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A foreign ideology is a concept of strange or rather an indifferent set of conscious or even

unconscious system of ideas and ideals. A foreign concept of thinking and reasoning is what
impacted on traditional African culture as it became infected with western traditions and
values. Chinua Achebe in his book, Things Fall Apart, attempt to give the reader, a before the
invasion look at African culture, it then goes onto show the introduction of western values and
then lastly it shows the impact it has as a result of these new values being integrated into the
society. Achebe uses his structure of his novel as he separate his novel in three parts making the
chapters directly before and after the sections significantly important in showing this. Ama Ata
Aidoo on the other hand seeks to show the same influence that western culture had on the
African tradition but she does this from a different perspective. Unlike Achebe who separates his
novel in three distinctive parts, Aidoo in her play Anowa, uses her chorus to show the reader or
audience through graphic imagery how the land was before the invasion of the westerners.
Achebe who shows his society in a patriarchal light, Aidoo sets her play in a matriarchal society
but shows the effects in a before and after way through her setting. Unlike Achebe there is no
before and after of the society and its people before the onslaught of western values however the
prologue acts as a type of ground for setting the stage. On the other hand George Lammings
novel, In the Castle of My Skin is set around the 1950s, centuries later. Unlike the previous two
writers, Achebe and Aidoo, Lamming shows the effects of what they were introducing about the
African society, by extension through what later became the Caribbean. Each artist, Achebe,
Aidoo and Lamming in their work, utilise techniques such as characterisation, symbolism and
major themes of change and colonialism to show the impact the outside ideologies had on
African societies and through Lamming, by extension the Caribbean.

Characterisation does not only give the reader insight into the type of person which the
author tried to create but a larger purpose the character undertakes and that is to show how the
external forces can impact on ones thinking as well as ones re-action to something and action on
something. This is also realistic in its thought process as ones past and history definitely
influences ones present ideologies. Achebes main character in showing how foreign ideologies
impact on a person and then by extension the wider community is Okonkwo. The difference
however is that Okwonko is not affected like the society Okwonko does not adapt to change and
this in itself is how Okwonko is impacted. Being from a patriarchal society Okonkwo is placed
on high esteem but this is also through great perseverance of not wanting to become inferior like
his father, Unoka. In part one of the novel, Okonkwo is praised from the beginning. Okonkwo
became famous from the young age of eighteen as he had thrown Amalinze the Cat, described as
a great fighter who was unbeaten for seven years until Okonkwo. From the beginning Achebe
does not attempt to paint Okwonko as a saint of sorts he makes him a very realistic character.
Okwonko has his faults one being his temper, as much praise as he is given, Okwonko is a very
violent person, this is seen from in the beginning, he seemed to walk on spring, as if he was
going to pounce on somebody. And he did pounce on people quite often. He had a stammer and
whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists.
He is later described like this as well when he breaks African tradition and beats one of his wives
during the week of peace. By doing this Achebe is making the character more relatable but not
only so, Achebe is also showing the reader how Okwonko will be set up due to his temper when
colonialism is introduced. Okwonko then can be seen as a modern day tragic hero due to his
temper being his tragic flaw as this will be the downfall of him when the white man makes his
appearance. One can then say that Achebe is showing how Okonkwo is ripe for showing the

horrors of colonialism. Due to his anger in part two when we are told of the white mans
appearance in Abame, Okwonkos first reaction is why did not the Abame people arm themselves
at all times? This foreshadows how Okwonko will react when faced with the western culture and
western laws. In part three of Things Fall Apart Okwonko kills a messenger who has come to
order a meeting between some of the great men in Umuofia to stop as ordered by the white
man. Okwonko kills this messenger swiftly and quietly. By doing this Achebe shows how
Okwonko is prone to acting rashly but however one can see how the impacting culture was
Okwonkos downfall. On the face of it, it appears as if Okonkwo has not been affected by the
invasion of the white man, he is seeking to be as he once was, he is still interested in society as it
was and he is still a warrior at heart. However, what one should account for is the fact that
Okwonko does not adapt to change and this is his downfall, he is set in his ways and it is ironic
that he dies in shame like his father did. According to the authors of Sparknotes, Achebes recreation of the complexity of Okonkwos and Umuofias situation lends fairness to his writing. At
the same time, his critique of colonialism and of colonial literary representations comes across
loud and clear.
Like Achebe, Aidoo also uses characterisation to show the impact of foreign ideologies
on her African society found in her play Anowa. Unlike Achebe though she has her play from a
matriarchal society and she is able to use a male, Kofi Ako, to show how western values can
contaminate and change ones traditional values. There is no before and after like there was for
Okwonko in Things Fall Apart but however the chorus does make reference to Kofi in Things
Fall Apart (1969) Kofi was, is and shall always be/One of us(67). However this is ironic given
what the audience is just told about others and this is exactly how Kofi will be deemed later as
well, depend for their well-being on the presence of the pale stranger(67). Kofi is a direct

representative of how western culture impacts on another culture. From the play this can be seen
through the many conversations which Kofi have with Anowa about marriage. At one point in
the novel Anowa has brought up the topic of finding a second wife for Kofi which irritates him,
shown through stage directions, she goes onto say, See if I dont. One of these plump Oguaa
mulatto women. With a skin as smooth as shea-butter and golden like fresh palm-oil on yam.
Kofi from the get go has made it very clear he will take only one wife, that wife being Anowa.
This is linked to western culture and that is through monogamous relationships, as one can note
that in Africa, polygamy is normal and the fact that Kofi is opposed that he is by essence
opposed to traditions and by all means has embraced western society. Kofi is impacted upon
these values so much so that he is not only impacted by them but he also becomes them. Kofi
goes onto embrace his western culture more so than tradition as he is seen purchasing slaves and
not only that these slaves call him father and Anowa mother. Significantly this can be linked to
how colonialism makes some persons dependent on others like the boy and then like the girl
colonialism can cause rebellion in others much like Okonkwo. Lamming is instructive in this
sense as well as he also attempts to show through characterisation how colonialism years after
still has its impact on individuals who are descendants of Africans. This psychological damage
never goes away as seen in the overseer types found in Lammings novel where they work very
hard at keeping their own race down, a tactic used by colonizers. Also through Mr. Croton who
represents persons like the Commissioner in Things Fall Apart or Kofi in Anowa, showing great
sympathy in an attempt to trap the individual blindsided.
In speaking about Kofi as a character this can lead to the very symbolic role he plays
along with Anowa. Symbolism is a well used technique by Aidoo in her attempt to show western
values and how they can creep in and take over and also kill an entire tradition. Anowa

represents the African tradition and Kofi, western values and traditions. In using props such as
clothes, Aidoo is able to show these different cultures. Anowa is said to be seen in the same cloth
from the beginning of the novel to the end, this is Aidoo attempting to show that some Africans
sought to remain the same but unfortunately change can be for the better or the worst and not
adapting to life can be detrimental and this is seen in Anowas madness and then unfortunate
death. However on the other hand Kofi changes from a mere worker to a person of much esteem.
Yes Aidoo uses African things that are considered of value in African tradition however she does
not do so for their significance. Kofi wears Kente cloth and has his own stool and other riches
and jewels and this is the product of colonialism at its best. While Anowa remains the same
unchanging and in some ways suffering because of it Kofi takes and takes as it is because of
Anowa Kofi is where he is so this is symbolic of the taking of natural resources from Africa to
finance western societies. Salah D Hassan in her work stated, The Northern races will take the
raw material from Africa and bring them back in such forms as will contribute to the comfort
and even elegance of life in that country; while the African in the simplicity and purity of rural
enterprises will be able to cultivate those spiritual elements in humanityHe will find out not
under pressure, but in an entirely normal and natural way. By way of explanation there will be
no force like the persons in Abame from Things Fall Apart but it will be subtle and that is the
most deadly kind, when you do not know what is coming. This coincidentally is very similar to
some of the symbols found in Lammings novel, In the Castle of My Skin. In chapter seven there
is a old woman and a young boy and he is stealing from her he is even so bold as to when she
sees him he is quite friendly in his endeavor and sits next to the woman as if they were close and
when she drifts back off to sleep he begins his stealing escapade again. This shows the main
characteristic of colonialism that is the taking from one country to support another; it may not

always be by force but by a sense of psychological damage still present in people hundreds of
years later. Achebe also attempts to use symbolism but instead of characters or individuals he
uses locust, a delicacy for the Ibo people. The fact that when the locust come persons tend to be
quite accepting and never question why locust would come and what is it exactly. But it is how
the locust descended; Achebe uses the imagery to capture the invasion of colonialism. Achebe
wrote, And at last the locusts did descend. They settled on every tree and on every blade of
grass; they settled on the roofs and covered the bare ground. Mighty tree branches broke away
under them, and the whole country became the brown-earth color of the vast, hungry
swarm(40-41). It is not by accident that Achebes language is so graphic he wanted to see that
as good as something was, after locust was a delicacy and very rare, there was always a
downside to something and in this case it was the locust and how it broke mighty trees.
Colonialism did the same with mighty countries and when the westerners were finish exploiting
the weaker countries it became like a hungry swarm always seeking more and wanting more
even when there was none to give.
The major themes utilised by the three writers are change and colonialism and they can
be linked and used simultaneously as they both are instrumental in showing the introduction and
the impact of western tradition on African tradition. Each and every one of these societies went
through change whether it was Okwonko like Anowa who refused to change with the times or G
in his adolescent stages not wanting to think that change was possible. Each society went from
communal to individualistic and this change was all brought about by colonialism. Solomon
Iyasere (1969) noted about Things Fall Apart, "The peace of the tribe as a whole takes
precedence over personal considerations. Change linked with colonialism can be found at the
end of chapter twenty four with the killing of the chief messenger being slain by Okwonko.

Previously Achebe showed Okwonko reflecting on life as it was in the village before the
invasion of the white man. By doing this Achebe then sets the stage for the killing Okwonko has
a hand in. Okwonko is fighting not to change but times in Umoufia as he knows it is over, Mr.
Brown psychologically damaged some individuals but his successor Mr. Smith was a tyrant and
this kept individuals in line. Colonialism was used as a tool of change for westerners, which
change being one of superiority to inferiority. It is said the only way to make a man do as he is
told is to make him lower than you yourself are. Aidoo also attempts to make this causal
connection between the two but not as Achebe did. Aidoo shows the switch from a matriarchal
society to characteristics set out from a patriarchal society. She uses the character Anowa to
further what she meant by a changing society. At one point in the book Anowa is annoyed that
she must now do as her husband ask of. Anowa believed she should have been taught to be
submissive woman but rather one with an opinion on her life and also on societies. Lamming
also uses change in an instrumental way to show that change can be for the better and it need not
only demonstrate catastrophe.
Theme, symbolism and characterisation all play a wider significance in the
characterisation and also the plot build up. Things such as love and change should coexist so that
home time does not mean the invasion of others.


Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969.

Aidoo, A. A. 1974. Anowa. Great Britain: The Chaucer Press Ltd.1995.

Iyasere, Solomon. "Narrative Techniques in Things Fall Apart". Critical Perspectives on Chinua
Achebe. Ed. Killam, G.D. London: Heyman, 1969. p. 98

Salah D Hassan. Cannons after Post Colonial Studies. New York: Longman: pg21

SparkNotes Editors. SparkNote on Things Fall Apart. SparkNotes LLC.

2002. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.