No Longer At Ease – Chinua Achebe
No Longer at Ease is a beautiful if poignant story of a young Nigerian man, Obi Okonkwo who is facing his trial for taking a bribe and abusing his position in the Civil Service. The story then traces his past, from the young, bright-eyed, academically gifted boy in school to his present as an accused criminal.
And in the course of the story we learn of the challenges that face Africa and its people, especially the young. We learn what circumstances turns a man who finds corruption repugnant, and bribery evil, to one who accepts bribes easily. Surprisingly, it is not difficult to not only empathize with Obi but sympathize with him.
Obi secures admission to study law in London, not a mean achievement for he is the first in his village Umuofia to achieve this. However, in Nigeria where money is meager, the means to fulfill this dream appear thin. This is when the villagers who stand by each-other in strong kinship come to the aid of Obi and tax themselves heavily to collect money for his education.
On his return after 4 years, Obi realizes that the real Nigeria, Lagos especially, doesn’t match anymore to the memories he had carried with himself. Corruption is abundant and Obi, full with zeal, idealism and foreign education, sets out to secure a position in the Civil Service to do what he can for his country.
However, everything is not as rosy as it seemed. Although having been accepted in the services, his boss Mr. Green is a “white-man” who rebels against Nigeria’s independence. Suffering Mr. Green’s taunts and verbal abuses is, however, least of Obi’s problems.