A Review of Things Fall Apart

I really enjoyed reading the book Things Fall Apart. Achebe did an excellent job of portraying the pre-colonial culture of the Ibo. This book was not only educational, but entertaining as well. His ability to focus mainly on one individual and still show the complexity of the entire clan’s beliefs and self-governing tactics was incredible. It is hard to believe that he was able to show us so many aspects of the pre-colonial culture in so few pages. This book definitely left me wanting to learn more about their culture. Some of the areas, I feel, really stood out to show they were a civilized people included their social organization, their economic system, and their religious beliefs.
The Ibo seemed to have a very structured social order. Everything from the way one attains status in the village to the way the people receive their guests leads me to believe this. The use of titles in the village to determine status demonstrates that they had a hierarchy of sorts in place, much like we have judges, mayors, senators, and a president. For instance, the egwugwu acted as judges by passing sentence in disputes between the people. Their use of titles also seemed to make up a sort of government.
Along the same lines, the way they interacted shows that they were a civil people. They seemed to try to settle everything peaceably, if at all possible. As Achebe pointed out, they believed that a “war of blame” was an unjust thing. Also, the way they interacted between each other leads me to believe they were not the “savages” the English had thought. The sharing of the kola nut and palm wine between neighbors shows a mutual respect for each other. They seemed to have a deep feeling of kinship not only among their families, but with the clan as a whole as well.
Although it may be considered somewhat primitive by English standards, the Ibo had an existing economic system as well. Their economy was based on bags of cowry. They also had different economic classes among them. Okonkwo was portrayed as being pretty well off in his clan. Their economy was based mainly on agriculture, specifically the yam, and it seemed that the good farmers were considered among the richest people of the clan. The economy also relates back to the titles, because titles were purchased within the clan. The mention of markets also supports the idea of the Ibo having a strong economy.
Religion was also already in place in the pre-colonial times. The Ibo were deeply religious. It seems that everything they do is dictated by some religious belief. Religion was involved in the way they raised their families, the way they governed, the way they interacted, the way they decided on war and other issues, and even the way they farmed. They may have practiced what may be considered a ridiculous religion by outside standards, but it was a religion none the less. In fact, one of the things that struck me the most in this book was the conversation between Mr. Brown and Akunna. Throughout their conversation, at times they seemed to be saying the same thing. Akunna brought up some interesting points when he was comparing the religions. There were several similarities that would almost make it seem the Christian God and the God the Ibo worshiped were one and the same.
In conclusion, I feel that Achebe did an excellent job in getting his point across. To take something from the book, the title the District Commissioner was planning to use for his book, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of Lower Niger, could not have been further from the truth. I do not believe the Ibo were a primitive people at all. They were just different. And the English, not understanding them or their beliefs, thought to save them from themselves. I feel that misunderstanding on both sides helped to write the history we read about in most books. The Ibo were not savages, but people standing up for their beliefs. Suffering a lack of communication between the white man and the Ibo seemed to be the biggest reason for the problems between them