Colonism in Things Fall Apart

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Colonism in Things Fall Apart

This essay will examine the theme of colonialism in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart.” It will discuss how the novel portrays the effects of colonialism on Igbo society, focusing on cultural conflicts, the impact on traditional values, and the clash between indigenous and colonial systems. The piece will also consider Achebe’s critique of the colonial narrative and his portrayal of the complexity and richness of Igbo culture. At PapersOwl too, you can discover numerous free essay illustrations related to Chinua Achebe.

Category:Chinua Achebe
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Nigerian author named, Chinua Achebe, authored a novel which was entitled as Things Fall Apart,’ which was published in the year 1958. The novel was an attempt by the author to present the true image of the African society, through the literature, which has always been depicted as an uncivilized and backward society in the literature of the foreign languages. The author included the story, as well as the transition of a Nigerian tribe from the traditional society to the colonialist society, after the arrival of the English men in the area.

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Colonialism has been one of the major themes in the story of Chinua Achebe, as he attempts to show that the Nigerian society had its own distinct culture, which was declared as uncivilized by the Englishmen. The colonial era, depicted in Things Fall Apart,’ may have attempted to show the changes in the Nigerian society; however, it highlights the fact that white men robbed the natives from their traditional practices, religion, and political and economic supremacy.

Chinua Achebe, in his novel, depicted the Nigerians society which had it won traditional practices; however, colonialism put an end to them. In Things Fall Apart,’ Achebe has described the story of an old man, who worked hard in his whole life, to show to his society that he was strong enough to take major decisions for the supremacy of their traditions and society. To prove his masculinity and strength of his character to his tribe, he even killed his adopted son; however, it resulted in his exile from his land. The people of that area believed in several gods and goddesses, however, when he came back to his land, the people had forgotten their traditions and were being influenced by the practices of the white men. Achebe described the arrival and influence of the white men over the native people in words,
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 (Chinua, 73).

He described that the white men started interfering in the daily life of the native people and stopped them from practicing their traditional beliefs, as it did not match with their beliefs. It is also one of the major reasons that they declared the people of African region as uncivilized because they were unable to understand them due to the communication barrier and lack of understanding of language. Due to their unique ideas and belief, they attracted the local community and made them act against their own people by following the commands of the white people.

Colonialism impacted the religious practices of the African society and made the people convert to Christianity. Achebe has shown through his novel that the white society looked down upon the African people because of the differences of their religion. African tribes worshipped several gods and offered their sacrifices to them. On the other hand, the white people became the part of the African society and started preaching their religion of believing in one god. Achebe included the description that “New churches were established in the surrounding villages and a few schools with them. From the very beginning, religion and education went hand in hand (Chinua, 75). The white men were not able to understand the value and importance of the native people, due to lack of understanding of local language, so instead of trying to know their religion, they declared it wrong and started preaching their religion and educating the people from their perspective. The religion which was a binding force for the na??ve people became a dividing factor, causing havoc in the society.

Colonialism also impacted the political and economic situation of the African tribes. Instead of supporting the traditions, culture, and practices of the local people, the white men criticized them and declared them as backward. Achebe mention in his writing, “The white man, had indeed brought a lunatic religion, but he had also built a trading store, and for the first-time palm-oil and kernel became things of great price, and much money flowed into Umuofia (Chinua, 73). They changed the political and economic practices of the native people and gradually took control of the society in their hand, by dividing the local people over the conflict of religion. In one of his articles, Achebe mentioned that the white society wanted to prove the African societies as savage and uncivilized, just because they wanted to capture their land and resources. He mentioned that, Quite simply it is the desire — one might indeed say the need — in Western psychology to set Africa up as a foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe’s own state of spiritual grace will be manifest (Achebe, 14).

The west wanted to explore other areas of the world and declare its supremacy in the whole world. If they would have tried to take control by force, it would have wasted their own resources, so they used the strategy of trading and creating conflict based on religion and became rulers by dividing the public. Although, the white men created conflict, however, some native people also supported them as described by the author, The destruction and crumbling down of Igbo life is not totally due to the intervention of colonizers through their religion and government. Many Igbo willingly join the religion brought by the colonizers as they find that some certain customs prevailing in their society are irrational evils (Purwarno, and Suhendi, 674). The native people, who killed the twins to get rid of evil, started accepting the beliefs of Christianity that life and death are in the hands of God. The religion which had united the people played an important role in dividing them and roots of conflict were sown by colonialism in the African societies.

Colonialism is an important theme of Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart,’ in which he has shown that the western societies which considered the African communities as uncivilized, played an important role in making them so. The African communities were well-organized and had their own religion, beliefs, traditions and political as well as economic structure. The western societies wanted to establish their supremacy, and that was possible through their rule on the native people. So, they used religion and traditional practices as the source of creating conflict among the local people and became the master of their political and economic structure, by capturing the rule. They negatively portrayed African society, to increase their gain and show to the world that they were trying to civilize an uncivilized and savage society. Colonialism provided more harm to the African communities because it snatched the unity of the native people and made them fight with each other.

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Colonism in Things Fall Apart. (2020, Jan 05). Retrieved from