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More on Achebe

One thing you have to say for Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is that he does not prettify tribal life. He shows how some people are condemned to outcast status by virtue of heredity, how twins are left out to die because they are taken to be some kind of evil cosmic mistake, and how Christianity offered a way to dignity for people abused by tribal custom. For good measure, the tribal society is also polygamous and the main character Okonkwo sometimes beats his wives, or at least one of them. Worst of all, an innocent young boy must die for a crime committed by a member of his tribe, in retributive justice. At the same time, Achebe does show that there was a certain logic and order and even beauty to tribal society, all of which will be greatly disturbed by the arrival of the British.
Achebe continues his exposure of the African-European encounter in his next novel, No Longer at Ease, in which he shows how tribal customs and expectations persist even under colonial rule, and how a young man is expected by his tribe to gain boons for them once he is employed by the colonial government. This is the groundwork for the notorious corruption of modern African societies.
Achebe’s later novels deal with Africa after independence, and are just as honest about exposing the problems in African society and experiments with self-rule. Characters sometimes wish the British were back.
The title Things Fall Apart comes from Yeats and No Longer at Ease from Eliot. Achebe thus establishes a continuity with the Western novel.

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