Clara Okeke (oh-
Isaac Nwoye Okonkwo (
Hannah Okonkwo, Obi’s mother. She and Obi share a special bond. Loyal to her husband, she has zealously carried out her duties as the wife of the catechist. She, too, is a devout Christian, but she enjoys the music her husband considers “heathen,” and Obi thinks she misses the folk stories that Isaac forbade her to tell their children. For years, she augmented the family income by selling homemade soap. Now she is old and ill, but her frailty belies her determination, as Obi discovers when he tells her about Clara.
William Green, Obi’s boss at the Scholarship Board. Mr. Green is a conscientious Englishman with a complex attitude toward his adopted country. Despite devotion to his job and fatherly kindness toward lower employees, he is highly prejudiced against educated Nigerians. Obi thinks that he would have made a great missionary at a time when he could have felt noble about helping the less fortunate. With Nigeria on the verge of independence, however, he is openly petty and resentful.
Joseph Okeke, Obi’s former classmate, a Survey Department clerk who is no relation to Clara. Joseph has had no opportunity for education beyond the mission school, but he has a worldly wisdom that Obi lacks. He is proud of his friendship with the successful scholar. Although Obi ignores his pragmatic advice, Joseph remains helpful.
Christopher, a London-educated economist and Obi’s friend. Like Obi, he is of the second generation of educated Nigerians, those who have returned to many old customs without fear of being thought uncivilized. Christopher is an urbane and somewhat cynical ladies’ man. He and Obi often argue about Nigeria’s future and its present problem of corruption among public officials.
The Honorable Sam Okoli (oh-
Marie Tomlinson, Mr. Green’s disarming English secretary, who shares Obi’s office and may have been planted to spy on him. Obi perceives her as both likable and sincere.