Page 52. " He made him feel grown-up; and they no longer spent the evenings in mother's hut while she cooked, but now sat with Okonkwo in his obi, or watched him as he tapped his palm-tree for the evening wine. "
Palm wine MS 4754.JPG
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePalm wine MS 4754.JPG - Credit: Marco Schmidt

Palm wine is a popular alcoholic beverage in West Africa; over 10 million Africans drink palm wine.  It is made from palm sap, which is allowed to ferment for at least a day, sometimes longer.   

Page 53. " He was like the man in the song who had ten and one wives and not enough soup for his foo-foo. "
Preparing foo-foo
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePreparing foo-foo - Credit: c.hug

Foo-foo is a ubiquitous and much-beloved staple through most of West Africa.  This side dish is made by boiling and pounding a starchy vegetable, such as yam, plantain, or cassava, with a wooden spoon or beater in a bowl until it is thick and doughlike.


Page 55. " Locusts are descending "
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeLocust-003.jpg - Credit: Danny Steaven

Locusts are similar to grasshoppers in size and appearance.  Swarms of locusts can cause crop damage and destroy farms.  In fact, today, locusts cause the most destruction on farms in Africa.  In Things Fall Apart, the Igbo are excited about the arrival of the locusts; they can capture and dry the locusts in the sun to later eat with palm-oil.

Page 58. " Then from the distance came the faint beating of the ekwe. "
Traditional Ekwe Drum
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeTraditional Ekwe Drum - Credit: Infomatique

The ekwe is a type of drum used for music, religious ceremonies, cultural events, and rituals in the Igbo culture. It is usually carved from a hollowed out tree trunk, and has two rectangular cavities at either end of the instrument. There is a horizontal slit that connects these cavities. Ewkes come in all sizes, varied depending upon their use. The ekwe gives special signals to the Igbo people about meetings, announcements, theft, and other emergencies. In this part of the book, the ewke is being used as part of an ozo dance, signifying the acquisition of titles from ones clan. It is part of a ceremony consisting of music, dancing, and feasting.

Page 60. " Eze elina, elina!/ Sala/ Eze ilikwa a/ Ikwaba akwa oligholi/ Ebe danda nechi eze/ Ebe Uzuzu nete egwu/ Sala "

This song translates to:

King, do not eat, do not eat!


King, if you eat it

You will weep for the abomination

Where White Ant installs king

Where Dust dances to the drums


This song speaks of a story of a stubborn king who eats a roasted yam reserved for sacrifice to the gods. The song warns the king not to commit this crime because it would jeopardize his place and, in turn, the prosperity of his people. He is warned that if he eats the yam, he will regret it and the price he pays is a dishonorable death. Upon this death, he is said to be denied reunion with his ancestors and his people.

Page 61. " Nwoye had heard that twins were put in earthenware pots and thrown away in the forest, but he had never yet come across them "

Muzium Negara KL23.JPG
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMuzium Negara KL23.JPG - Credit: Gryffindor

In the Igbo culture, twins were put to death because they were considered inhuman and part of the animal world; they would disgrace the village.  


Page 63. " On the third day he asked his second wife, Ekwefi, to roast plantains for him. "

Plantains are a fruit commonly used in Igbo cuisine. They resemble large bananas and are often eaten boiled or fried.

Page 64. " Enzinma brought his goatskin bag from the far end of the hut... It was a deep bag and took almost the whole length of his arm. "

Goatskin is a type of leather that comes from the skin of a goat. This material was commonly used during the Victorian era and is sometimes still used today. It was prized in earlier times because it is very durable and produces high quality goods. Many African products, such as gloves, rugs, boots, drumheads and bags, can be made out of goatskin.

Public DomainManamana - Credit: en:User:Malidirect
Page 69. " Sometimes I wish I had not taken the ozo title "

The Nze na Ozo society (pronounced Nze nah Awzaw), is the most respected magico-religious and social grouping in the Igbo culture. To become Ozo implies that the title holder is now an ‘Nze’ implying living spirit and an ancestor. One then becomes a moral authority in the community in cases of disputes. In times of crisis, most Igbo communities will rely on Ozo               

Ozo Title
Creative Commons AttributionOzo Title - Credit: Gates Foundation

members to lead them.

Page 69. " In many other clans a man of title is not forbidden to climb the palm tree "

In the Igbo culture, men are given titles when they have earned a great deal of respect from the tribe. Once a title is received, the title holder must follow certain rules in order to keep their title. These rules prohibit title holders from lying, cheating, stealing from their neighbors, commiting any other crimes, and even climbing a tree.