Imperialism is the thirst for territory and power that leads to the deaths of many. During the year 1875, the British planned and began their invasion of Africa to spread Christianity through missionaries and expand their already massive empire. What motivated me to jump at the opportunity of doing my project on They set up churches, courts and a government for the archaic country. This was controversial and extremely tough because Africa consisted of small villages rather than cities and did not have a solid form of government but rather a local, tribal government each with their own language. The text Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe seems to remain true in its depiction of Government and religious control, Laws, Social Structure, Labor and Economics.
During the 1800's when the British started their massive invasion of Africa by sending out military force combined with educated missionaries. The job of these missionaries was to teach and convert the natives of the areas to Christianity while the Military's job was to enforce local laws.
The local laws were made by the officials sent with the military. The British set up Court systems that had their own jails and police. In the courts Whites, rarely prosecuted and blacks were both held to different standards. In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo, the protagonist of the story his summoned to the court along with several other tribal leaders is jailed for burning the church house. Their heads are shaved, and they are beaten during their stay in the jail. They are released only when "bail", two hundred and fifty cowries are paid to the court. Before the "white man" had arrived, the only laws that existed were set by the tribes like when Okonkwo is exiled for five years for killing a man of his own tribe. Although these punishments were not that strict, they caused a man to lose respect within his fellow tribe for example when Okonkwo is exiled, he loses his titles that he had earned for the past few years and respect from the other tribal members and leaders. Later in Africa laws that segregated Africans and caused them to move from a piece of land were introduced. Laws were also made up to tax the locals like taking away a certain percent of the harvest of farmers. Both in the book and Africa in the 1800's new rules set up by the British greatly altered the daily lives of Africans through strict laws and regulations
Religion was another item affected greatly by the invasion of British in South Africa. Before the British came to Africa and converted the Africans to Christianity, most tribes consisted of their own religion system like the tribe in Umuofia in Things Fall Apart believed in polytheism (Multiple gods). They believed that every person had their own spirit that affected the outcomes of their actions and their fate and also they had tribal gods who decided the fate of the clan. This was seen a lot when the British missionaries first learned of the traditions of the Africans. Some of their actions were looked down upon by the christen missionaries. These included not burying humans, killing kids with certain disabilities or "evils" In Things Fall Apart, when a baby twins are born in the village, the tribe decides to leave the babies to die in the "Evil Forest" This practice was severely painful to the church leaders who saw babies killed every day. Also people of certain class or certain kind were not allowed in the village. These people looked towards the church for support and soon the churches started getting crowded. In the book, Okonkwo own son, Nwoye leaves his father to become a disciple of the church. Religion also plays a key role towards the end of the book when Okonkwo hangs himself after killing one of the Court's messengers. Too afraid to be killed by the White man Okonkwo decides it would be best if he died a death of disgrace rather than being killed by "the white man" According to his tribe's traditions, Okonkwo couldn't be touched by his clan men after dying an unnatural death hence the Court Commissioner is forced to take down the body of Okonkwo which was left hanging on the tree. Throughout Africa and in the Book, Religion impacted the lives of the Africans through teaching them new traditions, accepting them, teaching them new values, and civilizing them.
After a few years of the invasion, the British took control of the jobs and economy of Africa. African money currency was cowries, through which they bought useful items. Most Africans were farmers during the 1800's before and after the colonization. But by 1869, Diamonds had been found in mines in Africa and Labor soon became the main source of income for Africans but Diamonds came with a heavier cost, Poverty. While the British got richer and richer off the hard ships of Africans, Africans fell deeper into poverty causing great changes in the social structures. Africans could not even afford essentials such as food. In the book Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe does not describe to the reader the conditions of work in Africa. In the book Okonkwo is just an ordinary farmer able to make a living and feed his three wives while actually in Africa people couldn't earn enough to even feed themselves. The labor also caused a major Geological move, since towns were built around or near mines and villagers decided to simply move to these sites and work in the horrifying and dangerous conditions. In the book Chinua Achebe displays Okonkwo as hard working farmers, but in reality most Africans were labors working for the white men in mines.
The text Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe seems to remain true in its depiction of Laws, Religious Control, Economics, Labor and Social Structure. The book portrays Okonkwo, the protagonist as a man afraid of the white man's laws, being majorly influenced by religion but tells an untrue story of the true economic and labor conditions in Africa during the time since in the mid 19th centaury almost half of Africa's population was working for British in Hazardous mines.
"African traditional religion." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 20 Dec 2009, 07:40 UTC. 27 Dec 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=African_traditional_religion&oldid=332819322>.
"Africa." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Dec 2009, 19:06 UTC. 27 Dec 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Africa&oldid=333331336>.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. 1958. London: Heinemann, 1987