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"Things Fall Apart" By Chinua Achebe

1020 words - 5 pages

The Effects of Colonization on the Village of UmuofiaThe coming of the missionaries brings great disruption amongst the village of Umuofia. After thousands of years of unviolated and untouched tribal existence, Okonkwo returns after just seven years of exile to find his village almost unrecognizable. Similarly, his fellow villagers didn't seem to recognize or care to recognize him. Instead, ''the new religion and government and trading stores were very much in the people's eyes and minds ... they talked and thought about little else, and certainly not about Okonkwo's return'' (182). The Europeans have been active in Nigeria for just seven years and already the pre-colonial Nigeria has been ...view middle of the document...

The missionaries simply walk into the lives of the tribe with their interpreters, and ''told them that they worship false gods, gods of wood and stone'' (Things Fall Apart, 145). After thousands of years of worshipping unchanged deities, the white man virtually commands them to ''leave your wicked ways and false gods'' (145). Upon first contact, the natives are instantly and ignorantly labeled ''false'' and ''wicked.''In his rejection to this approach to missionary work, and the colonial project in general, Achebe not only makes them seem crazed and a reason for much laughing and joking, but he also hints at darker and more sinister aspects to them. The missionaries were injected into Africa with the expressed desire to completely change all aspects of African life, and convert it into something much more European. The missionaries also divided the people of the village amongst themselves. Basically, the village was divide between converted and unconverted natives.The missionaries were ruthless in pursuit of new converts. Domestic support for the missions depended in large measure upon the tangible success of their preaching, success being reflected in the numbers of conversions. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe even hints at their use of bribery and blackmail in their endeavors. He tells us, ''the white missionary had set up a school to teach young Christians to read and write'' (152). The inference is that the unconverted heathens were not able to attend. Yet keeping in mind the orality of Nigerian culture, learning to read and write is pointless. This signals the move away from Nigerian pre-colonial orature, towards a more European culture.In their desire for quick converts, the missionaries assembled outcasts and ''efulefu, worthless, empty men'' (143) as their converts. Outcasts and seemingly worthless man were specifically targeted by the missionaries because they are a group which despises and undermines the...

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