We met on Saturday evening to discuss ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe. This book was published in 1958 at the time when many Nigerians and other members of the Commonwealth were arriving in Britain. It sold over eight million copies and was translated into forty seven languages. It became the required reading in many schools and colleges.
The story is about Ohonkwo, an important man of the Igbo tribe in Eastern Nigeria. He came to this position through his own considerable efforts as a farmer, his prowess as a wrestler, and his ambition to do well in the world. Among the nine villages of his tribe, he was both respected and feared, unlike his father who was considered a failure.
At this time, before the arrival of the Europeans, the tribes lived by their own religious beliefs, farming methods, and codes of justice. When the Europeans arrived, Okonkwo was found to be an unyielding man of action and pride, which led to his downfall and ignominious death.
Looking back at Okonkwo’s life from a present day perspective, he seems to have been a cruel, proud, fearful man, a hard taskmaster to his three wives and children. We learn about their everyday lives and attitudes when the two different civilisations collide.I am not going to tell you the story but I recommend this book to everyone interested in African history.
P. S. A foot note to the score that the bookclub members gave the book, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood: the members who had previously listened to it on audio revised their scores upwards when they read the text.