Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God and the Problematic of African Time

Njeng Eric Sipyinyu, University of Burundi, The Republic of Burundi, ID CLEaR2017-432;     Abstract: Is there such a thing as black and white time? How is such a notion connected to earliness and lateness, development and underdevelopment, industry and sloth, light and darkness, justice and injustice? Achebe intimates the idea of postcolonial time in Arrow of God by embedding the concept in the crux of the conflict. Ezeulu as the chief priest of Ulu is the timekeeper and the sexton who by observing the advent of each month/moon controls the notion of cyclical time among the Umuaro. His ability to fulfill this function is compromised by the colonial regents who have an ostensibly more sophisticated notion of time. The  conflict in Arrow of God which is obviously the clash between African tradition and colonialism is complicated by the different attitudes towards time and time passage. Ezeulu and Winterbottom clash and unite as both men manage the idea of time and progress. However, whereas Ezeulu wastes the months and hastens the transition of his people to a new world order, Winterbottom, equipped with a better understanding of of time helps his society to achieve victory. Colonialism, Achebe posits, succeeded because of the colonial regents’ superior technology of time.

Keywords: Achebe, Arrow of God, African Time, Postcoloniality, development, underdevelopment