“Things fall apart, the center cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” (Achebe). In his postcolonial tragedy, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe writes about the collapse of the Ibo African tribal system due to the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. Achebe focuses on “both what was strong and what was weak in the African past” (Appiah). He traces back the roots of his people to the “moment when [they] lost [their] initiative to other people, to colonizers” (Appiah). Throughout his novel Achebe shows the effects the Ibo culture experiences when Christian colonizers arrive. Ibo culture was thriving in Nigeria, up until the Europeans arrived. Along with them they brought Christianity. The Christians disapproved of many of the Ibos superstitions, and encouraged them to break several of their traditions. For example, in the Ibo culture when a mother bore a set of twins, it was said to be a bad omen from the gods. “Twins were put in earthenware pots and thrown away in the forest” (Achebe). The Christians were outraged that the Ibos did this to innocent children. The Christians then said that the Ibos gods were that of “deceit who tell [them] to kill [their] fellows and destroy innocent children” (Achebe). Christians believed that “there is only one true God and he has the earth, the sky…and all of us” (Achebe). They wanted all the killings of children to stop. Some of the Ibos converted to Christianity because they had been emotionally affected by the killings of twins. Like any other culture, the Ibo had its strong and weak points. The culture is heavy in traditions and laws that focus on justice and fairness. The people are not ruled by a king or chief, but by a kind of democratic form of government, where the males get together and make decisions according to an Oracle. For the most part, the culture was very just. However, just like any other culture, the Ibo did have their weak points. Some of the things the Ibo people did were very controversial; as mentioned earlier, killing twins and innocent children. In the novel, the night Ikemefuna was killed, “something seemed to give away inside [Nwoye], like the snapping of a tightened bow” (Achebe). He had been emotionally attached to Ikemefuna; he was like an older brother to Nwoye. He was deeply hurt when he found out that Ikemefuna had been killed. He felt betrayed by his father. He didn’t want to live in a world where innocent people were killed. He later converted to Christianity. Achebe shows the positive and negative affect of two very different cultures clashing together. He clearly expressed; the strong and weak points of the Ibo culture, the importance of the arrival of the European colonizers and missionaries, and the positive and negative effects this had on the Ibo culture.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Knoff, 1992. Print. Appiah, Kwame A. Introduction. Things Fall Apart. New York: Knoff, 1992. Print.