Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart
Courtesy of Amazon.com

“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

—Chinua Achebe

Before I came to university, I was ignorant of many things; one of those things was the rich history of Africa and how it came to be in its present state. After taking a course on the history of the region, I wanted to learn more. Achebe’s Things Fall Apart provides a profound look into the West African society before colonialism. It demonstrates the structure, wisdom, and ingenuity Africans have always possessed and how stealthily the Europeans moved in to seize the minds, and thus the resources, of the continent. This classic novel brought the historical facts to life through intriguing prose and complex characters. I enjoyed it because it showed me a land that I know nothing of, despite it being the home of my ancestors.

Things Fall Apart is the first installment in a three-book series called The African Trilogy, which also includes No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God. All three novels tell the tale of colonialism from different viewpoints and in different ages. I recommend them all, especially if you desire to learn more about African history.

Per Amazon.com, “Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul”.

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