Customer Review

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The first authentic African voice is a loud whisper, 15 July 2008
This review is from: Things Fall Apart (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Chinua Achebe's acclaimed novel starts out as a thoughtful invocation of the culture and values of the Igbo people in pre-colonial Nigeria at a time when advice is sought from oracles and medicine-men, justice despatched through blood feuds and human sacrifice, and where the manly virtues of the warrior remain the defining quality sought by all self-respecting men. Embarrassed by his weak father Okonkwo sets out to be become a clan leader through steely determination, hard work and plain bullying. A lot of good it does him, though. A fatal accident - not in any way his fault - results in flight from his clan and a humiliating seven year exile. On his return, the missionaries had arrived in his village and we all know what happened next: the end of civilisation as they knew it.
This is an important book inasmuch as it was one of the first authentic African voices to portray the effects of colonialism on a traditional African society, and it came at a time when the British Empire had run its course and was on the verge of disintegration. However, it is an immature work written in a style so concise as to appear almost light, and is not the masterwork that it is claimed to be despite its undoubted virtues of accuracy and honesty. The author - as I'm sure he would admit - was to compose better works.
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