“Things Fall Apart” Essay

“Things Fall Apart” Essay
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Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” had an objective of communicating the superiority of African culture and addressing the adverse effects of colonialism in Africa. The book provides an overview of the strength of African culture as well as the shortcomings as opposed to all the earlier publications which only explained about the negative aspects of African culture. Achebe’s book is therefore the foundation towards understanding African culture and the cultural transformations that have been taking place right from the pre colonial time, through the colonial time and finally during post colonial era.

Adverse Effects of Colonialism

The novel whose setting is the Nigerian village of Umuofia, explains the condition of the African way of life just before the arrival of the European missionaries and the changes that immediately began due to their arrival. In this story, the villagers at first did not know how to respond to the new changes that came as a result of the influence from the missionaries. The missionaries had the main goal of changing the African culture and social institutions, thus the novel aims at revealing the adverse effects of colonialism to African way of life.

Most European states were on the final touches towards completing the process of establishing their spheres of influence towards the end of the nineteenth century. While introducing Christianity as a new religion and replacing African culture with that of the West it means that African culture was going to be a matter of the past and Africans opposed the idea. This is because Africans believed in their own culture which they had inherited from their ancestors over a long time and strongly unites them into one unit sharing all the good and bad that affects the community. The foreign culture was therefore a threat to their unity and cohesion.

The novel mostly aimed at educating the readers about the quality of African culture more specifically the Ibo people before the coming of the Europeans in Africa. The invasion from the colonialists indiscriminately aimed at changing everything right from religion, gender relationships as well as the family structure. In the real sense, according to the novel, some of the African traditional practices were perfect enough and did not require any kind of interference or change from outsiders. The colonialists did not want to accept the idea that some indigenous African cultural practices were even better than the ideas they came up with (Kenalemang, 2013).

The novel reveals the battle between the Europeans and Africans in terms of superiority in the context of civilization. It sets the foundation towards understanding the conflict between tradition and modernity in the African context. Before Chinua’s novel, all the previous novels came from European authors who were just writing in favor of the European civilization and undermining that of Africans. The novel therefore came to intercept the negative ideas expressed by the European authors about African culture in order to restore African dignity and honor (Kenalemang, 2013).
On basis of the ideas that European writers like Conrad and Cary that saw the humiliation of Africans, the novel intervened and explained about African culture and its people to explain the similarities and differences, both the strengths and weaknesses of the African culture. The European works were therefore a misrepresentation of the reality about African culture. The story therefore influenced many people around the world to start appreciating African culture and learn more to understand the reality. The people started moving out of the belief that Africa is a dirk continent and started seeing some of the hidden light in its people.

However, the story encourages Africans to take advantage of the education imparted by the visitors and improve their living conditions. The story, according to Kenalemang (2013) is not against the new education system and does not aim to oppose everything that came from the visitors but to reveal the truth about African people and their culture with the aim of connecting Africa with the rest of the world. The story also uplifts the modern literature genus of Africans and provides a proof to the Europeans that African culture is valuable and requires a high degree of respect and honor.

Achebe’s story is the most successful one of all the stories written at the time because it is more critical in addressing the role of the Christian religion in Africa. His critics are more moderate and his creative piece of writing is well accepted universally as objective. The writer is also credited for the fluency in the use of the English language and excellent techniques in expressing his ideas. The novel reveals equally both the perfect and the imperfect sides of the African culture. The story thus clearly aimed at solving the problem of negative stereotyping against African culture rather than retaliating against the former European writers. The novel is therefore relevant for analyzing postcolonial denigration since this depends on the colony of which the author comes from (Kenalemang, 2013).


The story builds the foundation towards a critical understanding of African culture and the effects of colonialism. Through the story one can learn important literal techniques of expressing ideas in a manner that can be understood more easily even by people who are not experts in the field. The story lays the foundation for understanding cultural developments and the struggle between tradition and modernity.

Kenalemang, L. M. (2013). Things Fall Apart: An Analysis of Pre and Post-Colonial Igbo Society. Retrieved from http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:648320/FULLTEXT01.pdf