An Image of Africa is a collection of essays by the legendary Chinua Achebe. I have his other collection of (extensive) essay called The Education of a British-Protected Child first published in 2009, which I highly enjoyed. Both books were purchased in Spain, Barcelona and San Sebastian respectively.
This collection of essay is divided into two parts: one is "An Image of Africa"; Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness and the other is "The Trouble with Nigeria".
The first part gives a historical perspective of the relationship of Europeans with Africans.
Africa as setting and back drop which eliminates the African as
human factor. Africa as a metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognisable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril..... The real question is the dehumanisation of Africa and Africans which the age-long attitude has fosters and continues to foster in the world. And the question is whether a novel (Heart of Darkness) which celebrates this dehumanisation, which depersonalise a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art?
.....a book which parades the most vulgar fashion prejudices and insults from which a section of mankind has suffered untold agonies and atrocities in the past and continues to do so in so many ways and many places today. I am talking about a story in which the very humanity of black people is called in question.
Africa is to Europe as the picture is to Dorian Gray - a carrier on to whom the master unloads his physical and moral deformities so that he may go forward, erect and immaculate. Consequently, Africa is something to be avoided just as the picture has to be hidden away to safeguard the man's jeopardous integrity...
The second part of this books focuses on "The Problem with Nigeria" he stated;
- Tribalism: The evils of tribalism that's results to disunity and disintegration.
- False Image of Ourselves: Make-believe and unrealistic expectations
- Leadership, Nigerian-Style: Materialism
- Unity and Faith or Justice and Honesty?
- Patriotism; "quite clearly patriotism is not going to be easy or comfortable in a country as badly run as Nigeria is"
- Social Injustice and the Cult of Mediocrity; "We will buy, hire or steal technology," said one of ours ministers. He did not seem to realise that technology was not an assemblage of artefacts stacked conveniently for ease of lifting, but a particular attitude of mind.
- The Igbo Problem
- The example of Aminu Kano
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An Image of Africa is a collection of essay that I recommend along with The Education of a British Protected Child.