Things Fall Apart is the first publication by an African writer, which reflected on the relation of Africa as a colony to the European powers and the European authors from Europe, which depicted Africans as savages who needed enlightenment from the whites. The novel provides a history of the Nigerian people with imperfections and strength by describing a case example of the Igbo festivals, how they organized their rituals, their rich social practices and culture, and their way of worship to their gods. The book illustrates how the Europeans tried to stop the Igbo culture during their colonial era, and the benefits the rule brought to their culture since the interaction of the whites and the Igbo had both positive and negative consequences. The author directs the misleading of European novels, highlighting Africans as salvages and revealing new light on the portrayal of Igbo society. This paper discusses the assertion that Achebe intends to write the novel to encourage a post-colonial African identity.
The author uses a deliberate manner to write the title and earn him an original position in Western and African literacy canons. There are many questions on why the author chose to use the English language and not a native language. However, the message in the title reaches his target audience, both the whites and African readers, efficiently by using English (Guthrie 10). Things Fall Apart is Achebe’s first novel, speaking the truth about Africa, as a response to British Imperialism. He is keen on details of the consequences of the new British administration, such as arresting Okonkwo and friends who are released after payment of fines (Achebe 181). Many of the novel’s critics agree that the title describes the effects of the missionaries and administrators on the tribal society’s typical village. Its highlights on dislocation that change education and religious aspects bring to historical certainties (Maleki and Navidi 11). Through the colonization process, the readers could accept whether to buy or discard the western culture introduced by the British colonizers.
The author’s dedication to realism and objectivity lead him to a critical decision of writing the title in a usurping British language. Achebe is arguably optimistic about the idea that Africans will take advantage of the vital aspect of Western culture to grow both economically and politically even if they would not buy the social issues (Maleki and Navidi 12). The first idea is to accept that the organization is weak to fight against cultural imperialism, such as introducing new religion, hence focusing on the elements of the village in which they were reluctant to resist the British invasion (Achebe 140). Achebe avoids painting his novel in anti-African hues to achieve his objective but instead keeps it wholly African. In its English language, the author retains the African perspective, the leitmotif of tribalism in Africa, and utilizes his multilingual abilities to include extensive Igbo language vocabularies (Kenalemang 8). The setting of the book is on the outskirts of Nigeria in a fictional village with the time translating from just before the arrival of white missionaries to the colonial period and focused intentions captures the post-colonial era.
Achebe writes Things Fall Apart to persuade his fellow compatriots to utilize the system of education introduced by missionaries as a means of bettering their lives. Through his choice of scenes and presentation of subjects such as the theme of destiny, it is evident that accepting the educational system would benefit the generation more than resisting it. As a case example, the writer could not have learned by means to communicate to the society through reflecting on their culture and preserving such works to be of use for centuries to come. The author is also determined to take the modern African literature genre to higher levels and prove to the Europeans that Africans have a culture worth it (Kenalemang 7). Therefore, he strikes a balance on modern African society by presenting the essential values from the Igbo community, representing many organized African communities, and the valuable benefits the Whites bring in to Africa, such as education. Therefore, the focus of the book is to help the people living in the post-colonial era to make a wise decision that when they use the advantage of the opportunities presented, they can serve Africa better and even prove to the whites that they are not salvages as the perception the colonial powers gave to the world.
In an advance look at the meaning of post-colonialism, it is the policy of acquiring freedom from an established political control, freedom from settlers, or economic exploitation. From the definition, it is worth referring to post-colonialism as the ‘after colonialism’ or after independence. In the political world, issues to address post-colonialism focus on the wide range of political, cultural, and social events that arose specifically from the fall of European colonialism, most probably after WWII. However, post-colonialism literature highlights more on the consequences of colonialism (Kenalemang 7). Through an examination of the literature of this genre, we get the primary focus of Chinua Achebe’s novel, which he wrote after growing up under the colonial rule of the British in response to the effects of colonization on his culture. Achebe writes back to his white colleagues who misrepresent Africa in their writing and understand the impact of a literature piece on the audience.
Furthermore, colonized peoples are forced to follow the new culture their colony introduced regardless of if they are for it or against it. Post-colonial writers, such as Chinua Achebe, write about how their precious native culture was demolished under the influence of imperialism (Guthrie 13). The novel depicts many festivals, such as the wrestling festival and other cultural, seasonal activities, for instance, locust during the fall of rains. Achebe shows how the people enjoyed these practices, such as moving out with baskets to collect locusts (56). While trying to preserve his culture, the writer is determined to presents the other side, implying that despite many countries gaining independence, they still have long subjection to the forms of neocolonial domination. Therefore, the new post-colonialism remains as a process of reforms and hostility.
In conclusion, Things Fall Apart sought to present the accurate picture of Africa from an African writer who understood his people before the Puritan invasion, during colonization, and after it. As a scholar from Africa, Achebe sought to respond to novels written by white authors on the real form of political, cultural, and economic organization of the Africans before colonization and how the settlement affected the process. Moreover, the novel presents aspects of how Africans can utilize Western culture to advance their skills. Therefore, it is an encouragement in creating an identity of post-colonial Africa.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. William Heinemann Ltd., 1958.
Guthrie, Abigail K. Language, and Identity in Post-colonial African Literature: A Case Study of Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart.” Liberty University, 2011.
Kenalemang, Lame Maatla. Things Fall Apart: An Analysis of Pre and Post-Colonial Igbo Society. 2013. Karlstad University, Bachelor’s thesis.
Maleki, Nasser, and Maryam Navidi. “Foregrounding Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: A Post-colonial Study.” Canadian Social Science, vol. 7, no. 6, 2011, pp. 10-15.