Things Fall Apart is praised as a superb novel that tells the story of life in Nigeria at the end of the nineteenth century. It is without a doubt the most studied African book, having been written in 1958. (Kenalemang 4). The book has sold over 8 million copies and has been translated into fifty different languages. The plot delves further into pre-colonial Nigeria and the reforms brought on by British rule.
The various responses to British rule in Nigeria have typically been divided into two categories: cooperation and opposition. Collaboration was regarded as a symbol of cowardice, incompetence, and betrayal during the colonial period, while defiance was often associated with heroism. Okonkwo who is a protagonist in the Things Fall Apart represents resistance and declines to accept the British rule that has taken over Umuofia.
His village mates choose to accept the reality of British rule over their land. Okonkwo, on the other hand, becomes a symbol of the traditional African way of life. The British new rule bring about modernity, and eastern Nigeria becomes a stage for a clash between traditional African and the European culture (Kenalemang 9). Okonkwo is an embodiment of masculinity in a traditional African culture that attaches great values on masculine traits. Okonkwo is also a hardworking and strict father, a stark contrast to his father Onoka who is lazy. Chinua Achebe, therefore, reinforces the idea of how an African man is supposed to be.
Things Fall Apart introduces readers to traditional Igbo culture, religion, rules, and customs among other social practices. Achebe’s description of Igbo culture paints a picture of a culture rich in traditions, values and customs (Kenalemang 5). His description of Igbo culture undermines the western notion that Africa was a primitive society.
Kenalemang, Lame Maatla. “Things Fall Apart: An Analysis of Pre and Post-Colonial Igbo Society.” Karlstads University (2013). Retrieved Mar. 10, 2017, from www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:648320/fulltext01.pdf