Bawa Kammampoal


This paper is an attempt to find proverbial materials in Achebe’s magnum opus, to interpret and analyse them. The proverb is one of the elements of folklore which permeates the literary imagination of writers. It has for that matter been extant in verbal as well as written communication between people as it provides readers, users as well as listeners with the true essence of the culture of its originating society. Understandably, the proverb is one of the main discursive segments of oral tradition from which Chinua Achebe profusely draws to negate the colonial episteme. Since proverbs are part of the daily life of the Igbo people in which their culture is expressed, the novelist uses those not only as appropriate literary devices to depict social realities but also to help record the events of the past. Thus, Achebe’s intent in using proverbs is to give to his creative impulse an accurate stamp of uniqueness, authenticity as well as identity. Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is rich in proverbial materials in its endeavour to show that in non-literate oral cultures, proverbs, songs, poems as well as sayings are not the only fundamental repository of his people’s epistemology but also act as an explanatory meta-narrative. The study is based on theoretical frameworks proposed by both Mieder (2004) and McLeod (2002). While the former states that the wisdom of proverbs has guided people in their social interactions with the cultural values it carries; the latter adopts a postcolonial stand by positing that proverbs are used to overturn the dominant ways of seeing the world and representing reality in ways which do not replicate colonialist values. This suggests on the part of the postcolonial literary theorist, a dexterous manipulation of the English language; its syntactical structure as well as its semantics to project his own culture, outlook, and worldviews. Things Fall Apart is a compelling example of such a paradigm. The findings show that proverbial materials constitute a multifunction form of folk literature premised on significant cultural linguistic products created and used in social situations for social purposes: didactic as well as a depository of culture.


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proverbial materials, imagination, culture, oral tradition, episteme, language, worldviews, magnum opus

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