Arrow of God – Chinua Achebe

Year of Publication: 1964

Genre: Fiction

Arrow of God, republished by Anchor in 1989, is Achebe’s third novel following after Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease. The first paragraph in the novel starts thus:

‘This is the third nightfall since he began to look for signs of the new moon. He knew it would come today but he always began his watch three days early because he must not take a risk. In this season of the year his task was not too difficult; he did not have to peer and search the sky as he might do when the rains came. Then the new moon sometimes hid itself for days behind rain clouds so that when it finally came out it was already halfgrown. And while it played its game the Chief Priest sat up every evening waiting.’

One might wonder who is the “he” being referred to, and, indeed, the novel centers around this person called Ezeulu, who is the chief priest of the god of Ulu – the same god worshipped in the six other villages of Umuaro. Arrow of God tells the story of this man, Ezeulu who suffers dearly at the hands of colonialism.

At the start of the book, Ezeulu and his people (the people of Umuaro) are preparing for fight with Okperi, a village close by. In the heat of the conflict, a white man intervenes and so things are brought to order.

The white man brings with him into the village of Umuaro a Christian religion and at the same time gradually establishes an administration. Many of the villagers lose their own faith in Ezeulu and instead run to embrace what the white man has brought into their village. But how was the white man able to succeed in the land of Umuaro?

This is a good read. It is populated with many proverbs which I enjoyed. I liked the way Achebe contrasted the traditional African forms with those of the West. Ezeulu’s characterization suits the book’s title, specifically the way he compares himself to an arrow in their god’s bow. This is a must read book. Highly recommended!


6 Responses to Arrow of God – Chinua Achebe

  1. I love this book. Together with the other two, they referred to as the African Trilogy. Ezulu says I am an arrow in their god’s bow. I like the way both sides (traditional and christian) were losing and winning on different grounds. In so doing, it makes it sound different from the present day African movies where anything traditional (including herbal medicine) is considered evil. Sometimes, things like that makes me sad. But what can we do? they have already been indoctrinated.


    • Geosi says:

      You have a strong point there, Nana. There the problem lies – our people have truly been indoctrinated. But there again, there is hope…that one day the scene may change.


  2. Sylvanus Bedzrah says:

    This has been a great African writer of all times. He is my role model. I love his style of writing. I hope to be like him one day.


  3. Agih pof says:

    The novel is such an interesting one. Achebe use of proverb in conveying messages is very outstanding. He is indeed a good model.


  4. Bonny mutai says:

    Ezeulu is in fight with his people.He feels he has been looked down upon by his enemies led by Nwaka.He plans to revenge while away from his village.


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