'Things Fall Apart' is Published
However remarkable on this score, Achebe's first novel achieved far more than revealing genuine African voices.
Things Fall Apart was the first novel in English to depict Africans who exist in an intricate moral universe; one that resonates with indigenous thought and values and concedes nothing, even in the face of the arrival of far more powerful outsiders. In place of the ignorant and superstitious "oogah-boogah"-muttering natives served up by generations of Westerners in literature and film, Achebe breathes life into sentient and articulate characters, people like Akunna, who delights in refuting a white missionary who insists that the Igbo divinities are false idols. "Yes," says Akunna, referring to a carving. "It is indeed a piece of wood. The tree from which it came was made by Chukwu, as indeed all minor gods were. But He made them for His messengers so that we could approach Him through them. It is like yourself. You are the head of your church."
Things Fall Apart, Achebe's first novel, was published in 1958 in the midst of the Nigerian renaissance. It tells the story of an Ibo village of the late 1800's and one of its great men, Okonkwo, who has achieved much in his life. He is a champion wrestler, a wealthy farmer, a husband to three wives, a title-holder among his people, and a mamber of the select egwugwu whose members impersonate ancestral spirits at tribal rituals. "The most impressive achievement of Things Fall Apart..." maintains David Carroll in his book Chinua Achebe, "is the vivid picture it provides of Ibo society at the end of the nineteenth century."