Tuesday 16 December 2014

Anthills of the Savannah, 1987, Chinua Achebe ****

"Anthills of The Savannah" is Chinua Achebe's sixth published work I have read so far. In my opinion, if  this prolific writer was born in a different era, he would have written differently. He did not write for the sake of writing instead he wrote because he felt the dire need to put into writing the history and need of his own people through their own eyes. The Europeans who wrote about Africans at that time simply glorified themselves. Hence, writing was his weapon to fight against all sort of oppression and repression, be it colonial or military dictatorship. As a matter of fact, most of his writings are some sort of codified messages. He always wants one to think and reflect in order to reach their own conclusion. So, he breaks it down in stories, which makes it easier to grasp. Late Chinua Achebe (to me) was a revolutionary and philanthropic writer.

"Anthills of the Savannah" is another work of his that narrates on the dictatorship and suppression of human rights of an invented state, I believe to be Nigeria. Three childhood friends that thought they were the three musketeers; Sam, Chris and Ikem. Chris left his position as the editor in chief of the national newspaper to help his friend Sam set up a government he headed following a coup d'état. Ikem the poet and the most literary of the three, took up Chris' position because he (Chris) was promoted to Commissioner for Information. As the story unfolds, Sam's power went right to his head and he became paranoid, Chris was fully aware that this political circus was not what he bargained for; nonetheless, he preferred to bask in the glow and comfort of his political position. Ikem did what he knew best,  write and give lectures in order to open the people's eyes but the people were not ready to open their eyes. Almost everyone in Kangan was corrupt to the core with a complete distortion of reality and motivated by self-interest. Here are some interesting quotes from the novel that kind of sum up what I meant.
"Agatha who was so free with leaflets dripping with the saving blood of Jesus and yet had no single drop of charity in her own anaemic blood"
"Charity, he thundered is the opium of the privileged;.....While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary".
The beginning of the novel was not an easy read, maybe a bit too political? I read and re-read just to make sure I was getting it clear. However, if you manage to go pass that, there is a whole lot of political tension, intrigue and love story to enjoy. Mind you, it is a serious adult read that was  nominated for the 1987 Man Booker Prize. I recommend to all lovers of politics, history and most importantly all lovers of Chinua Achebe's writings like me.

*His other novels I have read are Things fall apart, No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, The Education of a British Protected Child, A Man of the People

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  1. Great review, Mary. I read this book a long time ago at the uni. And I enjoyed it so well I guess mainly because we had our lecturer explaining and analyzing it for us. Thanks for the memories.


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