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The Politics Of Animal Stories – Chinua Achebe

At work “What does literature have to do with it” Achebe raises a very relevant question about literature with creation. It asks whether “people make stories” or “stories make people” or rather “stories make people make stories.” Linked to the question of whether the stories would come first or the people would come first is the creation myth, with which the remarkable history of the Fulani is linked.’ It is a creation story about whether man was born first or history came first. The story goes that in the beginning there was a “huge drop of milk. Then milk created stone, stone created fire. fire created water. water created air’. Then Doudari made the man of five elements. But the man had pride. Then Dudari created blindness and blindness overcame man. The story is about creation, man’s defeat through hubris, and man’s redemption. These stories are not limited to creation alone, but have been embedded in human history, social organizations, political systems, moral attitudes, religious beliefs, and even prejudices.

The Igbo political system prevails in the absence of kings. The word “king” is represented more than different words. In the Igobo town of Ogidi, kingship gradually fell into disuse because the king had to settle many debts, which belonged to every man and woman in the kingdom. In fact, one who became king held the world in utter contempt when he organized a ritual called ‘Kola-nut’ where he cracked the nut between his teeth and made people eat the kola nut coated with the king’s saliva. He was dethroned and the people became republican. It was decided that the king should guarantee the solvency of the people. These mythic stories of kingship diminished with the advent of the British commonwealth, when kingship merged with British political heritage and took on new connotations.

Achebe narrates two stories of animals, the emergence of the British commonwealth, when royalty merged with British political heritage and took on a new color.

Achebe mentions two animal stories that are short but complex enough to warrant them as literature. There was once a meeting of animals, in a public square, when a bird was spotted by its neighbors going in the opposite direction. The bird explains that he had not come to the meeting due to some personal matter. The bird generously said that although it was not present in body, it would be present in spirit. In the meeting it was decided that a certain animal, namely the fowl, would henceforth be regularly sacrificed to the Gods. And so the bird had consented to be a sacrificial victim forever.

The second animal story was about a snake riding a horse. The snake could not ride very skillfully. A toad passed by to show the riding of the serpent. The toad rode very skillfully, and turned and returned the horse to the snake. The snake said with a smile that it is better to have than not to have. He had possession of the horse. So he rode away in the same manner as before.

These two stories have strange consequences. The story of the birds is a cautionary tale to democratic citizens who do not actively participate in the democratic process. The second story has implications of class divisions. The snake is an aristocrat in a class society, while a toad is a skilled commoner whose personal effort does not matter because he lacks the necessary possessions. The snake has value by birth or wealth and therefore enjoys privileges whether it has skills or not.

The connection of these stories to literature is unspoken. Literature offers scope for social transition and change. Literature can bring about changes in society. The king forcing his subjects to eat the nut covered in saliva is obviously an invitation to rebellion. The story of the snake is also a story of class division and privilege, but the seeds of revolution in it. The specialist have-nots may be incited to revolt by upholding the unjustified privileges of the unskilled rich. The implication is the dissolution of an incompetent oligarchy. In fact the snake figure has been chosen because of its unattractiveness because it would eventually become the target of the revolution.

Literature is linked to social, economic and educational development. Literature is related to the creation of human societies. Because Nigeria wants to grow as an independent nation, it needs the creative energy of national stories to support and sustain the growth of the nation.

In fact, even if we look back to classical literature, it seems that the portrayal of Achilles or Odysseus is indirectly linked to the development of Greece as a nation. Likewise, the portrait of Beowulf is connected to the social, historical and national development of Anglo-Saxon society. There is a relationship between the Anglo-Saxons sitting around the hearth fire rebelling against the cold and charting their own development and the narrative of psychoanalysis. Both have psychological implications within them. When one tells a story to the psychoanalyst, one is actually telling a story. The connection between literature and psychoanalysis, as Achebe puts it as “Literature can also have an important and profound positive effect, acting as a kind of rich, nourishing matrix for a healthy, growing soul.” Thus, literature helps to deal with the soul in real life, helping to discover the self that seeks to deal with life. Literature through the symbol of animal history is connected to political uprisings, sociological and historical developments as well as psychoanalytic analysis of the self that helps to face reality and find oneself.

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