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Friday, May 17, 2013

“A man of the people” (1966) Character of Odili Samalu


“A man of the people” (1966)
Character of Odili Samalu

v  An intellectual turned politician:-
            A Man of the People is a satirical farce about corrupt politicians cynically exploiting a political system, a legacy of colonial rule Achebe is cynical about his modern Nigerians society and does ot favors any of the central figures in the novel Odili Samalu is an intellectual turned politician. He is full of vigor and youthful vibrations and idealism. He has double role in this novel as a narrator and anti-hero. He has challenged Nanga at the polls, but he is defeated because his real motive has been personal reverse against the chief honorable M.A. Nanga M.P.

v  A satirical  Character:-
            The satire in this novel is gentle and subtle Achebe merely exposes the follies of his society and offers no practical solution to the political malady. He does not make elaborate comments on the maladies but the makes the leader look at things through the eyes of a weak idealist who happens to be the narrator and a character in the novel without strong conviction and political ideology.  The narrator acts in limited areas outside his personal life. The unsophisticated villagers see things more clearly than he does a mirror character who is a simple ‘bush’ woman dismisses both Odili and chief Nanga in the words.  “They are both white man’s people.”

v  A Weak Idealist:-
            In the beginning of this novel Odili’s admiration is mixed up with envy when he meets chief  M.A. Nanga, M.P. at the Ananta grammar school. But his opinion is changed when he visits the residence at Nagain bori. The captive being a weak idealist, Odili comes under the influence of Nanga and develops a sympathetic attitude to the temptations of power. He says, “All I can say is that on that first night there was no room in my mind for criticism and maybe I should have thanked god that I was not a man who has just come in from the rain and dried his body and put in dry clothes is more reluctant to go out.”

 Thus, he shifts his loyalty from the first to the third person pronoun now it is quite clear that the narrators hared for politician is tempered by his close observation of the problems of power- politics when he first met Nanga at the grammar school he ironically remarked.  “The minister stepped out wearing damask and gold chains and acknowledging cheers with his ever present fan of animal skin which they said fanned away all evil design of the wicked.” Here the world they stand for the superstitious villagers.

v  As a narrator;-
Thus the first person narrators Odili Samalu fails to respond to the needs of the ‘poor contemptible people’ and ‘silly ignorant villagers’ from whom he separates himself both Odili and Obi in No Longer at Ease (1960) belong to the ‘hybrid class’ of intellectuals who work as intermediaries between the politicians and the people. Odili belongs to that group of intellectuals who had aligned  themselves with the group in power, neglecting the largely illiterate masses who expected more from these leaders of the future.