"Things Fall Apart" is a book that is likely to be enjoyed right away by somebody with a curious mind out to become familiar with the way of life or culture of a people and of an era that is long gone. It is for a soul seeking to understand American cultures, traditions, cultures and history. Through the complex character of Okonkwo, Chinua Achebe provides us with insights of how the Igbos. Nigeria and the rest of Africa were pacified by the colonial powers that carved up Africa into colonies in the 1880s. Other works like "The Usurper: and Other Stories", "Houseboy", and "Weep Not, Child" take us even deeper into the metamorphosis of the continent. These are books one does not get bored reading over and over.
Easy to read but with a deeper subtext, this is the tale of Okonkwo. Having risen through his own efforts from being son of a wastrel father, he is now an important man in his Nigerian village, a position he jealously guards by ruling his wives and children with an iron hand. Achebe gives a good picture of what life was like before white settlers came - the superstitions, wars and beheadings of rival clans, the fear of the oracle. And then the first missionaries arrive with their apparently harmless religion, followed by the first administrators, and the clan appears to be 'breaking up and falling apart'... Vivid and enjoyable portrayal of old Nigeria, leaving the reader uncertain whether 'westernization' was a good thing for the ordinary people.
If I had read this book in the years it had been written I am sure I would have thought otherwise about it. But seeing it was written so many years ago what it entailed, the loss of power and rights, support, friendship and custom through the belief system introduced by another power the story simply reflected what I had read about so many times before. So many similar stories exist around the world rather than of only one African country. Nevertheless the writer had plenty to tell of his suffering and loss. Understanding why did not lessen the suffering.