Knowledge of Africa and the inhabitants of the massive continent were often portrayed as barbaric beasts by the first missionaries to enter the land. Because of skewed writings by European missionary workers, a picture was painted for their readership of a savage Africa saved only by the benevolent, civilized western influence. Achebe successfully attempts to redirect this attitude. Achebe educationally has the means to convey a different perspective, an advantage most other individuals of his culture lack. In his novel Things Fall Apart, rather than glorifying the Ibo culture, or even offering a new view, Achebe acts as a pipeline for information to flow freely without partiality. Achebe's parents were among the first converts of the Igbo, which has exposed him to both the Igbo African culture and western Christian ideology, and can therefore explicate his meaning and experiences from both sides. Achebe is, without doubt, an African novelist, not a novelist writing about Africa; he seems neither to condemn the missionary system, nor condone it. I plan to prove that Achebe portrays the missionary with the same objectivity as he does the Ibo culture in Things Fall Apart.
Albert Chinualumogu Achebe was born in Nigeria, but not into a traditional Nigerian home. His mother and father were both converts and "devout Christians" (1). In an interview appearing in The Paris Review at the Unterberg Poetry Center, Achebe says, "they were not just converts; my father was an evangelist, a religious teacher. He and my mother traveled for thirty-five years to different parts of Igboland, retired, and returned with his family to his ancestral village" (interview...
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...her culture as superior, but a symbolic unraveling of historical events. It is the collision of these two social and religious structures that creates the poignant drama in which these people find themselves, not the particular structure itself. During an interview Achebe remembers when he began to read about adventures and wasn't sure what side he was supposed to be on. He says, "I instinctively took sides with the white people. They were fine! They were excellent. They were intelligent. The others were not...they were stupid and ugly. That was the way I was introduced to the danger of not having your own stories" (2).
(3)Achebe, C. Things Fall Apart. Great Britain. 1958.
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