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African Writing Archives

Current A.W.



Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe



Cheluchi Onyemelukwe

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe is a doctoral candidate in law at Dalhousie Uni, Canada.
Growing up, I read a lot of books, including Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The book is not a just a pioneering novel telling the African story from an African perspective, it is part of my history. An Igbo myself, for many years I considered it not just fiction but a true history of the Igbo. Long before I understood the history of my own family, I imagined my ancestors, tall and proud like Okonkwo, living in an organized society, rich in customs, full of intelligent and good people, with very human failings. Reading its almost flawless translation of the Igbo language into English (perfected in Achebe’s Arrow of God) and its beautiful use of proverbs, always made me wonder if others who could not understand Igbo could truly and fully appreciate this wonderful book. It gave me a sense of place, and an appreciation for the richness of my language, which will always be with me. My take on Things Fall Apart is thus always, not a literary critic’s perspective, or a high school teacher’s summary, or even a regular reader’s view on a good book, but instinctively an emotional (some might say sentimental) embrace of an important and pleasant life event. The story this important book tells is part of my personal narrative, part of who I am.


Amatoritsero Ede

Amatoritsero Ede is a poet, Doctoral Candidate in English at Carleton University, Ottawa Canada, and the Publisher & Managing Editor of Maple Tree Literary Supplement (

My first impression of this evocative story of an impatient and irascible Okonkwo – who ‘almost hated’ his layabout mendicant artist father, for the older man’s non-achievement – was gripping. There was an eerie, almost meta-fictional quality to the figure of Okonkwo, who, against African traditional veneration for age, only considered success as the measure of a man. In that sense he is, ironically, a very modern character even if his successes were built on a traditional insistence on the sometimes – in the novel – ritualised progression from boyhood into manhood. His tempestuous personality, which drove him to success, was also his tragic flaw; it led to his self-defeat – exile, suicide, and a complete and final symbolic banishment from communal memory as his corpse was unceremoniously dumped in the ‘evil forest’. In the end he is a modern character who is defeated by tradition, while following tradition.


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