Things Fall Apart…And Other Salient Observations

Africa on the mapThings Fall Apart.  Yes, It is true…But Why?

The title of this famous book by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe underscores an unsettling reality.  “Things Fall Apart” is a study of the contrasts which underlie traditional African belief systems and the impact of the wider world intersecting with these ancient customs. 

As an young girl, I read this internationally celebrated book with excitement because it was written by a Nigerian author who earned worldwide acclaim. The book, “Things Fall Apart” is a traditional African narrative about what it means to have personal honor in a world with a foreign system of values.  The challenge of adapting to a rapidly changing drum beat are still urgent themes in the African 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. 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.”  I read her reports about what is happening in her country and my heart weeps. I weep for opportunities squandered and promises broken.  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?  I weep because I can feel her fear, dread and uncertainty…the destabilizing of the basic tenets of a life which one used to take for granted.

African drumIn an odd sense, the deep currents of African tribal communal life have become a double-edged sword.  The talking drums that used to beat to spread news have now been replaced by the cell phone which relates news and happenings with lightening speed across communities.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 centuries have provided a framework of reference and a sense of honor and position are now the bloody laced poison which pits neighbor against neighbor.  Yet, within this squalid mash-up, profound acts of courage continue to emerge. 

I think of women like my friend Patricia Jabbeh Wesley who endured the horrific grueling civil war in Liberia.  A celebrated poet, her chronicles of her life as an African woman are moving testaments to the uniqueness of the African woman’s experience on the continent and in the diaspora which has flung Africa’s offspring to the farthest reaches of the world.

When Things Fall Apart, something within the human spirit rises to 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.  One individual who determines to Fight to make a difference.

To Fight For Others is not a trite statement.  Sometimes it may be a daily reality which means that you pretend to not be hungry so your children can eat.  To Fight for others is to give every last penny you earn to ensure that a child receives an education which is the ticket for a better life.  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. 

To Fight for others is to continue to hold deep within the womb of hope a firm belief that Africa will one day awaken from it’s deep slumber and reach inside for the greatness that lies deep within the soul of the continent.  It is to know that simply continuing on…doing one’s best, keeping the torch lit against this dark backdrop is a fight which one must not loose.  That hope is…a Thing which must Not fall apart.

Lola Audu

8 Responses to “Things Fall Apart…And Other Salient Observations”

  1. Missy Caulk February 1, 2008 at 6:21 pm #

    I love it, so passionate. I sent underwear, but Rocky left before it arrived, but I’m sure it made it there. “deep within the womb of hope”, wow I really like that.

  2. Lola February 1, 2008 at 7:22 pm #

    Missy…thank you so much for stopping here to comment as well as on AR. It means alot. I didn’t know that you were involved with the underwear project for the children in Kenya. That was amazing to see how things came together.

  3. Amy February 3, 2008 at 7:04 pm #

    What an well written post!! I could feel your passion!

  4. Amy February 3, 2008 at 7:09 pm #

    What a well written post! I could feel your passion! I can’t wait for you next post!!

  5. Lola February 4, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    Thank you Amy. In many ways the situation in Africa inspires hope and despair. The two are linked in an intricate dance of polar opposites.

  6. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley November 9, 2009 at 6:13 am #

    Good Morning, Lola,

    I am running off to University Park (my school) to speak on the topic “Who Owns African Lit?” and just saw your new link on my blog, so I came to check it out. I did not know it was you, so here I am smiling, happy to see you have a new face to your blogging. This is so lovely. Love you, my Sister.

    Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

  7. Lola Audu November 9, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    Patricia, what a delight to hear from you today! Thank you for your comment. You are an inspiration. 🙂


  1. Mothers Fighting For Others….One Woman’s Journey. « Grand Rapids Real Estate Musings… - February 1, 2008

    […] to her blog Mothers Fighting For Others.  I’ve just finished my first post…”Things Fall Apart…and Other Salient Observations.  click here to visit Mothers Fighting For Others. It’s a wonderful collection of […]

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