One of the descriptions of postcolonialism that really tied the concepts together for me was “Wittgenstein’s metaphor, a rope with many overlapping strands” (pg 191). Unless I am mistaken, this image is made to illustrate the tangential nature of various cultures that have already been colonialized. However, for me, this image was the perfect descriptor of how the British and the Ibo culture would be able to coexist. One culture relied heavily on oral traditions while the other has a business-like, literary approach (as reflected by the structure of the novel—but more on that later). Neither of these would be able to eradicate the other without an excess of violence or force that would ultimately have defeated the purpose of conversion. The only way that they could coexist would be to exist separately while sharing borders on the topics on which they agree (like trading). Unfortunately, a method of coexisting that follows this model requires that neither culture demands superiority or power. They must both compromise in order to coexist peacefully.
As others have already recognized, the oral culture was essential to the Ibo tribe. In class, we discussed how the orality of Things Fall Apart actually begins to fall apart in the second and third portions of the story and they begin to adopt a more literary feel. As a reader, this could be a sign that the culture itself was relying less on their proverbs and histories to gain a sense of the world and more on the British for access into a more modern era. Or, the reader can assume that the oral history of the Ibo tribe was not lost, merely moved to a back burner to focus on the newness of the culture that was forcing its presence into their midst. And yet, the novel ends before the reader can see how the tension between the Ibo and the British is resolved. The ideal would be that they do not destroy each other, but find a way to coexist like overlapping strands of rope.