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In his book Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe tells the story of Okonkwo, an African "strong man" and leader in his village at the moment of first contact between Europeans and Africans.


Okonkwo's experiences reveal the complicated and troubling story of colonialism in Africa.

Igbo mask dancers performing during the Onwa Asaa festival, Ugwuoba village, Nigeria. 1959 by Eliot Elisofon

The Igbo of Nigeria

The country of Nigeria is home to more than 350 ethnic groups. The largest groups are the Hausa, the Yoruba and the Igbo. Achebe's Things Fall Apart describes the social, cultural and religious life of a traditional Igbo community in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, just before and during their initial contact with Christian missionaries.


The Igbo were traditionally farmers, raising yams and harvesting oil from palm trees. They believed that individuals attained their greatest potential when they were aligned with nature and their community. Igbo culture “defined success as individual achievement rooted in communal cooperation and group solidarity” (Obrien,1998:14). 

“I am because we are, and since we are,

                       therefore I am”


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