Historical Context

A map of Nigeria, showing the countrys location on the coast of Central Africa. Published by Gale Cengage

History of Nigeria
Achebe belongs to an ethnic group known as the Ibo, who have had a civilization in West Africa for centuries. Unlike many other African civilizations, the Ibo were a decentralized people who maintained a largely village-based culture rather than one governed by a king or an emperor Achebe has based much of his writing on the Ibo culture and its interactions with the British colonial administrations, as well as its conflicts with the central Nigerian government.

In the early 1800s, British traders interested in palm oil began to travel to the region that later became known as Nigeria, and there they encouraged the slave trade. The British maintained their influence in the area until 1914, when the British government assumed direct control of the land (which up until then had been under the administration of the Royal Niger Company). They united the northern and southern halves of the country and administered the territory from the city of Lagos, which remains the capital.

Ethnic differences made governing the country difficult, and the three regions developed at different paces. The British granted Nigeria independence in 1960, but not until they set up a constitution that guaranteed the rights of minority ethnic groups. After a honeymoon period of approximately two years, in which Nigerians celebrated their newly-won independence, the country began to have political troubles. Elections were disputed...

(The entire section is 534 words.)