Chinua Achebe (1930- 2013) published his first novel Things Fall Apart (TFA) in 1958.
Achebe wrote TFA in response to European novels that depicted Africans as savages who
needed to be enlightened by the Europeans. Achebe presents to the reader his peopleâ€™s history
with both strengths and imperfections by describing for example, Igbo festivals, the worship
of their gods and the practices in their ritual ceremonies, their rich culture and other social
practices, the colonial era that was both stopping Igbo culture and also brought in some
benefits to their culture. TFA therefore directs the misleading of European novels that depict
Africans as savages into a whole new light with its portrayal of Igbo society, and examines
the effects of European colonialism on Igbo society from an African perspective. Hence this
essay is an attempt to show an insight of pre and post colonialism on Igbo society. It ...view middle of the document...
Hence, this essay aims at analysing the effects of European colonisation on Igbo culture.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century most European states migrated to Africa and other parts of the world where they established colonies. Nigeria was amongst other African nations that received visitors who were on a colonising mission; introducing their religion and culture that is later imposed on Igbo. The culture of the people of Umuofia (Igbo culture) is immensely threatened by this change.
Achebeâ€™s primary purpose of writing the novel is because he wants to educate his readers about the value of his culture as an African. Things Fall Apart provides readers with an insight of Igbo society right before the white missionariesâ€™ invasion on their land. The invasion of the colonising force threatens to change almost every aspect of Igbo society; from religion, traditional gender roles and relations, family structure to trade.
Consequently, Achebe blames the white missionariesâ€™ colonial rule and/or invasion for the post-colonial oppressed Igbo culture; this oppression can be seen in terms of the oppressed social coherence between the individual and their society. Furthermore, Achebe educates readers extensively about Igbo societyâ€™s myths and proverbs.
Before Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart, all the novels that had been written about Africa and Africans were written by Europeans. Mostly, the European writings described Africans as uncivilised and uneducated persons. The Europeans, seeing that they thought of themselves as more advanced than Africans, were determined to help Africans shift from the old era into the modern era of civilisation and education.
Heart of Darkness, for instance, by Joseph Conrad was one of the most read novels around the time of its publication in 1899. Conrad described Africa as a â€œwild, â€˜darkâ€™, and uncivilised continentâ€ (Sickels 1). Following Conradâ€™s novel in 1952 was Mister Johnson, a novel by Joyce Cary. Like Heart of Darkness, Mister Johnson was also quite a popular read;