Civil Peace: Introduction
One of Africa's foremost contemporary authors and spokespeople Chinua Achebe has always taken as a primary concern understanding and accurately depicting the African people. In 1964, he wrote that the writer's duty ‘‘is to explore in depth the human condition.’’ In his pre-civil war novels, Achebe focused on the culture of his people and their emergence from colonial powers. However, with the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war, Achebe embraced the revolutionary spirit. Not only did he serve as a diplomat, bringing eastern Nigeria's message overseas, and write radio programs about the cause, he also found himself unable to work on long fictional works during this period. Even two years after the war ended, he felt no urge to work on a novel. He did, however, write three short stories concerning the civil war, all of which were collected in the short fiction volume, Girls at War and Other Stories. "Civil Peace,’’ which first appeared in print in 1971, takes place in the immediate post-war period. Focusing not on the hardships and devastation of the war but on the new opportunities to rebuild, the story has struck many critics for its optimism and positive outlook. At the same time, "Civil Peace'' insidiously demonstrates the similarities between Nigeria during the war and after the war—during both periods, violence and corruption can emerge at any time. Achebe believes that the African writer must function as a social critic, and in ‘‘Civil Peace,'' he shares two co-existing views of the postwar Nigerian state. Civil Peace Summary
‘‘Civil Peace’’ opens in eastern Nigeria after the civil war has ended. Jonathan Iwegbu considers himself and his family lucky. He, his wife, Maria, and three of their four children are alive. He even has maintained possession of his old bicycle, which he puts to use as a taxi. His taxi service allows him to make money, and within two weeks, he has earned £150. Jonathan then...
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