Anthills of the Savannah is about the aftermath of colonialism, which left a deep and complex legacy in Africa. Colonialism has helped to usher in many of the changes in the fictional nation of Kangan. Some, like the rampant political instability, are terrible for the people of the nation, and others, like an improved role for women, seem to be improvements. On the other hand, women also represent a link to the people's precolonial heritage, and as such are both looking forward and looking back.
But in general, the violence, instability, abuses of power, and political corruption that plague the country in Achebe's novel are direct references to similar scenarios in post colonial Nigeria, which experienced extreme civil strife (even a civil war with the breakaway people of Biafra) and kleptocratic political leadership. Achebe asks late in the book, "what must a people do to appease an embittered history?" After enduring decades of post colonial turmoil, the answer is never clear.