Book Review: Things Fall Apart

thingsfallapartBook: Things Fall Apart–fiction

Author: Chinua Achebe

One of the first African novel that got worldwide praise. Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian, in this novel he documents Africa’s spiritual history. He explores the culture of the Igbo before the arrival of European missionaries and colonization.

The book has several themes that are central to the story:

  1. 1. Gender
  2. 2. Family
  3. 3. Respect and Reputation
  4. 4. Fear
  5. 5. Religion
  6. 6. Sin
  7. 7. Traditions and Customs
  8. Men and the Natural World
  9. Fate and Free Will
  10. Language and Communication

Favorite Quote: “Okonkwo was well-known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. Amalinze was the great wrestler who for seven years was unbeaten, form Umuofia to Maino”

 

Things Fall Apart  by Chinua Achebe is divided into three parts, and in the first two sections, the novel depicts the life of the Ibo people at the end of the 1800s, before colonization and the invasion of missionaries. Missionaries from the West and colonial administrator arrive and disrupt the ways, beliefs and life of the villagers, who do not know how to adapt to change. The villagers are viewed as primitive, yet as the story unfolds, Achebe skillfully demonstrates the weaknesses in both systems, that of the villages and those of the new arrivals There is no true dialogue between both parties.

After the exile, Okwonko and his family return to Umuofia and find a very changed place. He has also lost his standing in society and is very determined to reclaim it. There is a clash between the villagers and the Christian missionaries and colonizers. Okwonko also doesn’t know how to adapt to change or even want to.

“He [Okwonko] sprang to his feet as soon as he saw who it was. He confronted the head messenger, trembling with hate, unable to utter a word. The man was fearless and stood his ground, his four men lined up behind him. In that brief moment the world seemed to stand still, waiting. There was utter silence….The spell was broken by the head messenger. ‘Let me pass!’ he ordered. ‘What do you want here?’ ‘The white man whose power you know too well has ordered this meeting to stop.’ In a flash Okonkwo drew his machete. The messenger crouched to avoid the blow. It was useless. Okonkwo’s machete descended twice and the man’s head lay beside his uniformed body…. Okonkwo stood looking at the dead man. He knew Umuofia would not go to war….He heard voices asking: ‘Why did he do it’…”

 

Recommendation: . I recommend Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe because it gives us insights into how a society is impacted by colonization from their point of view and also demonstrates the importance of open dialogue with people who are perceived to be different from us.