By Chinwe Christiana Okechukwu
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Extra info for Achebe the Orator. The Art of Persuasion in Chinua Achebe's Novels
The images contained in this proverb are things the Umuofia audience can relate to, hence Achebe's choice of imagery. Proverbs, "the palm oil with which words are eaten" (7; ch. 1) in Umuofia, are a great asset and a linguistic device which Achebe employs effectively in this excerpt. At the point where the orator is exposing the people's dilemma over what to do about their clansmen who have deserted the clan, the orator introduces another proverb to exonerate the action he is urging the clan to take.
This is collective retribution. The white man wipes out Abame because some men in Abame killed a white man. The white men do not seek out the perpetrators of the crime. Rather, they have gone into a marketplace and have opened fire on all who are healthy enough to be in that market—men, women, and children. Here is a tu quoque argument. This is a species of the fallacious argumentum adhominem which points a finger back at an opponent. 15 The white men, despite their sense of superiority, can be seen to have done the same thing that the "inferior" natives do.
1' By presenting Okonkwo's journey from birth to death, Achebe has achieved adherence of minds to his thesis that colonialism destroyed what was good in his culture. In showing the values in Umuofia culture, Achebe creates a conscious reality in which these values inhere and makes the reader focus on them. Okonkwo manifests these values, imbuing them with energia. The reader is made to admire that living manifestation of the indigenous culture for its beauty, and at the same time, to condemn its excesses.
Achebe the Orator. The Art of Persuasion in Chinua Achebe's Novels by Chinwe Christiana Okechukwu