How does Achebe memorably portray Nigerians in No Longer at Ease?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In No Longer at Ease, Chinua Achebe portrays Nigerians as proud and honorable people with a rich cultural heritage that has been devalued by the colonial power-mongers who forced their European ways on the people of Africa. In Achebe’s view, as the colonial governments gained control, the Nigerians lost connection to their culture. As their environment was transformed, their traditions became buried, and over time, the people adopted new traditions, and with them new values—values that reflected European views that were much different from their own.

Achebe conveys the clash between cultures and the effect it had on his people. Despite the desire to cling to their culture, the Nigerians felt a need to conform, and in doing so, they fell prey to corruption. Achebe views Nigerian values as superior to European values, and he sees the Nigerian people as victims. They were forced to lower their standards in order to assimilate into a new culture—one that values profit over integrity and community. The Nigerian people, as Achebe knows them, are both humble and honorable, yet under subjugation by white rulers, they have become self-serving, and they have lost their sense of pride. In the novel, Achebe contrasts the lively life in the Nigerian communities of the past to the soulless life under colonial rule. He emphasizes the plight of his people and acknowledges their descent into corruption, and he mourns for the loss of his culture, which comes with the hypocrisy of his people's actions.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial