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African Writing Archives


Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe


Nii Parkes

Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a UK-based, Ghanaian poet and BBC radio host
Reading Things Fall Apart was a pivotal experience for me because it was the first book I read that tied violence and humanity so closely together and was thus important in my burgeoning understanding of nuance, the notion of shades, the absence of a clear defining line between right and wrong in real life. I was thirteen, and the lessons Things Fall Apart taught me about the way a society creates defining lines in an attempt to keep order, put my own acts of rebellion in context – although it didn't curb them. Later, the debates that arose from Things Fall Apart – the Conrad debate about internalised prejudice and the Ngugi debate about the language we write in became important in my approach to reading and writing, and interestingly mirrored the whole idea of nuance in Things Fall Apart itself – regardless of our intellectual positions we can have prejudices, regardless of the language we write in we can't change who we are; where language limits us, like all hybrids, we will adapt and create infinite new species of language.  



Austin Kaluba


Austin Kaluba is a Zambian journalist and writer
I was at school i
n Kasama-Zambia, when I first read Things Fall Apart. I read the book through in one day and decided I wanted to be a writer. I have since read TFA more than six times. — I have never read any other book that many times. I envied Mr Achebe's power to tell the African story from an African's perspective. I had earlier read other books on Africa, most of them written by whites with glaring prejudices and misinformation. The other African writers who had written about the meeting of the two societies — white and black — had not wholly captured the African experience in relation to the dynamic and destructive western contact with the 'natives.' What touched me about the book was the depiction of an innocent society living spartan but human-centred lives and the proud, materialistic, capitalist society that considered other races inferior.
The character of Okonkwo personifies the African continent facing the west with its agenda of keeping Africa in perpetual control. No book has ever influenced my life like Things Fall Apart. I recommend it for all Africans and blacks in the diaspora.


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