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Things fall apart

            Very often we dismiss fiction as being "just a story," and overlook it's.
             ability to enlighten us about real issues in the real world. Chinua Achebe's.
             novel Things Fall Apart offers us a rare glimpse into the world of the.
             African Ibo tribe as it struggles to redefine itself in the face of British.
             colonialism; we learn not only about the problems of a particular time and.
             place, but encounter some of the issues dealt with in contemporary.
             sociological literature as well. In turn, our understanding of Achebe can be.
             tremendously deepened through the lens of works such as Mahmood Mamdani's.
             Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism;.
             Anthony Butler's Democracy and Apartheid: Political Theory, Comparative.
             Politics, and the Modern South African State; and Frederick D. Lugard's The.
             Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa.
             Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart derives its title from a line from William.
             Butler Yeats' poem "The Second Coming," which foretells the end of the.
             world. And Achebe's novel indeed foreshadows the end of a world: the.
             incursion of the white man into the society of the African Ibo, and the.
             subsequent dissolution of the indigenous culture. The image of things.
             falling apart is an extremely apt one, for we learn that from Achebe's point.
             of view, Ibo culture is held together by one string -- its own traditions.
             This string will not break, but when pulled it will unravel, causing.
             everything it holds together to literally fall apart.
             One example of this is the way the Ibo select their leaders. Through the.
             development of his novel, Achebe explains that each village is governed by.
             an egwugwu, an elite group of men culled considered to be the best and.
             brightest members of that society. All these men are former wrestling.
             champions, because the Ibo feel that wrestling is a sound measure of one's.
             manliness and therefore a good predictor of leadership ability. We need only.
             look at Achebe's protagonist Okonkwo to see the inherent problems in this.

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