Things Fall Apart, a compass For Igbo Culture
Things Fall Apart is a timeless book and an extraordinary read. It was penned by Chinua Achebe, one of Africa’s biggest writers. He wrote droves of interesting and captivating materials that catapulted him to world renowned status. Books like Arrow of God, Anthills of the Savannah, No longer at ease and There Was a Country were phenomenal best-sellers across the globe. However, Things Fall Apart, marked a pivotal point in Achebe outstanding career.
Jovago.com, Africa’s No 1 Hotel Booking Portal takes a cursory look at how Chinua used his writings especially in the book Things Fall Apart to promote the Igbo culture and tradition to different readers, in far flung parts of the world.
Things Fall Apart
Tagged a classic, Things Fall Apart is a post-colonial novel written in 1958; two years before Nigeria’s independence. It tells the tragic tale of Okonkwo, a vivacious man with strong values and showcases the clash between colonialism and traditional Ibo society.
The book ably summarizes the palpable tension between villagers who firmly believe in their set ways and the colonialists, who according to a quote from the book were treated with disaffection by a people were averse to the religion and education brought to their homeland by wandering men.
“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.”
The Igbos of Eastern Nigeria
Grounded in culture and tradition, the Igbos have birthplaces in states like Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo. Over the years, they’ve been known to celebrate festivals, preserve their age long culture and blend the old and the new to create a symphony between past and present.
However, most of the young generation from that region and indeed other tribes of Nigeria are far removed from their traditions. This notwithstanding, it does not downplay the depth and richness of the Igbo culture but books like Things Fall Apart serve as an excellent way to preserve the culture no matter how far off young ones are disconnected from their tradition and values.
Promoting the Igbo Culture with Things Fall Apart
From the very opening of the book, we are introduced to the Greatness of Okonkwo. His might and his façade sent shivers down the spine of his wives. He abhorred laziness and disliked everything his father liked.
How did Okonkwo become great? By wrestling. Wrestling showed your strength and if you were known as a champion, you automatically became one of the lords of the lands. The show of strength revealed your ability to control your household and women folk; this is something Okonkwo did perfectly. However, his uncontrollable anger led to his downfall.
Another important fact that can’t be overlooked is the use of PROVERBS. Things Fall Apart is spiced with an uncountable numbers of proverbs from the beginning to the end. This quote ultimately reflects the importance of refined wisdom in Igbo culture;
“…Having spoken plainly so far, Okoye said the next half a dozen sentences in proverbs. Among the Ibo, the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten. Okoye was a great talker and he spoke for a long time, skirting round the subject and then hitting it finally.
“The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.”
Other Igbo cultural valuations that Chinua Achebe promoted in his book include the fact that the ‘Igbos have no King’. This was clearly seen when Okonkwo was banished from the village to Mbanta and how the women folk were treated after his exit from the town.
Indeed, Chinua Achebe loved his culture passionately which is seen in his all books and style of writing. His books promoted Igbo culture just like D.O. Fagunwa did with Yoruba literature.
Despite been a well-travelled and award winning author, his Igbo cultural background did radiate. With these literature, especially things fall apart, they can reliably be a platform charting the compass for Igbo and Nigerian cultural/traditional recovery.