What personal experiences might have led Achebe to write Things Fall Apart?
What cultural, historical, and social influences informed Achebe’s novel?
Chinua Achebe was born on November 15, 1930, in Ogidi in Eastern Nigeria. His family was in the Ibo tribe. When British Government Representatives that controlled Nigeria convinced Achebe’s parents to convert to Christianity, it pushed Achebe to become interested in traditional Nigerian beliefs. He attended a government college at Umuahia, Nigeria, and graduated from the University College at Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1954.
Chinua Achebe detested books written by authors such as Joseph Conrad, which, according to Achebe, portrayed African people in an insulting and inaccurate way. He soon published his first book, Things Fall Apart, which told the story of a farmer struggling to accept change during the early days of the British Empire in Nigeria. The novel was critically acclaimed and brought much controversy to British colonization. Achebe wrote his book to correctly and accurately tell the tale of life in Nigeria during the British Empire. Other books about this subject are written by European authors who do not have the Africans point of view.
Achebe often traveled to struggling countries to give motivational speeches and discuss local issues. He also wrote several articles for newspapers as well as magazines to convey his message to the world. In 1972 Achebe came to the United States to become an English professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In 1976 he returned to the University of Nigeria. After writing several acclaimed novels, Achebe returned to the United States and teaching positions at Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and other universities. After a car accident in 1990 which paralyzed him from the waist down, Achebe returned to the United States and got a teaching position at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Chinua Achebe continues to visit his homeland and debates current issues related to Nigeria and Africa as a whole.