Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart is a 1958 English language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African novels written in English to receive global critical acclaim. The title of the novel comes from William Butler Yeats's poem "The Second Coming". In 2009, Newsweek ranked Things Fall Apart #14 on its list of Top 100 Books: The Meta-List.

The novel depicts the life of Okonkwo, a leader and local wrestling champion in Umuofia, one of a fictional group of nine villages in Nigeria, inhabited by the Igbo ethnic group. In addition it focuses on his three wives, his children, and the influences of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on his traditional Igbo (archaically "Ibo") community during the late nineteenth century.

Things Fall Apart was followed by a sequel, No Longer at Ease (1960), originally written as the second part of a larger work together with Things Fall Apart, and Arrow of God (1964), on a similar subject. Achebe states that his two later novels, A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987), while not featuring Okonkwo's descendants and set in fictional African countries, are spiritual successors to the previous novels in chronicling African history.

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Photo: African Tribal Masks

Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Subsaharan and West Africa. While the specific implications associated to ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, some traits are common to most African cultures: for example, masks usually have a spiritual or religious meaning and they are used in ritual dances and social and religious events, and a special status is attributed to the artists that create masks and to those that wear them in ceremonies. In most cases, mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings conveyed by such masks. Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Subsaharan and West Africa. While the specific implications associated to ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, some traits are common to most African cultures: for example, masks usually have a spiritual or religious meaning and they are used in ritual dances and social and religious events, and a special status is attributed to the artists that create masks and to those that wear them in ceremonies. In most cases, mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings conveyed by such masks.


Photo: African Dance
African dance refers mainly to the dance of Sub-Saharan Africa, and more appropriately African dances because of the many cultural differences in musical and movement styles. These dances must be viewed in close connection with African music, as many African languages have no word to define music. These dances teach social patterns and values and helps people work, mature, praise or criticize members of the community while celebrating festivals and funerals, competing, reciting history, proverbs and poetry; and to encounter gods. The most widely used musical instrument in Africa is the human voice. Although nomadic groups such as the Maasai do not traditionally use drums; in villages throughout the continent, the sound and the rhythm of the drum express the mood of the people. The drum is the sign of life; its beat is the heartbeat of the community. Such is the power of the drum to evoke emotions, to touch the souls of those who hear its rhythms. In an African community, coming together in response to the beating of the drum is an opportunity to give one another a sense of belonging and of solidarity. It is a time to connect with each other, to be part of that collective rhythm of the life in which young and old, rich and poor, men and women are all invited to contribute to the society.

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