Born a member of the Ikwerre tribe in Aluu, Nigeria, Elechi Emmanuel Amadi (ah-MAH-dee) appears to have been inspired by the spirit that prompted Chinua Achebe to write Things Fall Apart (1958): the desire to show that Africa was not one long night of savagery before the coming of the Europeans. Amadi’s novels, particularly The Concubine, the tale of one woman’s effect on a village, and The Great Ponds, the recounting of a feud between two villages over fishing rights, are replete with anthropological detail. Readers can learn as much about the Ikwerre from Amadi as they can about the Ibo from Achebe. Yet whereas Achebe in his first novel concerns himself with the results of European contact on a tribal society, Amadi sets his first two novels in rural communities that have little or no contact with the outside world. The conflicts are internal and have to do with the villagers themselves. Thus, unlike other Nigerian novelists of his generation, Amadi is best known for his psychological delineation of characters and for his analysis of their psychological disposition and the forces—social, psychological, natural, and supernatural—that influence and condition them.
Amadi can be considered to represent the second generation of African authors. Educated in Nigeria when it was still a colonized nation, Amadi graduated from University College of Ibadan in 1959 and became a surveyor for the colonial administration, a job he held until...
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