Colonialism In Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart, written by Chinua Achebe and published originally in 1958, follows the life of Okonkwo, a member of the Nigerian Igbo culture, as European colonists arrive to Africa. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo and his family struggle through their day to day life, only made worse by the integration of European society in the village. Instead of offering the readers the more familiar, if not overtold, perspective of Europeans colonizing Africa, Achebe introduces a completely foreign culture. As the reader becomes more accustomed to the Igbo culture, the arrival of the Europeans can be better understood from both sides; while colonial apologists’ perspective is well known, Achebe criticizes colonialism from a fresh perspective. Achebe …show more content…
In Chapter 20, a conversation between Okonkwo and Obierika reveals the villagers’ sentiments on the matter. When speaking on the white man 's effect on the village culture, Obierika says, “The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peacefully 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 (20, 177).” Indeed, the introduction of missionaries, converting villagers, caused divides amongst the people, as the Igbo practices and ‘paganism’ start to be doubted and seen as flawed. Okonkwo, forced upon this after returning from exile, later realizes he cannot stop this unjust and horrible attack to his way of life, and commits suicide, an offense ironically of great disrespect in his ways. Achebe uses this to show a moral of the story: change must be accepted, or suffer the consequences. Okonkwo was stubborn and inflexible to change, a quality that served him fine in his life before the Europeans, but ultimately led to his demise with them. This realization, both in Okonkwo and the reader, allows Achebe to showcase change as a force not interpretable as good or bad; the impact of colonial life on the traditional societies of Africa affected …show more content…
However, Achebe’s call back to his roots offers the readers a perspective many of us will not be able to experience first hand: a rich, exciting African culture, torn at and destroyed by the the introduction of European imperialism. The last sentences of Achebe’s novel are in the eyes of the European District Commissioner, who states how he will release a book, “The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger (25,209).” After reading the novel, the reader can understand this tribe is far from primitive, and that the Commissioner, leading the cultural invasion of the Igbo cultural, did not bring peace, but rather caused more distress among the people of the village. Coupled with the major moral of accepting change, Achebe’s theme of the impact of colonialism on traditional African cultures allows for self reflection; the perspective of the Africans on the horrors of the destruction of their culture is easily accepted and understood, for Achebe has allowed us to see through their eyes and become somewhat understanding of their ways. Seeing the impacts of being stubborn to change, be it positive or negative, allows the readers to see that they must be willing to accept change, even if it is difficult. There is a fine line

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