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"The Other" Perspective

Essay by 24  •  March 16, 2011  •  821 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,578 Views

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Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a fictional book of an interpretation of the African Igbo tribe. Achebe’s intent seemed not to point fingers at the “bad guy”, but to give a point of view that may not have been considered in the European colonization of Africa. The story of Okonkwo and the tribes that were affected indirectly and directly portrayed how the Africans viewed themselves as opposed to how the British saw them, how the British were able to conquer and colonize so easily, and the comparison of the British empire in Africa to the Spanish empire in the Americas.

To show how the Igbo tribe viewed themselves, an explanation of the significance of a story must be told. Achebe’s novel gives a perfect example of the domino effect. Each small story from each chapter seems to tie in together to create the main concept that is expressed in the title, Things Fall Apart. The Igbo held many customs such as their indirect form of government, their concept of strength and war, and their religion. All these are aspects of a working society, though not perfect by any means. In the chapter the Egwugwu were introduced, the “masqueraders of ancestral spirits of the tribe” where called on to decide a dispute among the tribe. The significance here shows that the Africans comprised a means of checks and balances to keep order much like court systems established in other societies. The men of the tribes also were able to obtain any of four titles to demonstrate their wealth and status among the tribe. These men with titles were the elders of the tribe that led many village meetings in the ilo, or the village playground. When Okonkwo was young, he became a well renowned wrestler throughout the nine villages. Wrestling portrayed those who would be considered great warriors in battle. This depicts their sense of strength, and though they have no standing army, they have men to fight when necessary. The tribal religion was that of their fathers. In the first chapter of part three, a native attempts to explain this to the white man during there religious debate. The African religion was more a way of life. They were loyal to their tribe and to their fathers’ gods. These three factors describe the African view of themselves as civilized though not modernized. These were men of loyalty, not barbarism.

When the British missionaries colonized Africa, they seemed to be harmless to the tribes. The British played on their weaknesses by using their religion, their families, and the English law against them. When the first white men came to the village of Mbanta, they were given a place in the Evil Forest to settle and build their church. The Africans believed that the Evil Forest held spirits that would kill off the white settlers, but the British knew these were simply superstitions. As time went on, they prospered there causing the separation of the tribes between converts and loyalists. This separation caused many

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