2014 Student Research Conference:
27th Annual Student Research Conference

Debunking the Myth of "the Dark Continent": Chinua Achebe's portrayal of pre-colonial Ibo society in his novel Things Fall Apart
Jamillia E. Lunn
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

A romantic name given to the unexplored continent of Africa during the pre-colonial period, the term "the Dark Continent" helped fantasize Western ideas about a continent they had little knowledge of. Described as dangerous, backwards, and disease-ridden, the past ideas about Africa and its people still linger in today's world. Chinua Achebe challenges the myths of the African continent in his novel Things Fall Apart through his theme of the complexity of Ibo society prior to European arrival. Rich descriptions of various cultural ceremonies, rituals, and lifestyle of the Ibo people help readers understand the sophistication of Ibo society. Through the characters in the novel, the importance of the institutions of family, religion, and politics are shown in strength through their respect and knowledge towards them. Ultimately, Achebe's theme of cultural complexity encourages Westerners to think about their misperceptions of this continent, thus debunking the myths of Africa.

Keywords: African history, pre-colonial Africa, Ibo society, cultural studies, history, culture clash, colonization, Nigeria

Topic(s):African Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 205-1
Location: VH 1320
Time: 9:30

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