How does Achebe depict Ibo culture in ‘Things Fall Apart’?
Chinua Achebe’s, Things Fall Apart, is a story of a traditional village in Nigeria from inside Umuofia around the late 1800s. This novel depicts late African history and shows how the British administrative structure, in the form of the European Anglican Church, imposed its religion and trappings on the cultures of Africa, which they believed was uncivilized. This missionary zeal subjugated large native populations. Consequently, the native traditions gradually disappeared and in time the whole local social structure within which the indigenous people had lived successfully for centuries was destroyed. Achebe spends the first half of the novel depicting the Ibo culture, by itself, in both a sophisticated and primitive light describing and discussing its grandeur, showing its strengths and weaknesses, etiquettes and incivilities, and even the beginning of cultural breakdown before the introduction of the missionaries. The collapse of the old culture is evident soon after the missionaries arrived, and here Achebe utilises two of the primary missionary figures, Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith, to once again depicts both sides of the Ibo culture between them, with Mr. Brown depicting the sophisticated and Mr. Smith depicting the primitive aspects.
The main focus in this novel is on one man, Okonkwo, the protagonist who symbolises the many Nigerians, or Africans who were struggling against the white missionaries, who brought their religion and policies and imposed them on Okonkwo’s and the other surrounding tribes. Achebe also shows how great the effect is when something as seemingly un-invasive, such as a church, is set up in a Nigerian or African Culture. Among other issues, Achebe illustrates clearly the way the white Europeans see things from their cultures perspective. An example of this is shown when the District Commissioner describes the Ibo as people from “...Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.”...
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