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A Conflict Of Tradition, Modernity And Christianity

When someone who deals with economic policies takes up the pen to write a novel one wonders what sort of result is expected from an economist. The author begins his literary career where most beginners begin-with a novel. It is a mode that enables the writer to explore the conflicts of life in simple uncomplicated episodes. And that is what Osi Ogbu achieves with a concise and direct language in this book, The Moon Also Sets.

The plot revolves around a widow (Mama Oby) and her daughter (Oby) who struggles to survive in a male- dominated world. The book describes how Mama Oby tries hard to bring up her children alone while dealing with the requirements of tradition as shown by Pa Okolo. She believes in the importance of education and spares no effort in helping her daughter get university education.

The book can be described as a conflict of tradition, modernity and Christianity. People are constantly faced with situations where their actions and words are assessed by the three competing value systems. In the novel Mama Oby, a devout catholic and other Catholics in Isiakpu refused the decision of the church concerning Obeta who was accused of murder. They rather chose to adhere to tradition which ostracizes anyone accused of murder who refuses to swear before the village idol. Also the Igwe who should be a custodian of the culture and traditions of Isiakpu jettisoned tradition when it stood on his way to success. Again modernity represented by Oby was not clear cut, as she was always quick to defend traditional views and values in her discussions with Chris.

The book is an easy- to- understand fiction written in a free flowing style. Osi Ogbu addresses life’s many vagaries-sadness, joy, success, failure, victory and defeat; in this book. He embellished the novel with rich Igbo idioms, fables and proverbs.

This book was thoroughly enjoyable and I recommend it unreservedly. If you are looking for an African novel to read this month, read The Moon Also Sets.


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