Things Fall Apart.Â Yes, It is true…But Why?
The title ofÂ this famous book by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe underscores an unsettling reality.Â Â “Things Fall Apart” is a study ofÂ the contrasts which underlieÂ traditional African belief systems andÂ the impact of the wider world intersecting with these ancient customs.Â
As an young girl, I read this internationally celebrated book with excitement because it was written by a Nigerian author whoÂ earned worldwide acclaim.Â TheÂ book, “Things Fall Apart” isÂ a traditional African narrative about what it means to have personal honor in a world with a foreign system of values.Â The challenge of adapting to a rapidly changingÂ drum beatÂ are still urgent themes in the AfricanÂ experience today.
Today, the stage is set against a backdrop of several decades which have witnessed some of the most horrific happenings in Africa…Things Fall Apart is a jarring reminder of a sobering reality which seems to repeat itself across the continent.Â The list seems endless…Rwanda, South Africa, Angola, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria…and now Kenya, a nation thought to be a bastion of stability.
I’ve been reading a blog by a Kenyan woman which goes by the title “What An African Woman Thinks.”Â I read her reports about what is happening in her country and my heart weeps.Â IÂ weep forÂ opportunities squandered and promises broken.Â I weep for the ravaged remains of a bright future. Why does this type of terror and disorder feel it has such liberty to run rampant across the continent unabated?Â I weep because I can feelÂ her fear, dread and uncertainty…the destabilizing of the basic tenets of aÂ life which oneÂ used to takeÂ for granted.
In an odd sense, the deep currents of AfricanÂ tribal communal life have become aÂ double-edged sword.Â Â The talking drums that used to beat to spread news have now been replaced by the cell phone which relates news and happenings with lightening speed across communities. Tribal loyalties which for centuriesÂ have provided a framework of reference and a sense of honor and positionÂ are now the bloody laced poison which pits neighbor against neighbor.Â Yet, within thisÂ squalidÂ mash-up, profound acts of courage continue to emerge.Â
I think of women like my friend Patricia Jabbeh Wesley who endured the horrific grueling civil war in Liberia.Â AÂ celebrated poet, her chronicles of her life as an African woman are movingÂ testaments to the uniqueness of the African woman’s experience on the continent and in the diaspora whichÂ has flung Africa’s offspring to the farthest reaches of the world.
When Things Fall Apart, something within the human spirit rises toÂ chastise the notion that things must forever remain in a suspended sense of chaos. While there is much that cannot be avoided, the reality is that change always starts with one action…one person…one idea.Â One individual whoÂ determines to Fight to make a difference.
To Fight For Others is not a trite statement.Â Sometimes it may be a daily reality which means that you pretend to not be hungry so your children can eat.Â To Fight for others is to give every lastÂ penny youÂ earn to ensure that a child receives an education which is the ticketÂ for a better life.Â To Fight for others is to seek to find a way to maintain your uniqueness and remember your heritage within a foreign culture that is at once fascinating and alienating.Â
To Fight for others is to continue to hold deep within the womb of hopeÂ a firm belief thatÂ Africa willÂ one day awaken from it’s deep slumber and reach inside for the greatness that lies deep within theÂ soul of the continent.Â It is to know that simply continuing on…doing one’s best, keeping the torch litÂ against this dark backdropÂ is a fight which one must not loose.Â That hope is…a Thing which mustÂ Not fall apart.