Voices of Africa: Questions & Answers

Question 1

Achebe’s story features male/female relationships prominently. How are the women in this story presented? In what ways might the characters and their fates represent the larger landscape of the 20th century, post-colonial Africa?

The author subjects the character of women to revolve around metaphysics by continuously portraying them as beings naturally enslaved by superstitious doctrines (Achebe). This belief in superstition manifests itself in the character of Janet’s mother who openly doubts the natural existence of some female population of the Umuru market. She believes that some of these women are not human beings, but spirits who reside in the river commonly referred to as Mammy Wota by the Umuru natives. It is further captured by examining her statement about the existence of another world inhabited by comparatively different people and endowed with extreme beauty (Achebe).

Another aspect of superstition that the author attributes to women in this novel is that of religion, which is captured when Ma uses it as a premise to justify the endorsement of her daughter’s marriage to Julius (Achebe). It is because Julius sings in a church choir. On a positive note, women are portrayed as authoritative by Ma’s inability to be questioned on matters such as superstition, as it amounts to bad policy in Julius’ view. Moreover, the caring nature of women, especially in disastrous moments such as the risk of contracting diseases like smallpox is seen when Ma advice Julius and Janet to stay indoors and avoid the chances of being exposed to smallpox (Achebe). The characters assigned by Chinua Achebe gives us the exact picture of the kind of society that existed during the postcolonial era in the 20th century. Here, the role of women was restricted to social affairs such as an oversight role of supervising the growth and development of female offspring like Janet. Women’s pursuit of economic dominance also comes into play as observed in their large numbers within the market place.

Question 2

Using the internet, explore education in Kenya. How is their system alike or different than education in the US?
The nature of education systems between Kenya and the USA totally conflict in nature and structure. America’s education system has undergone tremendous improvement, but Kenya’s system is still in its infancy stage (The First Grader). The change in the political climate has injected a new life into the dull and dying education sector through the introduction of free primary education. This process aims at solving the problem of financial discrimination in accessing education, which previously excluded poor citizens. Despite the major differences between the two systems, a commonality of interest is in terms of emphasis on English, Mathematics and vocational subjects (The First Grader). In the case of Kenya, a tailored policy ensures en students are treated equally despite their levels of academic abilities. It is contrary to America where students are separated in terms of their academic prowess by placing them into different levels of academic training (The First Grader).

Works Cited
The First Grader. Movie. Available at
Achebe, Chinua. The Sacrificial Lamb. Available at

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