Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review : An Image Of Africa - Chinua Achebe 8*

This is a short book in the Penguin Classics Great Ideas series and compromises two essays by Achebe.

In the first essay Achebe de-constructs Conrad's Heart Of Darkness and re-presents it as an essentially racist work. In this he seems to echo sentiments also expressed by Edward Said in Orientalism, that Westerners needed to construct other parts of the world to suit their own narrow world view, and that within this world view they were unable to accept other civilisations and their works as being in any way comparable to the 'great' civilisations of Europe.

The second and longer essay dwells on the politics of Nigeria (in the early 1980's) and the corruption and moral emptiness of the country's leaders. It is a fascinating essay and many of the points Achebe makes could be applied to governments and politicians in almost any nation. Achebe rails against both corruption in government and the prevailing idea that this is the way that Nigerian life is and has to be. Achebe tackles both the big political picture and fine points which he feels would improve day to day life for most Nigerians. Whether this be the irrational behaviour of car drivers or the martial image presented by politicians Achebe presents a series of thoughtful and common-sense arguments to counter some of Nigeria's woes.

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