TBBNQ Reads: Things Fall Apart - Proverbs

By Ibukun.

I have read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe a number of times, and each and every time, it never failed to transport me to the land before now; to when the ancestors were very much present with us, and culture was rich and celebrated. When I think about the novel, a visual representation of certain scenes always comes to mind. On this occasion, I decided to create a painting that exhibits the culture that was beautifully shown in the book.

A number of ideas flashed through my mind including the intense atmosphere of the wrestling scene where Okonkwo won his first match, the burial scene where he committed manslaughter (sorry for the spoiler!), and the dark cave shrine of the priestess who took Okonkwo's daughter – Ezinma – on that weary night. However, upon picking up the book to read for the umpteenth time, I realised there was a recurring theme that kept resonating with me.


The various proverbs were part of what made the book such a delight to read!

From the funny one of the monkey's relatives telling him he is not ugly, to the proverb that says:

"A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing."

Proverbs, as Achebe writes, are the palm-oil with which words are eaten. A conversation among the Igbo without the use of proverbs reads badly on the speaker, and reduces the integrity of the speech. Peter (1971) avers that proverbs are used among the Igbo “because of their literal attribute of being figurative, colourful and terse, and their earthy qualities of containing truths and hard facts borne out of experience.” They are also used to avoid directly answering questions.

I thoroughly enjoyed finding these little bits of witty wisdom.

Hence, I decided to paint, and call the painting "Proverbs".

Hand Painted Image by Ibukun Jaiyesimi

Hand Painted Image by Ibukun Jaiyesimi

The painting was inspired by the following proverbs:

“A chick that will grow into a cock can be spotted the very day it hatches.”

“You can tell ripe for by its look.”

If you had to create a visual representation of your favourite scene from Things Fall Apart, what would it be?

Share in the comments section below!