I was walking down the streets of Obalende, Lagos the other day when I glanced at a particular book seller. I had not planned to buy any book but as I caught the sight of ‘Things fall Apart’, I changed my mind immediately. I ended up buying it together with two other books.
Things Fall Apart was written by Chinua Achebe and first published in 1958. It centers around a man named Okonkwo, his clan and their traditional way of life. Okonkwo, a very successful man amongst his clan unlike his father was well known for his warrior skills in Umuofia village. He was quite popular, no wonder he was chosen to take care of Ikemefuna (a young boy given to Umuofia by Mbaifo village as compensation for killing one of Umuofia’s wives) till his matter was decided by the Oracle. Eventually, the Oracle declared that he should be killed. Despite his affection for the young boy, Okonkwo still took part in the killing just to prove his strength to his fellow men.
During the burial of an old man, Okonkwo mistakenly killed the son of the dead man. As the custom demands, he was sent on exile to his motherland for 7 years. During the span of these 7 years, the Christian missionaries were gaining ground in the town of Umuofia much to Okonkwo’s disgust. Upon his return after the exile, Okonkwo took part in burning down the church. He was imprisoned and released on bail.This incident did nothing but fueled his anger. His desire to cause war was burning deep and this led him to kill one of the messengers of the white government. Knowing the consequence of his actions, Okonkwo took his own life so as to avoid being tried in the court.
Things Fall Apart brings to the audience the archaic manner the older generation lived, way back before civilization. Back when practices such as abandoning of twins, mutilating ‘ogbanje’ children, worshiping of idols amongst others were rampant in villages. It is surprising to us now how people lived and believed in those outrageous practices back then.
I enjoyed the book though. I would give it a 7/10.
~“Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings.”-Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart~