Sunday 21 October 2012

The African Trilogy: Part 1; Things Fall Apart, 1958, by Chinua Achebe *****

This is the third time I have read this book and it felt like the first time. Click here to read my previous review.
As I earlier told someone, I did not know that Things Fall Apart was part of a  trilogy until I met a friend who asked me if I had read the second and third part of the story, I looked at her jaw-dropping and eye-popping while I replied no. I could not imagine how this very well-known book written by a renowned author from my hometown could be part of a trilogy without my knowledge. I investigated a bit and voilà! It was true.
People who knew my love for Chinua Achebe, gave me the remaining part of the novel as gift and I will forever be grateful for it nevertheless, I can't start reading them without reading Things fall Apart again, hence I read it for the third time.
Almost everyone has read this very well acclaimed novel that narrates the famous story of the consequence of the British colony on the Igbo people (Eastern Nigeria), these people here represent thousands of other ethnic groups in Africa because this story could have been about any African tribe (or ethnic group) anyway.
This widely read novel today all over the world is a great insight into the life of the Igbos before  and at the beginning of the colonial rule. It narrates the story of Okonkwo who is determined to be everything his weak and "lazy" father was not which was fame, huge, wide, loud, hot tempered, successful  and more. Because in his culture then a man with all those qualities is considered to be a prestigious man. He puts his tradition first  
"The law of the land must be obeyed"  
and reproached anybody who would have doubt about the custom of his land, even though it included the throwing away of twins in the forest, killing human beings of other clans in the name of sacrifice, forbidding a man with an ozo title to climb a palm tree, etc.
This story was focused on (not only)  Okonkwo's every day life, the way he interacted with his family, his friends and other members of his clan. One day, during a funeral ceremony, he accidentally committed a crime, whereupon he had to spend seven years in exile, during which, the white man established a new practice in his village that, in most cases treated them as inferior. At the end of his banishment, Okonkwo wanted to regain his status among his clansmen  and most of all he wanted to get rid of  the white man and his new tradition. Did he succeed?
This book is nearest my heart because, it tells the story of my culture (my people) in an eye opening way. It thoroughly explained our way of life then and, it was a helpful insight into the early influence of the British Colony on the Igbos.

Many quotes and conversation in this book  drew my attention but, I can't quote them all, the following conversation made me burst into laughter.
'The world is larg',said Okonkwo. 'I have even heard that in some tribes a man's children belong to his wives and her family'
That cannot be true said Machi. 'You might as well say that the woman lies on top of the man when they are making the children'.
There is no need to say that, this is a highly recommended book to everyone.

Click here to read part two of the Trilogy.

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This novel has been reviewed in Spanish in Literafrica by Sonia Fernandez, please click here to read.


  1. I was born Igbo and raised by Igbo parents but I never truly understood the history and origin of the Igbo man and culture before colonization until I read things fall apart....I have read it at least 4 times...and the more I read it the more I learn from the book...A classic African literature book...

    1. Hi Kboy!
      A classic African Literature indeed. I loved it. This book is an evidence that there is no need to use "big" vocabularies to write an impresive book.
      It is a novel worth reading as many times as possible.

  2. Mary, Things Fall Apart is eternal, if I may sound blasphemous. I truly lvoed every bit of it, though I'm not Nigeiran;, but like you rightly said, the story could be about any African tribe before the coming of the white man. A true African Classcic indeed.

    1. Celestine, no, you are not being blasphemous at all. I think all Africans (and non Africans)would/should cherish this book. It is a piece of art in the African Literature.

  3. Mary,
    For sure, "Things Fall Apart" is a trilogy that includes "No Longer At Ease" and "Arrow of God". I read the three separately, but now, I have a recent publication of the three together with an introduction by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Coming from the same town with Chinua Achebe and knowing most of the names and places/locations mentioned in these stories especially in "Things Fall Apart" and "Arrow of God" makes the trilogy an interesting read. For those of us who are Igbos and for Africans as a whole, there is much to be learnt as regards the culture of our people before the advent of colonialism and Christianity. The trilogy is highly recommended to all.

    1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is another very talented writer, So far I have read her three published books. I feel so fortunate to be able to read the trilogy.
      Thanks for commenting.


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