Things Fall Apart

What is rural life really like in Africa?

This is a book  that was published in 1958 but with it’s help brought Africa global recognition. Steeped in colonial history, Ghana eventually gained independence and both France and Belgium began to understand that colonialism has finally come to an end in the African continent, but unknown to those European imperial powers that had colonised the place, independence began to torment Africans. Several European powers grew deeply interested in the “local power source” they could sense was abound in the African continent then and Achebe’s novel begins at this point in time, where you meet a young man, in a fictional Nigerian town, who suddenly goes from being a farmer to a wrestling champion of his African province.

The young man went by the name of Okonkwo and he was born to a father who, in his eyes, was lazy and he died ten years before fame found Okonkwo. Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, was in heavy debt, and all of his neighbours in some or the other way, was in want of important money from him. Okonkwo had limited forbearance for the tall, sorrow-filled, savage-like, flute-playing and stooped Unoka: whenever his father rarely had money, he would splurge it on palm-wine, drunk from gourds, invite the neighbours and indulge in merrymaking but his happiest days were when two or three moons following the harvest his entourage would bring down the instruments from their fireplace and play it with friends, make music, feast, go from one town market to the other as the sun would shine ever brightly.

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How is Africa’s colonial past in the flesh?

It is pretty clear that Okonkwo never got along with his father or had the desire to reserve kind words about him but the story isn’t about any of that: it is about how Okonkwo threw a fellow dominating wrestler, Amalinze the Cat, from his high horse and won. Amalinze was known as the cat because his back never touched brown earth and it was the most hotly contested battle since the founder of the town conversed with a wild spirit for seven days and seven nights. Amalinze, a smart professional, met his opponent Okonkwo, a slippery fish in water, and in the protagonist’s words, lost to him, in wrestling in a patriarchal and rural democratic town. Although that particular thought sounds so hard to believe when Amalinze seems to be a gifted wrestler, Okonkwo did defeat him in the end in his village surroundings, that magically remains preserved throughout time.

The book is interesting for bringing a correct picture of Africa to the West. Reading the book will enrich your idea of the kind of villages that build up the continent, overwhelmingly, and what life is like for the people who inhabit them. Okonkwo gets famous after he wins against Amalinze, an event that you understand, was more than twenty years ago. A mammoth man, Okonkwo is tall like his father, with bushy eyebrows and a wide nose. Severe and lacking zero tolerance for unsuccessful men, when Okonkwo naps his huge family can sense that he is breathing even though they live in separate village houses.

Stammering slightly, Okonkwo spent his whole childhood looking for a blue kite floating around a clear sky and if he met it, he would ask it if he had brought back any yards of cloth with him. Okonkwo, having grown up in absolute poverty because of his father, had to live a life where he barely ate, with people constantly making fun of him, and growing up exhibiting the same debt-ridden habits of Unoka, except that people trusted him much less than his father, when the question of borrowing even more money was raised. There is a lot of market environment in Things Fall Apart and it is worthy of a read to understand Africa during the 1800s so much better, from the inside.

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The Debate Over Beef In India

Can India really afford to challenge the idea of beef on their plates?

In the wake of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) crisis unfolding, there is a greater picture emerging about the relationship of India and Western powers. The ongoing budget proposals should aim to lift India’s economy significantly higher from the miserable spot it has been stationed in since the Congress Party led the government. At the moment, India is recovering relatively well because of sound foreign investment and good export measurements (India is the world’s largest beef exporter) but India’s national currency, the rupee, continues to fall against the dollar. Sometimes policymakers put a greater emphasis on economic reform even if that means going against the “political grain” and this raises investment confidence, despite the strong competition for attention from Indonesia.

Allies such as the United States have not seen a significant downturn in amicability with India, because of sporadic narrow-minded local protests but that is never the full picture. One of the most pressing local problems about India, to the West (and the Far East) is food. People from Japan have to cross out their desire to visit India over concerns that beef is not included in the local cuisine, particularly in Kashmir, Haryana and Maharashtra. A ban on eating beef in India has not only stirred the Hindu-dominated country into anger, but it has also alienated the need to ban other more prioritising concerns in India, such as corruption. Furthermore, India is a diverse country, home to people of various religious and linguistic backgrounds, and not permitting beef to be included in the local cuisine is getting in the way of celebrating that cultural diversity.

Authentic Home Decos

 

Freedom of speech and the freedom to act should not be restricted in an authoritarian style by the government in an Indian democracy, especially when there is a rising tide of international economic aggressiveness. There is no room for religious intolerance in India, or so it was to be believed since Narendra Modi (and BJP) came to power but several recent political efforts such as these since his election are pushing a parallel point of view and not a particularly sincere one towards Indian tolerance of diversity. Indian society is now rampant with forced religious conversions, conservative Hindu factions are also behaving braver and there is an increased amount of talks over banning certain books. All of this oppression is alienating Indian Muslims and this cannot go on. Muslims in India should not be afraid of intolerance in the country, should not believe that they are getting isolated for their religion, and are being staved off from equal opportunities in getting an education and gaining employment.

The food plates of Indians should not be dictated by the Indian government. Beef is also relatively cheaper in India and a good protein source than both chicken and fish, so this restrictive measure is hurting the income pocket of poorer Muslims, tribals and Dalits, who count beef as a staple food. The rising Hindu sentiment seems to be that eating beef is hurting the Hindu community because they consider a cow to be sacred. They argue that religious diversity in India should not come at the expense of pain for one community, however this sentiment is falling out of place in a rising metropolitan. Although Indians today are being told what to do all the time, from what clothes to wear to where to shop, many Indians today are no longer interested in excluding beef from their local meals. Eating beef in India is regarded as a status symbol because it is one of the primary ingredients in fast foods, such as burgers and steaks. For that, beef appeals as a local food to urban classes, so it is hard to fathom that beef has not carved out a favourable permanent position in the local cuisine of India.

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