Theme Of Corruption In The Post-Colonial African Novel

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

Theme Of Corruption In The Post-Colonial African Novel


Chinua Achebe (born Nov. 16, 1930) is a Nigerian novelist, critic and poet; he is one of the most-read African authors. The primary concern of Chinua Achebe, the recipient of the Man Booker International Prize, 2007, was his society, more precisely, the destiny of hispeople. Achebe, perhaps the most authentic literary voice from Africa, wrote not only to record the African, especially Nigerian, life but to analyse the reality experienced by the native people in different times and situations. In his view, the writer must be accountable to his society. To him it was absurd to think of art as a pure and autonomous entity coming into existence by itself in an aesthetic void.

Accordingly, his aim was to make his fiction an instrument of awareness seeking to elevate the social reality to a higher level. In this regard, the paper is an attempt to show Achebe’s endeavour to expose the rampant corruption and evil in Nigeria to exert a decisive and positive influence on his people. For Gimba, the intrigues and contestation over power, especially within the civil service, assume a metaphoric significance in unraveling social contradictions in society.

Gimba thus, evaluates the various dimensions of power and how it is used to subjugate or oppress people. In most of his works, Gimba pillories the repressive nature of power and the conflicts it engenders are graphically illustrated. In his articulation of this disabling environment, Gimba evokes a consciousness, concerned with Manichaenism and alienation. Gimba is sensitive to his characters as they adjust to the uncertainties of a postcolonial society with all the indices of underdevelopment, greed, corruption, bureaucratic tardiness, indiscipline, political instability etc. These characteristics of modern Nigeria form the background from which Gimba’s characters are drawn.

However, drawing from their Islamic background, the characters in Gimba’s works express their morality, conviction and thought through the ideals of the religion. This leads to a remarkable blending of social and moral concerns with the supervening influence of Islam without sermonization. The outcome of this fusion is a balance between aesthetics and spiritual interests in a way that captures the essence of Northern Nigeria with vividness and freshness. Gimba, like Tahir, therefore relates the traditional and cultural values of the people to their response to the dilemma of new experiences and their interpretations of them.

Chapter One


1.1 Background Of The Study

Chinua Achebe has proven his worth among English-speaking African novelists by representing the African social and political environment in a thoroughly realistic way. His novels depict life within a particular historical background, and convey a sense of growing disgust and unrest within Nigerian society, a society that has started to emerge from the ‘colonial complex’ caused by years of denigration and self-abasement. A Man of the People

(1967) is Achebe’s fourth novel. It describes Nigeria in its post-independence phase, during which time the country became a ‘cesspool of corruption and misrule’ in the context of colonial-style social and economic development, a situation that resulted in conflict between the emergent elitist middle class and the general populace. Achebe’s reputation as a novelist rests on his impartial understanding of, and ability to represent the Nigerian environment.

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