Authored by one of the planet’s greatest writers, No Longer At Ease is a timeless and classic piece of literature. In not so many words, Chinua Achebe describes Africa, her problems, a lone man’s attempt to right the wrongs of years of colonialism and neo-colonialism, and his sad fate of succumbing to the status quo. This story revolves around Michael Obi Okwonko, a man whose education in England was bankrolled by the Umuofia Progressive Union, in the hope that he would come back and lead the march towards political irredentism, social equality and economic emancipation.

Peppered with ageless words of wisdom, this book is as enlightening, as it is educative and entertaining! Okwonko embodies a man educated in Western academia, who has a burning ambition to rid his country of corruption. He puts up a good fight but in the end is the proverbial lady whose pot breaks at the door step. Set in mostly in Lagos and Obi’s village of Umuofia, the society is plagued with bribery, debauchery, and tribalism.

This book also tackles the conflict between Christianity and African traditional religion. Obi’s father symbolizes the African convert who is opposed to the ways of the heathens! He despises sacrifices, condemns religious rites yet when it comes to his son marrying an osu, he is categorically against it. An osu in the days gone, was one who was a forbidden caste. In Clara’s case, her great-great-great-great grandfather, had been dedicated to serve a god, thereby setting himself apart and turning his descendants into a forbidden caste till the end of time. So great were the implications that Obi’s mother threatened to kill herself if he married Clara, an osu.

After his mother’s ultimatum, Obi chooses to call of his engagement to Clara, only for him to discover that she was pregnant. Following his friend’s Chris’ recommendation, he pays off a doctor to conduct an abortion. Their relationship was never the same after that. Burdened with debt, and loans to clear, Obi finds himself between a rock and a hard place. He eventually gives in and starts trading both sexual and monetary favours for scholarships. In the end, it all comes tumbling down when he is set up, found with marked notes is arrested!

Chinua Achebe taps into his inimitable vault of wisdom to come up with this story. He makes a good case for Africanism and togetherness. In his words;

“A kinsman in trouble had to be saved not blamed; anger against a brother was felt from the flesh, not in the bone.”

This book was originally first published in 1960, and is still relevant to day!


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