Culture and Tradition in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Camara Laye’s the African Child

CULTURE AND TRADITION IN CHINUA ACHEBE’S THINGS FALL APART AND CAMARA LAYE’S THE AFRICAN CHILD

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1    Background to the Study

Culture is learned behaviour which each person acquires as a member of a group or society. Therefore, each character is a product of its unique history. Culture is an extensive feature of a group or society, also, it is a mark of identification and something that the individuals or groups could easily get sentimental about.

Culture and Tradition in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Camara Laye’s the African Child

Though the Encarta English Dictionary (2009) has different definition of culture varying from “arts collectively”, “knowledge and sophistication”, “share beliefs and practices” and so on, but the definition that best suits our course of study is that which states that:

Cultures are beliefs, customs, practices and social behaviour of a particular nation or people. Also, it can be a group of people whose shared beliefs and practices identify the particular place, class, or time to which they belong.

Culture is a human characteristic in which man expresses the totality of his ways of life in a collection setting. It can also be referred to as some total human activities shared by the member of the group, being a sentimental phenomenon which an individual not only cherishes, but also protects dearly. Thus, literature becomes the medium through which cultural and traditional sentiments are expressed and projected.

Africans in particular have, for a long time, been subjected to cultural imposition and displacement of foreign culture. This was due to the invasion by Europeans in the African regions. This does not mean that Africans received this foreign culture whole-heartedly. There was resistance and there has continued to be resistance through African arts, ethnic and culture. As a result of this resistance, the conflict between the Western World and Africans began to manifest. Today, plays that are protestant in nature are being written to this effect.

Culture and Tradition in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Camara Laye’s the African Child

Africans in particular have, for a long time, been subjected to cultural imposition and displacement of foreign culture. This was due to the invasion by Europeans in the African regions. This does not mean that Africans received this foreign culture whole-heartedly. There was resistance and there has continued to be resistance through African arts, ethnic and culture. As a result of this resistance, the conflict between the Western World and Africans began to manifest. Today, plays that are protestant in nature are being written to this effect.

On this note we shall defined conflict by adopting the definition from the Encarta Dictionary (2009) which state:

It is a disagreement or clash between ideas, principles, or people. It can also be psychological states resulting from simultaneous but incompatible desires, needs, drives or impulse.

The key words in the definition are “clash” and “disagreement”. This definition best suits our course of study because it is on this note that Achebe and Laye opposed in the two texts being understudied.

African literary writers are victims of cultural imperialism as a result of colonial rule of the European, therefore, at the same time, they try to force themselves out from colonial cultural imposition while projecting and glorify traditional cultures. In the words of Adeyemi (1993) citing Olurunmoye (P.15) “culture supplies us our habits of life…”

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