Sufyan AlmahameedDr. Majed AdaylehWorld LiteratureJanuary 8, 2018Pre and Post-Colonialism in Things Fall Apart AbstractThings Fall Apart is considered the master piece of African literature presented by Chinua Achebe. He presents us a full real picture, situation and even the original language of Igbo society. The main reason of composing this work is to be a violent reaction toward Joseph Conrad’ work heart of Darkness because Conrad depicts the natives as savages, uncivilized and ignorant. So he presents us the structure of Igbo society before the arrival of the white man who is the colonizer. At this period Igbo is an organized society and every one knows his role even the women. Respect and peace are the main successful factor in this society that makes Achebe to be proud of his nation. In spite of this pride, Achebe also criticizes his community since they belief in superstitions and many gods. In my papers I discuss the periods and stages that Igbo society passes by. I show how Igbo was before colonization and how this organized society is divided into two different groups to become a weak structure. Our protagonist is Okonkwo who is depicted as a good example of a person who refuses the colonization and still adheres his country until he suffers from the disappointment toward his society.Keywords: Igbo, pr-colonization, colonization, post-colonization.           The novel Things Fall Apart is written by Chinua Achebe who is considered the father of African literature in 1958. He was born in 16 November 1930 and raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria. “Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship to study medicine but he changed his studies to English literature” (Wikipedia). Achebe decides to write this literary work as a reaction to Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness because Conrad depicts the African people as savages, harmful and uncivilized. The protagonist, Marlow, describes all the natives he meets in Africa as savages, comparing them to animals or the wilderness of the jungle itself as shown here: “Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light” (Conrad 1, 17). So in my paper I will show how the reaction comes violently by Achebe when he talks about the African culture, rituals, customs, beliefs and the democratic society before the colonization comes by Europeans and how the society is totally different after that invasion.          Chinua Achebe divides his novel into three parts and in each part he talks about an issue regarding the African culture before and after the colonization. The protagonist (Okonkwo) is directly presented in the first part in which all events revolve around him in the fictional village which is Umuofia. But Achebe presents us Igbo society that forms the major tribe in Africa as states by Ohadike:The Igbo (or Ibo) people form one of the largest ethnic group in Africa, with about 15 million living in Nigeria and another million living outside .Their farming communities are broadly situated between the Niger River in the west and the cross River in the east, stretching from delta swampland near the southern coast through tropical rain forest to open grasslands to the north. (1).At the beginning Achebe is very proud due to the major members of this tribe having self-reliance like Okoye and Okonkwo since Okonkwo does not inherit anything from his father.  Growing up Okonkwo’s father had very little pride toward this active, organized society and the author. He was a poor man far in debt and left his son little which was not custom in the Igbo society. After being raised, Okonkwo was left to fend for himself. A determined young boy Okonkwo goes to a neighbor to get some yam seeds to plant a farm for himself to be the first step in order to build his own property. He suffers through a terrible first harvest and worked hard to become a successful one as presented here: “He was still young but he had won fame as greatest . . . He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams, and had just married his third wife” (Achebe 1, 8). According to the structural society, Men are usually the leaders in social events and the respect is popular between the different layers , such as religious ceremonies and during normal situations. They are distinguished into social groups on success which is measured in how one is respected as a warrior, wealth, and titles received. Titles are comparable to awards of recognition, as shown here from the novel Things Fall Apart, “Ezeudu had taken three titles in his life. It was a rare achievement. There were only four titles in the clan and only one or two men in any generation ever achieved the fourth and highest” (Achebe 13, 101). So this good society has  an honored competition in the internal structure to build their community without any external interference from outside the country in order to rebuild Africa since they think they are ignorant, primitives and uncivilized people as presented by Achebe.          Achebe continues his pride toward Africa and particularly toward his society. He aims to involve the reader within events of his novel and let the world be familiar with this culture. While Achebe composes this novel, he deliberately mentions several original words and writes them as it is without translation to let the reader pronounce them as if he really gets their nationality and identity. The author presents us a glossary of Igbo words and phrases at the end of his literary work that the reader can refer to them in order to understand the meaning since Achebe never writes the meaning within text. Thus I mention here some of these words and their meaning such as  agadi-nwayi that means old woman, nza which is a very small original bird, an original musical instrument which is udu and ozo which is the name of one of the titles or rank. In addition to that, Achebe mentions several proverbs from the Igbo society because he wants this culture to remain forever even under the effect of colonization and to show the longevity of his people’s language and that although the Europeans may have imperialized their homes and villages, they can not remove their culture from their nature. So Achebe talks about the complexity of the proverbs and the importance that plays in pre-colonial Africa to highlight the importance and significance of oral sayings and stories in the Igbo culture.One of these proverbs is “If a child washed his hands, he could eat with kings” (Achebe 1, 8). What this proverb means is that honor and dignity can be directly related to being clean and responsible.The author touches and talks about the African rituals and cultures that were common at that time and particularly before the European invasion to Africa. Festivals in the Igbo culture consist of the new yam festival, week of peace and funerals. In the new yam festival the Igbo celebrates to award the god of earth (Ani) before starting the new year of plantation and harvest as Achebe writes: “The Feast of the New Yam was held every year before the harvest began, to honor the earth goddess and the ancestral spirits of the clan. New yams could not be eaten until some had first been offered to these powers” (5, 30). The Nigerian people celebrate in week of peace annually. In this festival everyone must be peaceful toward others. They can’t punish or insult each other or even to commence any kind of crime. So you can derive the full situation of that society from the name of this kind of festival. But Okonkwo breaks the rules of this week when he hits his wife because she leaves her hut and does not prepare the cooked dinner to him. In this case anyone breaks the peace, he must consult the priest and sacrifice to repent his sin “You will bring to the shrine of Ani tomorrow one she-goat, one hen, a length of cloth and a hundred cowries.” He rose and left the hut. Okonkwo did as the priest said” (Achebe 4, 25).In the funeral ceremonies there is beating of drums, shooting of guns and cutting the trees. In the pre-colonial Igbo society, funerals were more of an eventful celebration rather than a day of sorrowful mourning. If you died in a proper way or under the correct circumstances you received a ceremony. If not, for example, you were banished to the evil forest to die, then you would not receive any burial ceremony at all. Achebe illustrates this ceremony and expands here:  The ancient drums of death beat, guns and cannon were fired, and mendashed about in frenzy, cutting down every tree or animal theysaw, jumping over walls and dancing on the roof. It was a warrior’sfuneral, and from morning till night warriors came and went intheir age groups. They all wore smoked raffia skirts and theirbodies were painted with chalk and charcoal. Now and again anancestral spirit or egwugwu appeared from the underworld,speaking in a tremulous, unearthly voice and completely coveredin raffia (Achebe 13, 100).The African rituals are also presented here like polygamy and polytheism that are removed later due to the missionaries and it will be illustrated as a postcolonial aspect later here. In the case of marriage, the Igbo society has a ritual that a man can have more than one wife. This clearly happens before the Christianity is spread by the Europeans. Our protagonist is having three wives and living friendly as shown here: “He worshipped them with sacrifices of kola nut, food and palm-wine and offered prayers to them on behalf of himself, his three wives and eight children” (Achebe 2, 12-13). It is also shown in the novel that Nwakibi has nine wives “There was a wealthy man in Okonkwo’s village who had three huge barns, nine wives and thirty children. His name was Nwakibie. . . . ” (Achebe 2, 16). This is also discussed in The World Book of Encyclopedia “at one time, Islamic traditions regulated marriage practices and family life throughout the northern Africa. These traditions ‘polygamy’– the right of a man to have more than one wife” (Anderson 71). According to the religious side, Achebe criticizes Igbo society that has several gods as mentioned in his work. The Igbo society is polytheistic (worshiping many gods) usually in the form of wood or stone. Some of these gods is Agbala. Agbala is a god that can tell the future and speak to the spirits of departed fathers from his cave in the Igbo society. Many people come from near and far to hear what Agbala has to say. Another god is called Ani, the owner of all land. Any person wants to sow the seeds, he must sacrifice something to that god in order to get a good crop or a rich harvest. This exactly shown when Unoka says: “Every year,” he said sadly, “before 1 put any crop in the earth, I sacrifice a cock to Ani, the owner of all land. It is the law of our fathers. I also kill a cock at the shrine of Ifejioku, the god of yams. I clear the bush and set fire to it when it is dry. I sow the yams when the first rain has fallen, and stake them when the young tendrils appear” (Achebe 3, 15).           The turning point in this novel happens when Okonkwo is expelled by the people from his village. Okonkwo kills a boy unintentionally and he leaves his village due to Igbo custom and received by his mother’s family. He stays outside for seven years. At that time the west colonization was spread widely over the world and the large share was on the black continent Africa as states by Abarna and Shobharam: “The main motive of whites was not only to practice their religion but also to expand reign of their government all over the world” (832). When the white man arrives Africa on the iron horse, they start to destruct the basic culture of the Igbo society in order to spread the new culture and remove the old and primitive habits as they think. In this period the Europeans apply their colonization and exploit Africa resources under the cover of development and improvement. Achebe presents us a new term which is colonization that defined by Boehmer as “a settlement of territory, the exploitation or development of resources, and attempt to govern in the indigenous inhabitants of occupied lands” (2). This is exactly what the colonizers want. We see in the novel obviously what the steps and tools that used by the colonizers. The colonizers start to spread their thoughts, rituals, principles and religion. The first step they build the hospitals over the African society. While they treat the patients, they exploit them to be very loyal and followers to colonizers and they can manipulate the natives without difficulties by convincing the patient that Jesus will cure you and you have to follow his religion to be in the safe . The next step is the education and opening the Christian schools. They use this way to teach the natives the basic and principal thoughts of Christianity. Then they start to build churches during their settlement and practice their rituals by force and they convince the natives to convert to the Christianity. One of that result is the protagonist’s son Nwoye who becomes christian one . He is converted by them and who plays main role in the novel since he is the son of the man of Action not of thoughts so the rest of society will immediately accept the new religion and the new thoughts.          When Okonkwo returns to his village from  exile, he thinks that he comes to a new village. In fact he comes in a period that considered as postcolonial period. Post-colonialism refers to the all characteristics of a society or culture from the time of colonization to the present. Thus we observe that every thing is converted even his son. There are two groups in his society as states here: ” In this novel the people of Umuofia are divided into two groups because of arrival of white missionaries in their land. The first group is Igbo followers of the white missionaries. Converts to Christianity choose to abandon their own religion, traditional ways of life and fellow people to follow the white man and his ways” (Abarna and Shobharam 830). He finds that there are new laws and a strange building which is the court. It is built by the Europeans in order to  impose the force and let everything is under their control by imprisoning the natives and sometimes executing the criminals. They behave if this country were theirs. They neglect the natives, their religion, their gods and their culture. So Okonkwo tries to retrieve his own country and liberate it by cooperation with the original people and to expel this invasion but he can not do anything because it is too late and everything falls apart and every part is controlled by the invader. Therefore these situations let him to hang himself and some critics considers his as a good example of tragic hero due to his disappointment.          Eventually, Things Fall Apart is considered the master piece of African literature that Achebe presents it to us. Chinua Achebe shows the social condition of African before the colonial and during the colonial period. He composes it as a weapon with the hand of new generation. Although the identity of colonized people is removed and fabricated, Achebe still reminds all generations about  the culture of Igbo society. Even the reader can live and involve himself as if he really lived in their society. Achebe challenges each author and each colonizer who tries to depict the Africans in bad way or describes him as savages by presenting him this literary work which talks about every part of the African society before fallen down by the effect of colonization.             Works Cited-Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books. 1959.-Anderson, M. A., Fontana, L., Taylor, S.W., and WaughS.L. 2007. The World Book Encyclopedia. USA: World Book, Inc.  -Aparnal, B, & Shoharam, D. “The Impact of Colonization and Cultural Change on the Igbo People: A Study of Chinua Achebe’s Novel Things Fall Apart”. 6.5 (2017): 832 – Boehmer E (1995). Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, Oxford and New York : Oxford   University Press, 1995 .-Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. W. W. Norton and Company: New York, 2006.-“Interpretation and Analysis of Proverbs in Things Fall Apart.” SlideShare. n.d. Web. 14 May 2015.-Ohadike DC (1978). Igbo Culture and History, London: Heinemann, 2000.Said. Edward.            Orientalism, London : Penguin.               


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