Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was the book that sparked my desire to reclaim my time! I do this by -only- mostly reading stories written by Black and African authors.
In re-reading Things Fall Apart as an adult, I see things a bit differently— at least in my conclusions about Okonkwo. Okonkwo is at best a tragic hero; and at worst, an abomination in Igbo culture.
In the end, I am so hurt by how things end for Okonkwo and Umuofia, that I am filled with rage. I will read this book once a year to get a reminder—rooted in history— of why reclaiming my time is crucial.
Chinua Achebe’s writing is both purposeful and powerful. The pre-colonial setting provides a glimpse into what life might have been like before the British colonialists descended in Nigeria under the guise of Christianity.
Obierika, Okonkwo’s best friend and a voice of reason throughout the novel, poses the following questions to Okonkwo in Chapter 20.
“Does the white man understand our custom about land?”
“How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad.”
“How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us?”
Obierika then draws a poignant conclusion.
“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.”
This book has and will continue to stand the test of time. It is a masterpiece that speaks volumes about the grotesque impact of colonialism in Nigeria. The story also shines a light on the consequences of embracing change over tradition, or becoming a relic, over adapting to a new way of life.
Things Fall Apart is the first book in the African Trilogy that includes No Longer at Ease, and Arrow of God.
Read these short stories by Chinua Achebe.