Ibo-ny and Ivory: The Inharmonious British/Ibo Relations
;Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe and aren’t even aware of…;Ellen Goodman;s survey of tradition;s persuasiveness could not be truer of the Ibo culture and the African slave trade with regards to British influence.Clearly, the Ibo people instinctively held closely to their customs in reaction to English presence; plausibly, their intent in so doing was to hold as closely as possible to their status quo. Remarkably enough, their true effect was the facilitation, not prevention, both of the British slave trade in the mid-eighteenth century and of British colonization in the late nineteenth century.As the Ibo provided this ingress for ;the white man; to gain power on African land, the Ibo people had some choices to be made that would definitively shape their chi, or destiny.To be sure, the story of Olaudah Equiano as well as Chinua Achebe;s Things Fall Apart provides evidence contrary to the common conception of the superior British strong-arming the inferior Africans to the point of submission.Specifically, both accounts show intelligent African societies making reasoned yet vacillating decisions regarding the cooperation with slave traders or conformation to British colonists; culture.This rift in African resolve was enough to allow both the eighteenth-century slave traders and the nineteenth century colonists to divide Ibo with intent to conquer; in doing so taking the most important thing to a human, freedom.
British slave traders capitalized upon the rivalries amongst the numerous and highly competitive political entities of eighteenth-century Africa with the purpose of capturing slaves.Values, preferences, and national identity were set on very narrow scopes throughout Ibo society.Equiano aptly describes this, stating …

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