How is colonization depicted in "Anthills of the Savannah"?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Colonization is represented in this novel, as in other novels, as a corrupting force.  In this novel, it has taken three African men and pulled them away from their roots.  The first, Sam, has become wrapped up in the ideas of imperialistic power, and turns into a tyrant.  The second, Ikem, is possessed with his own sense of over-developed Western arrogance.  He has received a full education, and values his intelligence and ability to articulate to the point of his downfall, unable to see the world through other's eyes and thus unable to predict what will happen to him.  The last, Chris, is just caught up between the two friends, wanting to hold on to the past when they were idealistic and carefree, but unable to accept that too much has changed.

These men all die as a result of their flaws.  In addition, Achebe shows a countryside that is at odds with itself.  There is violence and crime and a general sense of chaos.  He illustrates this sense of hopelessness by quoting the poem "Africa" within the novel:

  • Africa tell me Africa
    Is this your back that is bent?
    This back that breaks under the weight of humiliation?
    This back trembling with red scars? (pg. 134)

It is colonization that has broken Africa's back, and caused all the problems that now exist for these characters.

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Anthills of the Savannah

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