African Humanities

Order Instructions/Description

Each student must respond to two of the three prompts. Answers should be organized into proper essay format and all aspects of the prompt should be addressed.

  1. The unmasking and subsequent killing of the egwugwu in Things Fall Apart is generally interpreted as foreshadowing of Okonkwo s inevitable fall. But the theme of spiritual and ancestral presences is inherent throughout both Things and The Epic of Sundiata. For this essay, address the West African belief of spirits and predestination as we have discussed them. What important roles do these beliefs play in shaping the destinies of both Okonkwo and Sundiata?

  2. In The Epic of Sundiata, Sundiata s ultimate strength   both of character and physical   is attributed to the strong character of his mother, Sogolon; Sogolon suffered for her son and was rewarded with a son who was strong, noble, and just. In contrast, the main character in Thing s Fall Apart sees himself as self-made and credits his successes as a rejection of his  lazy and improvident  father, a rejection that has a strong impact on how he treats his own son. Discuss this notion of patronage in both The Epic of Sundiata and Things Fall Apart. How do each of the main characters  personalities develop within these parental relationships (both as child and as father)? How does their youth inform their behavior as adults and what might this theme teach us about West African cultural values?

  3. The Epic of Sundiata is an epic poem dating back to the fourteenth century and is based in the oral literary tradition of the griots. In contrast, Things Fall Apart is a twentieth-century narrative, written and published as a book from its conception. Address the notion of African literature, as we have discussed it. How does each narrative s literary format   oral versus written   inform our understanding or appreciation of it? How do these two West African literary examples draw upon the traditions of story-telling as a recurring theme within their narratives? Pay special attention to the use of proverbs, and mention of folk tales and histories in each story