Things Fall Apart Background
Nigeria • With more than 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria is a complex linguistic, social, and cultural mosaic. Nearly three-quarters of the population consists of the Hausa and Furlani peoples of the north, the Yoruba of the southwest, and the Ibo of the southeast.
Hausa and Furlani (Muslim) Ibo (Anglican) Yoruba (Catholic)
Early Iboland • 3000 BCE: Evidence of neolithic man’s existence in Iboland • 850 CE: Bronzes are created, among them iron swords, bronze and copper vases and ornaments and terra cotta sculptures are made • 1043: Beginning of The Kingdom of Nri (1043 - 1911): the oldest kingdom in Nigeria. The Kingdom of Nri was unusual in the history of world government in that its leader exercised no military power over his subjects. The kingdom existed as a sphere of religious and political influence over much of Igboland, and was administered by a priest-king called the eze Nri. The eze Nri managed trade and diplomacy on behalf of the Igbo people, and was the possessor of divine authority in religious matters.
Influence of Europeans • 15th Century: Portuguese explorers arrived • 16th to late 19th centuries: transatlantic slave trade affected the Ibo heavily • 1870’s: British arrive, begin to colonize Nigeria • 1885 – 1906: Strong Christian missionary presence (this is the setting of Things Fall Apart) • Effects of British influence • In general, Ibo embraced Christianity and Western education • Ibo decentralized government conflicted with the central government of colonial rule
20th Century Nigeria • 1906: Initially composed of a number of ethnically based kingdoms and states, the area of modern Nigeria was brought under British rule by 1906. • 1930: Chinua Achebe born • 1958: Things Fall Apart published • 1960: Nigeria became an independent state on October 1, 1960. • There followed a period of tension among its ethnic groups.
Modern Nigeria • The result was that Nigeria was ruled by the military from 1966 to 1979. • The period of civilian rule (1979-1983) ended with a military coup. • Military dictator General Sani Abacha ruled from 1993 to 1998 • Much of Nigeria's wealth -- the country has extensive oil fields -- went into the pocket of its leader • Public infrastructure withered. Sani Abacha
Nigeria • In 1999, Olusegan Obasanjo became Nigeria's first democratically elected president since 1983. • In 2003, Obasanjo was re-elected, besting his Muslim opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari.
Chinua Achebe • Born in Ogidi, Nigeria, in 1930, Achebe was educated at the University of Ibadan. • In 1990, Achebe was in a car accident in Nigeria, and was paralyzed from the waist down. • While recuperating in a London hospital, he received a call from Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College. Botstein offered Achebe a teaching post in the Africana Studies program, which he holds to this day.
Chinua Achebe: Re-storying • Achebe believes in the power stories to create a sense of dispossession or to confer strength, depending on who is wielding the pen. • Achebe holds that certain Western “classics,” like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, present Africans to the world in a way that Africans do not recognize. • Achebe believes in the "process of 're-storying' peoples who had been silenced by all kinds of dispossession." • He hopes that in the twenty-first century this "re-storying" will continue and will eventually result in a "balance of stories among the world's peoples."
Kola Nuts “Kola nuts are important in many African societies, particularly in Western Africa. Besides the fact that Kola nuts contain caffeine and act as a stimulant and anti-depressant, they are also thought to reduce fatigue and hunger, aid digestion, and work as an aphrodisiac. In some parts of Africa, kola nuts are given as gifts to visitors entering a home, usually with some formal ceremony. Offering the kola nut is a gesture of friendship and hospitality. “Kola nuts are best known outside of Africa as an ingredient in cola beverages. There is some evidence that the first kola (or cola) beverage was made by Western Africans who mixed water with dried or fermented kola nuts. Commercially produced cola drinks were developed in the late 1800s, when chemists and inventors the world over used kola nuts (as well as other exotic ingredients) in various drinks and tonics. The most famous of these is Coca-Cola, which has become a truly global beverage. ” http://www.solarnavigator.net/solar_cola/cola_nuts.htm
Yams Yams The true yam is the tuber of a tropical vine (Dioscorea batatas) and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato. Generally sweeter than than the sweet potato, this tuber can grow over seven feet in length. (http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookvegetables/a/sweetpotatodiff.htm) Above: A yam barn keep Benin's ancient staple crop off the ground, where the tubers would be attacked by insects and fungal rot. (http://apollo5.bournemouth.ac.uk/africanlegacy/yam_barn.htm)
Yam Foo-Foo Fufu, (variants of the name include foofoo, foufou, foutou), is a staple food of West and Central Africa. It is a thick paste or porridge usually made by boiling starchy root vegetables in water and pounding with a mortar and pestle until the desired consistency is reached. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fufu)
Kite Kites are raptors with long wings and weak legs which spend a great deal of time soaring. Most feed mostly on carrion but some take various amounts of live prey. They are birds of prey which along with hawks, eagles, and many others. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kite_%28bird%29
Okonkwo’s Compound Ibo Compound by KyubiNoKitsune13 “Project done for English class. Had to make a model of Okonkwo's compound from the book Things Fall Apart so I decided to make mine on the Sims 2.” http://kyubinokitsune13.deviantart.com/art/Ibo-Compound-76522370
Ibo Funeral mask “This mask, said to be Ibo, is believed to have been made for funerary purposes. Among the Ibo peoples it is believed that once a person died communication from the spirit world was possible through funerary masks worn by members of a secret society at the funeral. These individuals were responsible for ensuring that the spirit of the deceased found its way to the spirit world and did not remain in the village to cause trouble. The bright colors of this mask suggest that it is from the South rather than the North, where the masks typically are painted white. “ http://www.newpaltz.edu/museum/exhibitions/african_art/1-7a.htm
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all convictions, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus MundiTroubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”