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MUST READ: Things Fall Apart

This book is amongst the foremost of literatures coming out of the continent.

india Updated: May 13, 2006 12:28 IST

Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Price — Rs 220
Publication — Heinemann

Africa is the dark continent. In our imaginations it is the land of poverty, bloodshed, illiteracy, corruption — in fact anything horrible that we can conjure up. It would be obvious therefore to presume that in our minds Africa has a void in terms of culture.

Or at least, even if we are slightly reluctant to give a clean sweep to our statement, Africa does not have any recognisable culture. It’s a common error.

If we are to except that the whole continent is bereft of any ancient traditional culture we are in effect falling in line with the white colonisers whose idea of culture was limited only to what their church taught them.

For most of us reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart would be an eye opener. For not only does it portray a distinct regional culture, but also that that culture is based not on superstition but on law and conduct.

This book is amongst the foremost of literatures coming out of the continent. It tells the story of a man caught up in himself and his duty in the midst of colonial rampage in Africa.

The small book spans a whole life, not just of the character in question but of a whole continent. The life before and after the arrival of the colonisers, the disintegration of an ancient culture, a certain identity that is lost forever. These are the themes the book explores in detail.

For the reader the realisation of a world yet to be discovered is an exciting prospect. We might be contend to think of Africa in terms of ‘dark’ and ‘invisible’ but there is a lot to see.

Achebe’s book shines the first ray of light into this ‘darkness’, setting the reader on a path of discovery. Things Fall Apart must be read and re-read, and if possible shared with others. Because this is one book that is really worth it.