No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe

No Longer at Ease is the third book in the trilogy that starts off with a giant of African literature Things Fall Apart. This book follows the story of Obi, the grandson of Okonkwo, as he tries to live up to the expectations of everyone around him. Staged in the late 1950’s, years leading up to the independence of Nigeria, the book tells us the story of the 26 year old Obi.

Obi seems to be on a moral high horse when he returns from doing his studies in England, claiming that he will never take a bribe. He reminds me a lot of Ayi Kwei Armah’s protagonist ‘The Man’ in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. Both of these characters find themselves trapped in a rotting society defined by corruption and driven by powerful people and they both wish to take the moral high ground and not engage in these activities even when chances present themselves. However, Obi ends up falling into the trap of corruption because of pressures from society, family and because of his own pride.

The book seems to suggest an inevitability of corruption in colonial political systems, systems that are frighteningly similar to those we are still using across the continent post-independence.