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The central ideas of this work is to explore on the Analysis Of The Theme Of  Tradition And Fate In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart thus the  research attempts examine the themes of tradition and fate and how successful Achebe portrayed the African traditions and their way of life .The study traces Igbo traditions. The research employs the descriptive analytical method. The research consist of five chapters; chapter one is a general introduction which reviewed different variables in the study, chapter two deals with theoretical frame work and published researches that deal with this study, chapter three shows the Exposition On The Background Of The Novel Things Fall Apart, Chapter four is on the Discussions Of The Thematic Representations Of Tradition And Fate” In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and chapter five is a concluding chapter which presents summary, findings and recommendations. The study reveals that Africa has a great and rich traditional system, which had organized people’s way of life spiritually, socially, and politically.



1.1Background to the study

African literature refers to the literature of the African peoples. The African concept includes oral literature, while European views of literature often stressed a separation of art and content, African awareness is all inclusive. Literature can also imply an artistic use of words for the sake of art alone. Without denying the important role of aesthetics in Africa, we should keep in mind that, traditionally, Africans do not radically separate art from teaching. Rather than write or sing for beauty in itself, African writers, taking their cue from oral literature, use beauty to help communicate important truths and information to the society. Indeed, an object is considered beautiful because of the truths it reveals and the communities it helps to build.

One major problem of African fiction is categorization. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the African novel gained momentum at a time of social upheaval in Africa. There were intense nationalist activities challenging the whole idea and practice of colonialism in Africa. Yet the African intelligentsia, to borrow Emmanuel Ngara’s expression, that is, the new bourgeoisie or elite was a product of missionary education. The colonial powers had acquiesced to granting political, but not economic and cultural independence to its colonies. That led the new African social elite to engage in artistic form inherited from the West but inspired by local tradition. For example, in 1952 Amos Tutuola wrote The Palmwine Drinkard based on Yoruba mythology, using African folktale tradition as form. He was followed in 1953 by Camara Laye with L’Enfant noir (translated into English as The African Child and later in the American edition as The Dark Child), an episodic novel, which relied heavily on African oral tradition to vaunt the merits of the African past, tradition and civilization to a deaf world. In 1958 and from a historical perspective, Chinua Achebe published the novel Things Fall Apart, which set out to correct the ugly perception of Africans. Ngugi wa Thiong’o followed in 1964 with Weep Not Child. It was the year of Kenyan independence and the novelist was making an urgent call to Africans to embrace education and enterprise as a way of ending Western imperialism and Indian entrepreneurship in East Africa.

If the genre of the novel came to dominate the literary scene, it was due in part to its ability to borrow from tradition, but more importantly, it was a means that the new intelligentsia, educated in a colonial context, could understand and use to herald African values outside and inside Africa. The impact of other genres was progressively overshadowed by that of novelists such as wa Thiong’o, Ousmane, Oyono, Armah, Beti, Laye, Achebe, to mention only a few. Often, novelists made oral tradition and legends their springboard. They began telling stories about self, the immediate community or village, the nation-state or the newly formed proletariat, but by and large they remained inaccessible and foreign to the great majority of the African people.

In contrast, African novel seems to belong to the people rather than to the elite because its formal complexity and intimidating status, borrowed from Western hierarchies, have never been naturalized in Africa. With the voice of ordinary people, the novel claims to be the legitimate heir of the traditional legends through which griots chronicled community history. The African novel writer tells stories to entertain and educate people in a way they understand. Like the storyteller, the writer holds the audience spellbound by the very beauty of the narrative, giving pleasure and also teaching morals and beliefs of the community, race or nation. African Novel has much in common with African oral tradition, which has been described as ‘the African classical tradition’

African classical tradition then finds its renewal in the novel because in a familiar way this genre puts in the context of today a number of subjects relevant to traditional and modern African values. It shows how economic, political, religious and social situations relate to pre-colonial Africa, colonialism, neo-colonial independence, apartheid, indigenous and imported religions, etc. Thus, the themes dealt with by African novelists include art, religion, urban-life, tradition and culture, apartheid, ironies of life, and pre-colonial, colonial, and neo-colonial reality, etc. Just as the common storyteller of old, the contemporary African fiction writer aims at helping his/her society to change while retaining the best features of authentic African cultures. A large number of literary authors of great talent have not lost sight of the novel’s potential to enrich human lives and African societies.

All cultures around the world have established a set of beliefs, and traditions and customs that constitute the code of values and moral laws for the people who belong to that particular culture. In Africa, the indigenous people were exposed to certain social phenomena and consequently adopted corresponding beliefs that now dictate and influence behavior and make a completely separate culture. In some communities, people share different beliefs and values due to a variety of important factors. Religion is one of the most important influences that shape the society in terms of its cultural beliefs and traditions and customs. Another component is history that can tell us about the events of the past that might have had some influence on the further development of people in that particular country or society. People are inevitably shaped by their past because history has a habit of repeating itself.

Traditions play a vital and important role in organizing the social life of most of the Africans indigenous communities. The culture and behaviors of the members of a community and their way of life is identified and organized by their traditions and customs. The two are invisible bonds, which tie the people of a community together. Traditions and customs are related to a person’s attitude. They play an important role in shaping the principles of the individual’s life.

In Africa, traditions and customs are the ultimate system of social control where people   monitor their standards and behaviors. A community’s traditions and customs lay the foundation of the living of its people. The cultural values serve as the founding principles of a person’s life. They shape an individual’s thinking and influence his or her mindset. Thus, traditions and customs give a member of the community a unique identity. They are believed to give the people of a community a character of their own, and discipline them accordingly. In some cultures, if somebody does something that is against the law of tradition, he or she will be fined or punished.

Therefore, having and preserving traditions and customs within local communities is of importance and has many advantages. It is a way to pass down a number of preserved practices and customs. This will lead to creating unity among the member of the society and give them a sense of belonging. In addition to that, traditions provide an important connection with the past. Roots, heritage and core values are often parts of that connection and bring values and meaning into our lives.

Understanding the traditions behind a family’s heritage and belief can provide insight into present-day life. As well, participating in those rituals and observances gives guidance, a comforting framework of reference and a sense of continuity.

Many African societies worship a single God, while, some recognize a dual God. They do this by paying obeisance to the God through lesser deities. Some African societies deify entities like the earth, the sun, the sea, lighting or the nature. Each deity has its own priest or priestess. God father God the mother, and God the Sun. Among the Fon in the Republic of Benin, God, who is called “Vondu”, has male and female traits.

In Ghana, the Ewe people have a conception of the high God as a female- male partnership. Mawu who is a female is often spoken of as gentle and forgiving. Lisa who is a male renders judgment and punishes. Among the Ewe it is believed that when Lisa punishes, Mawu may grant forgiveness. This shows the complementarities of male and female that characterizes many of the traditional African religions.

In Sudan, the Nuba Mountains is one of the places in Africa which has a female high Goddess, whose culture has matriarchal traits. The Nuba conceive of the creator Goddess as the “Great mother” who gave birth to earth and mankind.

In Nigeria, the Traditional Igbo religion includes belief in a creator god (Chukwu or Chineke), an earth goddess (Ala), and numerous other deities and spirits as well as a belief in ancestors who protect their living descendants. Revelation of the will of the deities is sought by divination and oracles

In most African communities, God is often worshipped through consultation or communion with lesser deities and ancestral spirits. The deities and spirits are honored through libation, sacrifice of (animals, vegetables, or precious metals).

The will of God is sought by the believer also through consultation of divination or oracular deities. In many African traditional religions there is a belief in a cyclical nature of reality. The living stands between their ancestors and the unborn. According to Gottlieb and Mbiti, traditional African religions embrace natural phenomena –ebb and tide, waxing and waning moon, rain and drought- and the rhythmic pattern of agriculture.

Religion plays a vital role in the lives of most Africans. Wherever the person is, there is his religion with him: he carries it to the fields where he is sowing seeds or harvesting a new crop; he takes it with him.

Religion among most African ethnic groups was not simply a faith or worship system; it was a way of life, a system of social control, a provider of medicine, and an organizing mechanism. Right from womb through birth, infancy, puberty, marriage, and funeral many Africans societies have religious rituals for each phase of life. Each begins with prayer, offering of kola nut and pouring of libation.

It is against this background that the study seek to examine the Theme of Tradition And Fate In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

1.2 Biography of Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe, in full Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, (born November 16, 1930, Ogidi, Nigeria—died March 21, 2013, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.), Nigerian novelist acclaimed for his unsentimental depictions of the social and psychological disorientation accompanying the imposition of Western customs and values upon traditional African society. His particular concern was with emergent Africa at its moments of crisis; his novels range in subject matter from the first contact of an African village with the white man to the educated African’s attempt to create a firm moral order out of the changing values in a large city.

Achebe grew up in the Igbo (Ibo) town of Ogidi, Nigeria. After studying English and literature at University College (now the University of Ibadan), Achebe taught for a short time before joining the staff of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in Lagos, where he served as director of external broadcasting in 1961–66. In 1967 he cofounded a publishing company at Enugu with the poet Christopher Okigbo, who died shortly thereafter in the Nigerian civil war for Biafran independence, which Achebe openly supported. In 1969 Achebe toured the United States with fellow writers Gabriel Okara and Cyprian Ekwensi, lecturing at universities. Upon his return to Nigeria he was appointed research fellow at the University of Nigeria and became professor of English, a position he held from 1976 until 1981 (professor emeritus from 1985). He was director (from 1970) of two Nigerian publishers, Heinemann Educational Books Ltd. and Nwankwo-Ifejika Ltd. After an automobile accident in Nigeria in 1990 that left him partially paralyzed, he moved to the United States, where he taught at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. In 2009 Achebe left Bard to join the faculty of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Things Fall Apart (1958), Achebe’s first novel, concerns traditional Igbo life at the time of the advent of missionaries and colonial government in his homeland. His principal character cannot accept the new order, even though the old has already collapsed. In the sequel No Longer at Ease (1960) he portrayed a newly appointed civil servant, recently returned from university study in England, who is unable to sustain the moral values he believes to be correct in the face of the obligations and temptations of his new position.

In Arrow of God (1964), set in the 1920s in a village under British administration, the principal character, the chief priest of the village, whose son becomes a zealous Christian, turns his resentment at the position he is placed in by the white man against his own people. A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987) deal with corruption and other aspects of postcolonial African life.

1.3 Statement of the Problem

Before Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart, all the novels that had been written about Africa and Africans were written by Europeans. Mostly, the European writings described Africans as uncivilised and uneducated persons. The Europeans, seeing that they thought of themselves as more advanced than Africans, were determined to help Africans shift from the old era into the modern era of civilisation and education.

Heart of Darkness, for instance, by Joseph Conrad was one of the most read novels around the time of its publication in 1899. Conrad described Africa as a “wild, ‘dark’, and uncivilised continent” (Sickels 1). Following Conrad’s novel in 1952 was Mister Johnson, a novel by Joyce Cary. Like Heart of Darkness, Mister Johnson was also quite a popular read; 5 | P a g e its reviews suggest it was a more popular read than Heart of Darkness. According to Sickels, Mister Johnson, describes the novel’s protagonist Mr Johnson generally as a “childish, semi educated African who reinforces colonialist stereotypes about Africa” .

Based on the descriptions of Africa and its people by both Conrad and Cary, it comes as no surprise that Achebe and other African writers began to emerge and tell their story of Africa and its people. Not only were Conrad and Cary’s novels a misrepresentation of Africa, they were also humiliating to its people. It is through the insights of Things Fall Apart that the world became more appreciative of Africa and its people and at the same time the truth surrounding the stereotypical ideas that once existed about Africa began to appear in a much clearer light.

Achebe writes Things Fall Apart to encourage his fellow countrymen to take advantage of the educational system that the missionaries introduced to them so as to better their lives. He is determined to take the modern African Literature genre to greater heights as well as to prove to the Europeans the value of the African culture. The novel was published during a period when a lot of writers emerged from Nigeria; among them are Wole Soyinka and Ben Okri. These writers all play an influential role in modern African Literature, both in their countries, and internationally.

However, Achebe was the most successful writer of the lot because he “has been critical of the role of Christianity in Africa, his criticism has been regarded generally as moderate and his creative work has won almost universal praise for its objectivity and detachment” (Sharma 85). In fact, he is “one of the writers of his time with fluency in the English language” (Jiffynotes.com 1). Nonetheless, this does not imply that Soyinka and Okri were not successful in their writing careers.

1.4 Aims and Objective of the study

The aim of this study is on the Analysis Of The Theme Of Tradition And Fate In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. In carrying out this study, the researcher will divide the theme of tradition and fate into  various components, thus the following are the makeup of the specific objectives;

1.      To examine the Concept and Practice of Igbo Indigenous tradition in Achebe’s thing fall apart

2.      To examine the Role of Priests and Priestesses in indigenous African tradition in Achebe’s thing fall apart

3.      To examine the Traditions That Decide Children’s Fate as portrayed in Achebe’s thing fall apart

4.      To examine the traditional Igbo Marriage Rituals as Depicted by Achebe’s thing fall apart

5.      To examine the traditional Annual Harvest Festivals among Igbo Societies as depicted by Achebe’s thing fall apart

6.      To examine the African Traditional Justice System as Depicted by Achebe’s thing fall apart

7.      To understand the Impact of Europeans Culture on African Traditions in Achebe’s thing fall apart

1.5 Scope of the study

This work have its scope on the Theme Of Tradition And Fate In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Only those elements of tradition in Achebe;s things fall apart will be analyzed in the theme nder study.

1.6  The Significance of the Study

Today African societies have neglected some of the rich cultural heritage and embraced the “white man’s” culture. Some of this initiation has prompted the clash between the Africans and Western culture. Writers, poets and even dramatist from different spheres of Africans have been using their works to sanitize these issues.

Similarly, it is believed that the conclusion of this research work will make a significant impact on the development of Africans literature adding to the existing work of a prominent researcher in exposing the conflict between Africans tradition and westernization.

The study will equally add to the existing body of knowledge on the subject matter. Students undergoing research work similar to the present study who may wish to use this work as a reference material or a spring board for their own work will find this work really useful.

1.7 Research Methodology

Using a qualitative method of data analysis, this research is mainly library-based. The primary source of data for this study is Chinua Achebe`s Things Fall Apart . Therefore, the secondary source of data collection is internet service and scholarly articles.



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