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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

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Conflict is a disagreement or clash between people, ideas; or in the case of our study, cultures. Therefore, culture becomes a unique and sentimental phenomenon that is not only cherished but also protected dearly by an individual as well.

Thus, literature has become the means through which cultural sentiments are projected and expressed. Africans in particular, have been subjected to cultural imposition through displacement of Western Culture.  This project tends to examine the Eurocentric psyche that considers Westernization superior.

This study adopted the sociological theory by focusing on Achebe’s and Laye’s Things Fall Apart and The African Child respectively because the two texts best suit our study. We discussed these conflicts through societal norm and belief system and psychological conflict. In line with this, it was recommended that no culture should be seen as superior to the other.



1.1     Background to the Study

1.2     Statement of the Problem

1.3     Purpose of the Study

1.4     Significance of the Study

1.5     Research Methodology

1.6     Scope and Limitation of the Study

1.7     Definition of Terms


2.1     Analysis of Culture and Tradition

2.2     Relevance of Culture and Tradition in the African Society


3.1     Bio-Data of Chinua Achebe

3.2     Analysis of Things Fall Apart

3.3     Thematic Analysis in Things Fall Apart

3.4     Style and Narrative Technique in Things Fall Apart

3.5     Characterization


4.1     Bio-Data of Camara Laye

4.2     Analysis of The African Child

4.3     Traditional Education in The African Child    

4.4     The African Child: An Image of Culture


 5.1     Summary

5.2     Conclusion

5.3     Recommendations

Works Cited

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



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.

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.

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…”

1.2    Statement of the Problem

Research work is meant for knowledge advancement. Every researcher uses this medium to elaborate upon the information implied in the title of the study. As such every research work has the intention of solving specific problems through a planned and systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data.

Today, Africans have neglected some of their rich cultural heritage and adopted the “white-man’s” culture. Some of which has prompted the clash between the Africans and Western culture. Africans, to some extend disregard their tradition. Therefore, this research will by the end have answered question like:

–        How is Africans culture perceived by Africans?

–        What has been the effect of colonial intrusion in African society?

–        What causes conflict between African and western culture?

1.3    Purpose of the Study   

The purpose of this work is to reveal the conflicting point between the traditional and western culture using the texts: Things Fall Apart and The African Child by Achebe and Laye. In doing this, we shall focus on what these conflicts are and how they have been expressed by the play wrights.

To examine the reserved, norms, nature, values and cultural practice of Africans by looking at the play which are set in the past World War II in Nigeria.

1.4    Significant of the Study

Today African societies have neglected some of the rich cultural heritage and embraced the “white-man’s” culture. Some of this initiation has prompted the clash between the Africans and Western culture. Writers, poets and even dramatist from different spheres of Africans have been using their works to sanitize these issues.

Similarly, it is believed that the conclusion of this research work will make a significant impact on the development of Africans literature adding to the existing work of prominent researcher in exposing conflict between Africans tradition and westernization.

1.5 Research Methodology

Using a qualitative method of data analysis, this research is mainly library based. The primary source of data for this study is Chinua Achebe`s Things Fall Apart and Camara Laye’s The African Child. The secondary source of data collection is internet service and scholarly articles.

Based on the texts set aside for this research, sociological theory is adopted because it is best suit the study. Under sociological theory, we shall look at societal norms, belief system, psychological conflict and generation gap conflict. In the analysis of these elements, some of the dialogues of the characters in the text shall be looked at, the characters, event and incidents shall be focused on as well.

1.6    Scope and Limitation of the Study

This work aims at finding the conflict between the traditional and western culture. And also, how Achebe and camara laye have been able to Use: Things Fall Apart and The African Child, to explore this. The research shall be limited to a critical analysis of conflict between these two cultures mentioned by comparing the two texts and showing how they have been portrayed because both texts best capture the existence of the conflicts of the two cultures.

1.7    Definition of Terms

Culture: This can simply be defined as the beliefs, customs, arts etc. of a particular society, group, place that has its own beliefs or ways of life. Also, it is a way of thinking, behaving and working that exists in a particular society or organization comprises of individuals.

Tradition: This refers to inherited, established or customary pattern of thought, action and behaviour such as religious practice or social custom. Tradition could be a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable.

Similarly, it is the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of the mouth (oral word) or by example from one generation to another without written instruction. It can be regarded as cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs and institution.

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