Oct 062016

“Things Fall Apart”, a novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe given to me 35 years ago.

Chinua Achebe died in 2013, in Boston.

I hate to offer only two insights from his impressive legacy.   Maybe the links will compensate.

On the subject of violence in our communities,  wherever in the world they may be:

from   Chinua Achebe talking about Things Fall Apart  to the BBC World Service, World Book Club in 2008:


 . . .  actually the story of Okonkwo (Things Fall Apart) is almost like a parallel story to the story of his community.    His community is not very gentle in its behaviour.  The cruelty that we see in Okonkwo is actually a reflection of cruelty in the society itself.    The crimes Okonkwo commits, in the sort of cosmic sense, the crime against women – –  in a way his community is also guilty of this.  It’s not  a question of which one was it that caused the falling apart.  It’s this complex of events.  And then you add onto it the invasion of the community by Europe.  So it’s when you put all this together that you say, this is why things fall apart   . . .

From the Q & A:

QUESTION:   In the final chapter – –  lamenting the plight of the people,  said that things were falling apart because people were turning away from the old ways and were readily accepting the ways of the missionaries.  You recently mentioned that you couldn’t return to Nigeria  because things were getting worse and worse.  And I just wanted to know what you attribute as the reason for things falling apart in present-day Nigeria?

ANSWER:   My analysis is that it’s bad leadership.    By leadership I don’t mean just one person, the president or the prime-minister, but I mean a whole class of leaders,  leaders in different spheres who have fallen short of their responsibility.   If you look at what is going on now in Nigeria I sometimes wonder   Where are the people?  I mean educated people.  Nigeria has the resources, human and material,  to a degree that would make many, many countries envious  and yet   why are they allowing themselves to be bullied,  to be  bullied by one dictator or a bunch of dictators?   I don’t know   I think we have not got it right.

(To listen to the full interview:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01lhl6g)

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The New Yorker

After Empire
Chinua Achebe and the great African novel.


 This is lengthy.  It has more depth than many of the articles written about Achebe.    I hope the link remains good!

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May 27, 2013

Chinua Achebe: A literary legend


Chinua Achebe (pronounced Chee-noo-ah Ah-chay-bay) is considered by many critics and teachers to be the most influential African writer of his generation. His writings, including the novel Things Fall Apart, have introduced readers throughout the world to creative uses of language and form, as well as to factual inside accounts of modern African life and history. Not only through his literary contributions but also through his championing of bold objectives for Nigeria and Africa, Achebe has helped reshape the perception of African history, culture, and place in world affairs.

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Things Fall Apart is a milestone in African literature. …. has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.[3] .,, Time Magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.[9] The novel has been translated into more than fifty languages, and is often used in literature, world history, and African studies courses across the world.

. . .   Much of the critical discussion about Things Fall Apart concentrates on the socio-political aspects of the novel, including the friction between the members of Igbo society as they confront the intrusive and overpowering presence of Western government and beliefs.  Ernest N. Emenyonu commented that “Things Fall Apart is indeed a classic study of cross-cultural misunderstanding and the consequences to the rest of humanity, when a belligerent culture or civilization, out of sheer arrogance and ethnocentrism, takes it upon itself to invade another culture, another civilization.”[10]

. . . Before Things Fall Apart was published, Europeans had written most novels about Africa, and they largely portrayed Africans as savages who needed to be enlightened by Europeans. Achebe broke apart this view by portraying Igbo society in a sympathetic light, which allows the reader to examine the effects of European colonialism from a different perspective.[6] He commented, “The popularity of Things Fall Apart in my own society can be explained simply… this was the first time we were seeing ourselves, as autonomous individuals, rather than half-people, or as Conrad would say, ‘rudimentary souls’.”[7]

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