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"We pray for life, children, a good harvest, and happiness". Food: Things Fall Apart. By Audra Borden and Emily Jensen.

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"He who brings kola brings life" (Achebe 4)"'Nna ayi', he said.  'I have brought you this little kola.  As our people say, a man who pays his respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness.  I have come to pay you my respects and also to ask you a favor.  But let us drink the wine first.'" (Achebe 13)"'Take away your kola nut.  I shall not eat in the house of a man who has no respect for the gods and ancestors' " (Achebe 19)Kola nuts seem to represent honor, respect, tradition, and reverence.

Kola Nut

yams in general
YAMS- in general

"Ifejioku, god of yams" (Achebe 2)

"'I know what it is to ask a man to trust another with his yams'"(Achebe 14).

"That year the harvest was sad, like a funeral, and many farmers wept as they dug up miserable and rotting yams. One man tied his cloth to a tree branch and hanged himself" (Achebe 15)

"yam, king of crops, was a very exacting king.  For three or four moons it demanded hard work and constant attention from cock-crow till the chickens went back to roost" (Achebe 21)

"The feast of the new yam... was an occasion for giving thanks to Ani, the earth goddess and the source of all fertiliy.  Ani played a greater part in the life of the people than any other deity.  She was the ultimate judge of morality and conduct" (Acehebe 23).

The Ibo have a god especially for yams, celebrate life, fertility, and prosperity in conjunction with yams, and spend one third of every year cultivating them.  As inthe above quotes, yams symbolize to them honor (second quote) and life, without which hopelessness sets in (third quote).

yams gender roles
Yams- gender roles

"Yam, the king of crops, was a man's crop" (Achebe 15).

"YAM stood for manliness" (Achebe 21)

"No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man.  He was like the man in the story who had ten and one wives and not enough soup for his foo-foo" (Achebe 32).

Men cultivate the difficult, prestigious yam, while women grow coco-yams, a much less demanding crop.  Masculinity is measured by how many yams a man has, and how he controls his wives.