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Reverend James Smith is a missionary who has taken over as head of the Christian church from Mr. Brown. Reverend Smith is rigorous in his Christian observances until he becomes a watchdog of what the local Igbo tribe does wrong. He was able to build tension by creating uncompromising circumstances. When a lady who had recently converted to Christianity was suspended for carrying out specific traditional ceremonies to bury her ogbanje kid, he displayed an intolerance toward the clan's people. Despite the woman's desire to accept Christianity, the reverend was unrepentant in his approach to her. The woman was burying her child and this means that she was more attached to the death of her child than the Reverend even though the Reverend does not take this into consideration.
The clansmen who had converted to Christianity were required to drop all indigenous beliefs. The reverend likened the traditional practices of the locals as an abomination similar to the pagan prophets of Baal in the Old Testament. He is said to 'see things in black and white, and black is evil' (Akers). He showed disrespect for the beliefs of the Igbos and he was claiming Christianity to be better. The reverend was stereotypical in his delivery of the gospel and he preached fire-and-brimstone to those who would not obey their teachings. In the effort of creating support for his staunch stand on Christianity he ends up being a creator of euphoria and fanatic traits. Mr. Smith propagated a war of ideas between the locals of Igbo promoting increase in tension and he prepared people for war.
Mr. Smith was very narrow minded. He did not think that cohesion would enable the growth of the religion that they wished to spread. He thought by banishing the traditional practices of the people he was being would achieve the ends of his means. However he ends up creating tension, war, and hate for the things he stands for. The people turn this hate around and direct it to him, one convert by the name of Enoch could not take any of Smith's hatred and he proceeds to burn his church compound (Akers). In the scuffle the life of Mr. Smith is spared due to the compassion of Mr. Brown but he does not even recognize that his hate has brought hate from the locals.
Mr. Brown is compassionate and despite his efforts of evangelizing he takes time to interact with the medicine man of the village in an effort to change him and yet learn from him. The people are increasingly convinced that Mr. Brown is spreading good news because of the life he lives. They emulate him and they get fascinated by the interest she shows in their activities.
With the medicine man, Mr. Brown is able to learn and acknowledge the acts of the local Igbo people. He talks of the God they create as wood which are mere objects and not holy yet discusses the representation of idolatry in Christianity. Mr. Brown creates reasoning and logic even in the discussions of religion. The people who follow him soon act as fanatics but Mr. Brown denounces this behavior knowing that it is retrogressive. The discussions she had with the medicine man indicate that he is patient. He met with him daily and conversed with him without getting pushy but instead he explained the differences of the things he thought were not religiously sound.
Mr. Brown is respected and he creates the aura of concern that makes the Igbo people consult him in some situations. The increase in respect causes the people to take his advice. He pleads with the locals to teach their children to read and write in order to ensure that they are not ruled by people from another land. He uses the example, of the District Commissioner who rules them as an example, he is a foreigner and Mr. Brown advises that the Igbos should be able to rule themselves (Akers). The name of Mr. Brown notifies the slight differences in race and culture that he had with the people of Igbo. This therefore shows that the message preached by Mr. Smith was in contrast to that of the Mr. Brown in the delivery.
In Chapter 20 the author says that apart from the church the white man had also brought with him a government. The idea of coming with a government had frightened the Igbo people and this made them less receptive. But even if that was part of the aim of Mr. Brown it is seen that the concern he gave would have brought a leadership that is democratic. In essence he had not come to the land of Nigeria with people to rule but he had come with the system required to create smooth governance. His patience and tolerance provided an environment that was fit for governance and better living unlike that of Mr. Smith.
Akers, Rhoads, "Culture in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart," The African Studies Review, Vol. 26, No.2, September, 1993:61-72. Print.
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