Sunday, 16 October 2016

An Image of Africa, 2002, Chinua Achebe ****

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;
  1. Tribalism: The evils of tribalism that's results to disunity and disintegration.
  2. False Image of Ourselves: Make-believe and unrealistic expectations
  3. Leadership, Nigerian-Style: Materialism
  4. Unity and Faith or Justice and Honesty?
  5. Patriotism; "quite clearly patriotism is not going to be easy or comfortable in a country as badly run as Nigeria is"
  6. 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.
  7. Indiscipline
  8. Corruption
  9. The Igbo Problem
  10. The example of Aminu Kano


My mother-in-law who is Spanish already asked me to get her "Todos se desmorona" (Spanish translation of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe). My in-laws  read my interview by a Spanish journalist published on  Wiriko, it made them want to find out more about African literature as they've never read one. Coincidentally Chigozie Obioma was in Barcelona promoting his book (The Fishermen) in Spanish and Catalan, which I am yet to read. So, after my conversation with my in-laws I decided to buy them "Los Pescadores" (The Fishermen). On one of our phone conversation my mother-in-law (who is an avid reader) said she is almost done with "Los Pescadores",  that it is a highly enjoyable read, I asked her not to go in details as I am yet to read it. I asked if she'd liked to read more of African literature. She said of course. I promised I'd buy them for her..... Then she says - I'd like to start with Chinua Achebe "Todo se desmorona" (Spanish Translation of Things Fall Apart), can you get it for me to read? I already downloaded it for her on my ebook. I also told her I'm glad she'd like to read his work, I told her he was my townsman and one of my favourite writers and I hope she enjoys his book as much as I do


An Image of Africa is a collection of essay that I recommend along with  The Education of a British Protected Child.


  1. Nice review. I really like Achebe's collection of essays/ non-fiction. I'll start his collection of essays: Hopes and Impediments maybe in November. But I loooved The Trouble With Nigeria. It should have been called 'The Trouble with Africa' lol. So much wisdom. I will add this and The Education of a British-Protected Child to my next purchase list.

    1. Hi Darkowaa, his essays are so insightful, I highly recommend that you read them, you know Achebe dedicated his life to a cause that he strongly believes in... he barely wrote for fun (he could have) however he chose to fight injustice, fight for social equality through his writings, he did so with so much wit and wisdom...

      Since you've read "The Trouble with Nigeria", I'd recommed you only purchase "The Education of a British-Protected Child" it is an extended version of "An Image of Africa". I look forward to your opinion. I always do.

  2. A fine review, Mary. Chinua Achebe remains one of my all time favourites.

  3. Looooots of book recs! Awesome. Can't wait to see who else will be featured :)

    1. Yeah... it is ready to be post this weekend! There is so much work Darkowaa. :-)


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