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The wrestling contests are to be held on the second day of the festival. Everyone from the village gathers to watch these contests, as they are great sources of pride for the villagers. It begins with boys of fifteen or sixteen who provide some entertainment before the more serious matches. One of the winners is the son of Obierika, a friend of Okonkwo. Ekwefi, Okonkwo’s second wife, loves the wrestling matches and remembers how she fell in love with Okonkwo when he beat the great wrestler, Cat. Although she was married at the time, she left her husband once she found out Okonkwo had enough money to marry her.
Ekwefi meets Chielo, the priestess of Agbala, the oracle, who asks about her daughter’s health. The last match is between Okafo and Ikezue, the leaders of the teams. The earlier year, there had been a draw as they had the same style of fighting but this time, a fierce match ensues and Okafo wins the match. The people sing his praises, carrying him on their shoulders.Notes
Only the wrestling match is dealt with in this chapter and its focus emphasizes the importance of physical sports and agility in Igbo culture. The excitement running through the entire village is tangible. Men, women, and children show up for this great event that brings the community together.
Here the reader catches a glimpse of Okonkwo’s appeal to women as Ekwefi recounts her first sight of him at a wrestling match many years ago. Despite him having just beat her up, she has warm and passionate memories of their courtship.
The conversation between Ekwefi and Chielo about Ekwefi’s daughter, Ezinma is somewhat ambiguous although it will be cleared up later with the revelation of Ezinma’s illness. This exchange also shows how little women outside the family unit see each other except at these special feasts and the marketplace.
The final contest between the two leaders seems to invoke a wild frenzy among the spectators, and when Okafo manages to bring Ikezue down, the crowd bursts into a thunderous roar. For the villagers, the wrestling match is the event of the entire year.