A decolonial "African mode of self-writing": The case of Chinua Achebe in Things fall apart.

28 July 2014

Against a background of arguments that Africa does not possess powerful modes of self-expression, the present paper explores Chinua Achebe’s Afrocentric literary vision that became his crowning reaction to colonialist imagination of Africa as an ahistorical and dark space that is bereft of humanity. Reactions to colonialist description of Africa have ranged, in the African academy, from the search for the origins of the name Africa to a critique of “the invention of Africa” after the colonial imaginary. Monumental research and writing has also been done on how in the transantlantic slavery of Africans and pursuant colonial settlement, Europe developed itself at the expense of Africa. Chinua Achebe has erected his work on a stubborn concern with the “image of Africa” as represented by colonialist and racist writers. This paper fleshes out Decolonial Critical Theory as its tool of reading and making sense of Chinua Achebe’s own decoloniality in defending Africa as a continent that has a wealth of history and humanity. The ability of Chinua Achebe to creatively appropriate the colonial English language and use it as a tool to rebuke Eurocentric imperialism and sensibility is understood as projecting a rebellious decoloniality and Afrocentricism that installs Achebe as one of Africa’s “whistle blowers against ideologies of Otherness.” It is a crowning argument of this paper that Achebe envisions, in terms of power and knowledge, a “world where other worlds are possible”, in so far as he gestures towards a conversation rather than a clash of civilisations in the globe.