested the imperialists. Generally, Okwonko is a symbol of uncolonised Africa.

Okwonko does all these to make an African point. First, when he bullies his wives and sons in the homestead, he reveals to the white man that, in Africa, a man is the head of the family. Second, when he calls his mates ‘women’ and challenges them for war, Okwonko proves to his community heroism and strength is the epitome of a village warrior.

Okwonko is ready to defend his community at all costs. Third, his hatred for British colonizers and adoration for African values e.g. their own governance, education and entertainments, the village hero confirms to the white man the superiority of Africa. Finally, in committing suicide, Okwonko demonstrates to his community a terrible hopelessness of accepting the British values and customs.

In conclusion, Chinua Achebe aims at revealing Africa that had it forms of education, governance and entertainments before coming of the British. Through Okwonko, the writer reveals the village fights, the family traditions and the challenges of Africa. Heroism of Okwonko is the courage of Africa during the colonial period. In addition, his destruction is the hopelessness and despair Africa felt under British colonization.