Interplay of Law and Equity in Chinua Achebe's 'Arrow of God'

19 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2013

See all articles by Olubukola Olugasa

Olubukola Olugasa

Babcock University - School of Law and Security Studies

Date Written: September 15, 2013


The late literary legend, Chinua Achebe, may have been celebrated in many ways for his immense contributions to humanity through profound literary works that will perpetually remain beneficial to the world. But hardly have we appreciated his works from legal perspective. Interestingly, in many less developed academic environments, scholars tend to limit their research and academic publications to stereotypes within frameworks of fragmented subjects; fragmented subjects of study for teaching convenience. Perhaps that disposition has restricted robust interdisciplinary research and approach to exploring the real essence of literary works of scholars like Chinua Achebe. It is not peculiar to Nigeria. This paper seeks to bring to life the legal issues deducible from the trilogy of Chinua Achebe, namely 'Things Fall Apart', 'No Longer at Ease' and 'Arrow of God'. The events in the trilogy show the dilemma of the protagonists in responding appropriately to the changing circumstances of the unwritten and unspoken customary laws of their times. The challenge of choice of appropriate discretion in the face of dynamics of change has foisted on every man the need to take deep consideration of the position of law and equity, even within the shortest possible time, before making a choice. The choice made ultimately determines the fate of man. That appears to be what in literary parlance is couched in the expression 'character is fate'. The approach here begins and goes beyond socio-legal perspective to doctrinal analyses of the story in the novel. The paper concludes by using the discourse to reflect the position of a Nigerian in the context of the interplay of law and equity against his customary law requirements, the challenges and the need for reforms and repositioning of customary law in Nigeria’s legal system.

Keywords: law, equity, justice, rules of custom

Suggested Citation

Olugasa, Olubukola, Interplay of Law and Equity in Chinua Achebe's 'Arrow of God' (September 15, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Olubukola Olugasa (Contact Author)

Babcock University - School of Law and Security Studies ( email )

Ilishan, Ogun State 110011

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