Focalizing Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease: Mitigating and Aggravating Factors in Obi Okonkwo’s Corruption Scandal
Keywords:Chinua Achebe, Mitigating Factors, Aggravating Factors, Corruption, African Literature
This essay employs criminological concepts to examine a corruption scandal in No Longer at Ease, a fictional work by the illustrious African writer, Chinua Achebe. The essay concludes from an examination of myriad contextual factors that Obi Okonkwo’s bribe-taking act was precipitated by a conglomeration of unfortunate events that dogged the auspicious life of a young college graduate. Rather than chastise Obi Okonkwo for economic malfeasance, one must consider the context—the multiple competing financial demands that he was saddled with, coupled with the difficult social and cultural situation he was embroiled in. Unlike some notorious bribe-takers elsewhere who demand money with impunity to indulge in extravagant displays of opulence, Obi Okonkwo took bribes primarily to defray pressing financial obligations towards family and to maintain a lifestyle forced upon him by the arrant expectations of his society. He succumbed to the crime only after refusing numerous bribe offers and only after engaging in torturous calisthenics with his conscience. In the end, rather than disappoint his family, the Umuofia Progressive Union, as well as his village community, Okonkwo succumbed to the bribe-offer to settle mounting and strangulating financial bills and live a lifestyle that conformed with the expectations of his social audience.
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