“Ominous” Foreshadowing

In chapter 15 of “When Things Fall Apart,” Okonkwo’s friend Obierika had delivered news to him and his uncle about the massacre of the African Abame tribe that had occurred at a large market place. This massacre had destroyed the entire tribe and only a few members were left. This massacre was different from the normal disputes or wars between tribes because this tragedy was committed by three white European colonizers who had received help from members of another tribe. (Achebe, 131)The white men had sought revenge after members of the Adame tribe had noticed a white man riding on his horse, and they had killed him after receiving a warning from their oracle about the destruction that white men would bring. Thus, the Adame were defending themselves from what they perceived to be the beginning of invasion. After all, many individuals from tribes have heard stories about white men kidnapping Africans by force and enslaving them. (Achebe, 132)Thus, they were concerned about the safety of their tribe. However, the Adame never asked the white man for information which Oknokwo’s uncle Uchendu believes led to the slaughter. (Achebe, 130) For instance, Uchendu stated, “Never kill a man who says nothing. Those men of Abame are fools. What did they know about the man?” Unchedu believed that it was dangerous to kill a man without finding out his intentions first or the reactions of those who accompany a man. (Achebe, 131) Uchendu then narrated a story about a woman who told her daughter to return a baby chick she had stolen from its mother because the mother had walked away in silence. The woman believed that the chick could not be eaten until the mother had at least shouted or cursed her daughter for stealing the chick because she believed that silence left uncertainty. The woman feared that the duck could seek revenge for her baby chick, so they needed to see her express normal emotions such as anger. For instance, she states, ” “Their is something ominous behind this silence.” (Achebe, 132) How does Uchendu’s story about the baby chick foreshadow the uncertainty and dangers surrounding European imperialism?

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