The Thing Around Your Neck

by

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Nwamgba's story in "The Headstrong Historian" begins in the late 19th century, when she marries Obierika for love. She's headstrong and loyal to her husband, and fears his greedy cousins. She adores her son, Anikwenwa. When Obierika's cousins murder Obierika, Nwamgba learns that she can beat them by putting Anikwenwa in Catholic school so he can learn English and win her case in a British court of law. She sees that learning English gives a person power, though she understands that as Anikwenwa becomes more Westernized and rejects his native culture that power can blind a person to their history and their community.

Nwamgba Quotes in The Thing Around Your Neck

The The Thing Around Your Neck quotes below are all either spoken by Nwamgba or refer to Nwamgba. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of The Thing Around Your Neck published in 2009.
The Headstrong Historian Quotes

She wanted Azuka to learn the ways of these foreigners, since people ruled over others not because they were better people but because they had better guns...

Related Characters: Nwamgba, Anikwenwa, Ayaju
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

It was Grace who would read about these savages, titillated by their curious and meaningless customs, not connecting them to herself until her teacher, Sister Maureen, told her she could not refer to the call-and-response her grandmother had taught her as poetry because primitive tribes did not have poetry.

Related Characters: Nwamgba, Grace / Afamefuna
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nwamgba Character Timeline in The Thing Around Your Neck

The timeline below shows where the character Nwamgba appears in The Thing Around Your Neck. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Headstrong Historian
Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Stories and Representation  Theme Icon
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Nwamgba mourns her husband for years after he dies. She remembers when they first met at... (full context)
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Obierika comes with his cousins, Okafo and Okoye, who are like his brothers. Nwamgba hates them immediately, but tolerates them because Obierika loves them. They regularly take advantage of... (full context)
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One day, Nwamgba goes to the Oyi stream and meets her friend Ayaju. Ayaju is descended from slaves... (full context)
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Nwamgba and Obierika name their son Anikwenwa. He's a happy child, but Nwamgba fears that Okafo... (full context)
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...Ayaju sends one of her sons to learn the ways of the white men, telling Nwamgba that those with the best guns become rulers. (full context)
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When the white men come to Nwamgba's clan, she hurries to the square and is disappointed at how ordinary the men look.... (full context)
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Several weeks later, Ayaju tells Nwamgba that white men set up a courthouse in Onicha and suggests that Nwamgba send Anikwenwa... (full context)
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Nwamgba pulls Anikwenwa out of school at the Anglican mission when she learns that lessons are... (full context)
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Nwamgba begins to notice that Anikwenwa soon adopts strange habits. He refuses to eat "heathen food"... (full context)
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Anikwenwa soon goes to Lagos to teach. He returns and talks about "winning souls," and Nwamgba wonders if she meddled too much with his destiny. He tells her later about the... (full context)
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...The women at the stream beat her, and Anikwenwa threatens to lock up the women. Nwamgba is ashamed of her son and thinks he treats people who aren't Christian as though... (full context)
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Nwamgba makes sacrifices so that Mgbeke can give birth to a son, believing that her grandson... (full context)
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When Grace leaves for school, Nwamgba knows she's going to die soon. Anikwenwa wants to baptize her so she can have... (full context)
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...and doesn't realize she's a descendent of the "savages" until a teacher tells her that Nwamgba's poetry isn't actually poetry. Grace begins to despise Anikwenwa and tries to avoid him. She... (full context)
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...the courthouse and changes her name to Afamefuna. As a child, however, sitting next to Nwamgba, she simply holds her grandmother's hand. (full context)