As a youth in England, Richard
is first intrigued by Nigeria when he sees an image of its roped pots. The roped pots were part of ancient Igbo-Ukwu art and artifacts unearthed in Nigeria in 1959-60. They show complex metalworking that existed as early as the 9th century among the Igbo-Ukwu (ancestors of the present-day Igbo). Archeologists now agree that this intricate metalworking developed without foreign influence or aid and was solely invented in the isolated community of the Igbo-Ukwu. In the novel the roped pots represent Richard’s fascination with Nigeria and also his genuine love of its people and culture, unlike the racism of his other white counterparts. When Richard tries to explain his love of Igbo-Ukwu art to his fellow English expatriates, they assume that he just wants to exploit it for money.