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had three huge barns, nine wives and thirty children. “(Achebe, 15) These men held titles which gave them a higher status in society. It was the responsibility of the clansmen to watch out for other individuals in their society. We do not ask for wealth because he that has health and children will also have wealth. We do not pray to have more money but to have more kinsmen. We are better than animals because we have kinsmen. An animal rubs its itching flank against a tree, a man asks his kinsmen to scratch him. (Achebe, 145)
This exemplifies the values of a traditional Igbo society where the bond between fellow members of the society as well as health was greatly cherished. They held the life of their kinsmen very high. Achebe goes a step further in describing the elaborate family system of the natives. Unlike Haggard’s previously discussed perception implying the underestimated value of money, agriculture played an important role in supporting the polygamous household. The natives grew crops and also reared and tamed animals such as chicken and goats.
Achebe’s attitude discretely explains that the native society in the mid 19th century was civilized contrary to the image established by Sir Henry Rider Haggard. Africa is known for its majestic beauty, flora and fauna. King Solomon’s Mines offers wondrous descriptions of the landscape and wilderness found in the untamed, uncivilized, unadulterated land. “There are the deep kloofs cut in the hills by the rushing rains of centuries, down which the rivers sparkle; there is the deepest green of the bush, growing as God planted it…
” (Haggard, 32) The possibility of untold treasures still to be discovered within the hidden parts of the land naturally sparks ideas of heroic adventures. Haggard considers the unexplored land as being dark and evil. “But here and there you meet … make out a little piece of history of this dark land. ” (Haggard, 18) On the other hand, Achebe’s novel is embedded with multitudes of descriptions of the natural environment as well as how people have modeled their economy around it: The last big rains of the year were falling. It was the time for treading red earth with which to build walls.
It was not done earlier because the rains were too heavy and would have washed away the heap of trodden earth; and it could not be done later because harvesting would soon set in, and after that the dry season. (Achebe, 142) Similar to Haggard, Achebe has depicted Africans as living in mud huts, but the distinction in their attitude can be easily made through analyzing the following description: Oknonkwo’s prosperity was visible in the household. He had a large compound enclosed by a thick wall of red earth. His own hut, or obi, stood immediately behind the only gate in the red walls…
The barn was built against one end of the red walls, and long stacks of yam stood out prosperously in it. (Achebe, 11) Things Fall Apart describes the homes were the representation of the owner’s prosperity and success in the society. The attitudes exhibited by both writers towards the topography of the land are similar, even though Achebe describes the significance of seasons and climatic changes in the natives’ lives. Sir Henry Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart are concise novels which offer insightful descriptions of Africa and Africans as discussed above.
They elaborate upon the beliefs, values and harmony of the people with their native land. Haggard’s description of Africa and Africans shows that his attitude is not completely detached from the stereotypical European beliefs. Achebe is successful in offering a credible and historically accurate description of the rich land, diverse culture and unique traditions. His attitude cannot be considered completely just nor unbiased as he is discussing the history of his own people. However, the analysis of the two novels brings out an interesting pattern.
The perceptions presented in the novels preserve the thinking of the society when the two novels were each written. The post colonial society of today is much more accepting of the diversity present in indigenous cultures. This acceptance and appreciation was suppressed in the colonial era when strong nations such as Britain were colonizing other parts of the world. Overtime, our global society has prodigiously evolved and continues this progression implicating a growth of acceptance and appreciation of cultural diversity.