Things Fall Apart
Nigerian acclaimed writer Chinua Achebe was successful to disprove the West on their perspectives and depictions of his native African culture through his novel Things Fall Apart published in 1958. This eye-opening piece reflects that what the non-African—commonly the white men’s accounts of how primitive, socially backward, and language-less native Africans were (sparknotes.com) can be reversed by presenting the richness of its ethnicity and language.
Generally focused on tradition and how it struggled to nourish its span over the inexorably changes it encounters, and the different faces of masculinity and how the characters portrayed it on their own understanding. The postcolonial critique novel served as the author’s answer to the earlier written book like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which is indignation to his native land and race. Things Fall Apart greatly captured the interest not only the people from the same continent Achebe was born, but also to the European which made big roles to the desecration of their indigenous culture by colonizing and changing them. It can be found on the part where Mr. Brown appeared and began discussing to convert the people from the Umoufia Clan to Christianity, until Reverend Smith took over and suddenly wanted entire changes, from religious belief, rules of law and society customs.
However, the main character Okonkwo who lived under the Clan’s tradition and belief never had an easy understanding towards the changes that happened to his clansmen upon his return from his seven-year exile. The things they believed and used to, and the Gods they praised seemed to be no longer what it supposed to be on his expectation. He has his stand and remained adamant towards the changes that he cannot simply adapt to, because he knows he’s following and living with the kind of society and culture that must not be altered by anybody. That part shows the independence and resistance of the tribesmen towards change because they are part of that society and society molded them to what they became.
Furthermore, at the end of Chapter 20, Obierika points out that there is no way that the white man will be able to understand Umuofia’s customs without understanding its language. This idea mirrors one of Achebe’s purposes in writing Things Fall Apart: the book serves not only to remind the West that Africa has language and culture but also to provide an understanding of Igbo culture through language (sparknotes.com), negating the demarcation of Africa being language-less.
On the other aspect, the story of this novel closely related to Greek Mythologies, as Okonkwo who supposed to be the hero had his tragic downfall at the end only because of inability to adapt change.
Though born from a Protestant Missionary, Albert Chinualumogu Achebe (November 16, 1930) was raised multicultural and lived according to many aspects of traditional Igbo in a large village of Ogidi, Nigeria. He grew up reading stories of how pathetic Africans were, so he came up with this book repairing the damages of those works on their race. Because he wanted everyone—including their colonizers to be enlightened, he used English language on his writing, while keeping the rhythms, cadences, speech patterns and few Igbo phrases and verses to keep his work authentic. Achebe insists that the book is actually a social commentary on the need to be able to change and be flexible in life, and not totally biased in its portrayal to colonialism as it presents the economic benefits of cross-cultural contact and reveals the villagers’ delight in the hospital’s treatment of illnesses (Chapter 21).
No wonder this became a breakthrough in African Literature because of its significance in educating every individual—including me—from different continent and race concerning the inaccurate stereotypes and providing answers to those. Maybe, if this book wasn’t published and reached mainstream or anybody with the same upbringing like Achebe had, numerous people will remain unaware of the prosperity of culture Africa long before has. And probably forever doomed in saying it was a primordial, language-less and socially-backward place.