Why did Chinua Achebe write Things Fall Apart?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Part of what motivated Achebe to write Things Fall Apart was the desire to capture the voice of indigenous African identity. Achebe was fascinated with living in Lagos, an area in which he was able to see the collision between old and new notions of African identity.  At the same time, Achebe recognized that the post- colonial condition of Africa demanded the emergence of new voice.  The traditional voice in African literature was driven by European visions of what Africa was.  The "African savage" and the notion that Africans were "uncivilized" in village life were aspects of what drove Achebe to configure something new.  The construction of a village identity in Africa which repudiates European construction of African identity is something that lingers in Achebe's mind as he takes in Lagos as well as the new condition of freedom that was a part of modern Africa.  These become the motivating forces behind why Achebe sought to write Things Fall Apart. Achebe understood that there needed to be a more indigenous voice to African literature.  He recognized that the way in which Africa was depicted through the eyes of a European had to be countered with an alternate vision of reality:  "Africa up as a foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe's own state of spiritual grace will be manifest." For Achebe, the need to depict a condition of being that was more "complex" and intricate helped to motivate his writing of Things Fall Apart.

It is with this in mind that Achebe conceives of the novel.  To avert the European construction of Africa as a realm of "negation" becomes one of the major factors in the novel's conception.  Things Fall Apart is where Achebe combines the traditional aspects of African identity into a setting in which the new is constructed.  The result is that a narrative emerges that is reflective of the indigenous African experience.  The desire to establish this is a motivating factor in Achebe's writing of Things Fall Apart

honnywood | Student

I think  those are wonderful sugestions  but dont you think this man maily thought that this was a  breaki g point into a new area of life this was next big thing for nigerian people it was a vefy contradicting fact that it was a stuggle for them at that time it was a hassel 

jipsarawat | Student

Chinua's Achebe's first novel Things Fall Apart, was published in 1958, a time when Nigeria was struggling to become independent and emancipate itself from the control of Great Britain. The main cause of cultural colonisation in the post- colonial period was the cultural loss and denigration of the colonised in the colonial period. The culture of the colonised in the colonial period was regarded as barbaric and uncivilised. Thus the colonisers in the name of civilisation were devoted to extinguishing or denigrating the culture of the colonized and to impose their own culture upon them instead. 

           In order to restore their denigrated images in the colonial discourse, some african writers began to write their own african stories or history from a native perspective. Among these one of the most influential is Chinua Achebe who, despite his father's absolute denial of Igbo traditions and culture, was attracted to the Igbo rituals and ceremonies unconsciously:

            " those idols and food had a strange pull on me in spite of my being such a thorough little Christian..." 

    He wanted to show that representation of the restless dynamism in the society of Umuofia was able to show up the stereotypical static african society in colonial discourses as a lie. He assigns a role to the african writers as the inventor of new forms through which african culture can be adequately represented and also as a defender of culture and the custodian of national consciousness.