“The white man is very clever… He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart”-Things Fall Apart
“Things Fall Apart” is obviously a clash between two cultures, which can never be forgotten in the history of Nigerian society. With the arrival of white men in Ibo society, the honour of people as well as their culture disappeared. The novel covers pre-colonial elements, happened in Ibo society, when Nigerian people encounter with a new religion. The first portion of the novel covers all traditional events in detail and the second part, after the exile of Okonkwo, the arrival of white men depressed them and changed their minds. The writer very minutely described the traditional values of Ibo society, giving us an idea about their social events and sacred way of living but soon our thoughts diverts with the change, going to be happen in that society with the arrival of a new culture. Things, shattered, social values were harmed and the people, with unhappy souls, welcome the new religion and culture in Ibo society. It was the time, when European Colonialism was expanding and when it reached in Nigerian societies, it was unacceptable by those people but they have no choice except to adopt their culture. The novel gives us clear cut sketch and the psyche of Ibo society, which was effected by the influx of white men in the Nigerian society. The writer portray outer as well as inner condition of Ibo people regarding the matter that they have not accepted this culture as easily as it seems to the world. It was the greatest tragedy of their lives to accept a new culture as it will going to transfigure their survival.
The conflict arises in the tale when Okonkwo returns from exile. He finds white men have good influence in Igbo society. Even his son has accepted their culture and founda flourishing life with the aliens. Okonkwo tries his best to stop white men, without realizing that they have strengthen their impact on the people. Obierika was right when he says that the white men have put knife on the things, which held theme together. A culture is the art and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively and definitely Ibo culture may not be a perfect culture but it was the name, given to the lives of Nigerian people. They had proud on their culture as it was the only reason to hold them together but with inflame of new values, their pride destroyed. There is no ambiguity in that a culture is the name of ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular nation or society and when these things were replaced with a new culture, it totally drifted the lives of those people and categorized them in the list of new nations.
Chinua Achebe is a colonizer writer and colonizer writers express their experience which, according to them, is no less traumatizing. In “Things Fall Apart”, Achebe writes of the actual moment of colonization with the arrival of missionaries and administrative apparatus of Britain at the turn of the century. The colonized mainly speak of the trauma, humiliation and slave mentality induced in their psyche. Thus, “Things Fall Apart” is not the story of people but it is the name of their thinking and mindset, which was completely flickered because of the fading of their social norms. Hence, the fact cannot be denied that Ibo slandered was much effected when white men arrived in their societies and stamped their own values on their minds. The story of Okonkwo is not only the story of an individual but it is the fate of every person, who is spending life under such circumstances. The words uttered by Obierika, were not just a conversation but it was the summary of minds of Ibo people, who were not happy with the arrival of a new culture.
The upshot of the above discussion is that white men’s arrival in Ibo society was a dilemma for those people. If we, by reading, find it a tragic story for those people, then what about them? The have felt it. Although, change is the law of nature yet it is a change, which is disastrous and cannot be accepted by a prudent mind so easily and smoothly. Ibo society did fruitless efforts to save their rational values but they could not hold their culture, Ibo people did their best but when they found no solution, they had no choice accept to mold their lives according to the new values. Obierika’s statement is the conclusion of this novel as well as it encompasses the psychological condition of Nigerian people. He was right when he said “The white man is very clever… He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart”.