The concept of orality in postcolonialism is one that is constantly debated based on its importance. While there can be no denying that there’s a connection, many have disregarded the oral parts of culture because of its seemingly inferior state when compared to written aspects of culture. The opinion on orality has begun to change and build more positively, but many still think of the written word as having more impact and importance than the oral one. Focus on orality in cultures is said to represent the past, older less-civilized cultures that may not have had the means or simply preferred speaking to writing. With so much emphasis on the written word, it’s hard for orality to make a comeback and display its importance to a culture.
I think that Things Fall Apart is a perfect example of how this isn’t necessarily true. Granted, we’re reading Achebe’s writing, but Achebe’s audience is immersed into the Ibo tribe using their language and the meaning of culture found in their phrases. If Achebe had written this from a Western-world view that we’re accustomed to, with Anglo-Saxon terms and dialects, I seriously doubt a connection would be made between the audience and the Ibo culture. It’s true that the Ibo culture isn’t exactly the most updated of cultures found in the world, so I guess there is something to be said of the less-civilized comment that Ashcroft makes when talking of orality. However, because of the dialect found in Things Fall Apart, I felt as if I was part of this tribe and participating in the events that were unfolding as I read. I understood the emphasis on nature and law and status through the speeches found in the book more than the tribesmen’s actions.
The importance of orality shines through Achebe’s work because to these people, word was law. That didn’t mean they needed it written down in order to be heeded; the Ibo simply remembered what was important through respect.