A short little west African novel. Oct 27, Ben Dutton rated it it was amazing This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Anthills of the Savannah see Achebe returning to similar territory as his last novel, A Man of the People politics of post-colonial Africa. A charismatic young Sandhurst trainer army officer, known only in the novel as Sam or His Excellency, has been swept into power in the troubled state of Kangan. After he is defeated in a vital referendum, his role as dictator becomes unsteady, and there can Anthills of the Savannah see Achebe returning to similar territory as his last novel, A Man of the People — politics of post-colonial Africa.
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Anthills of the Savannah: Compare and Contrast Anthills of the Savannah: Topics for Further Study Anthills of the Savannah: Bibliography and Further Reading Anthills of the Savannah: Pictures It was published in the United States the following year.
The novel just prior to Anthills of the Savannah was A Man of the People, a book that foreshadows the military coups that would figure largely in Nigerian politics in the coming years. Anthills of the Savannah 1 Anthills of the Savannah tells the story of three schoolmates who become major figures in a new regime in the fictional West African land of Kangan.
Achebe addresses the course unbridled power often takes and demonstrates how the fierce pursuit of self-interest comes at tremendous cost to the community as a whole. Critics note that this novel is a departure for the author in that he creates fully developed female characters and suggests that the women are sources of moral strength, tradition, and hope in the face of violence and deception.
Anthills of the Savannah: Chinua Achebe Biography Born in eastern Nigeria on November 16, Chinua Achebe was deeply influenced by the Ibo one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria and by the British colonial and post-colonial elements of contemporary African society.
His father, one of the first Christian converts in the village, was a member of the Church Missionary Society and strongly discouraged his son from accepting native, non-Christian belief systems. Still, Achebe was drawn to the traditional beliefs and mythology of the Ibo.
In , he became a student in the first class at University College in Ibadan. Although intending to study medicine, he soon changed in favor of English coursework. Chinua Achebe One year after graduating with honors in , Achebe went to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Company. His radio career ended, however, in , when he left his position as Director of External Broadcasting in Nigeria during the political and religious unrest leading to the Biafran War, a civil war that lasted from to Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and became involved in fundraising and diplomatic endeavors, a role similar to that of Chris Osodi in Anthills of the Savannah.
Achebe is also a respected lecturer and teacher. From to , he was Professor of English at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and in he accepted a year-long position as Professor of African Studies at University of Connecticut at Storrs. Anthills of the Savannah: Introduction 2 Achebe began to exercise his writing ability while still working in radio, but it was not until he left broadcasting that he began to pursue writing seriously.
Achebe was one of the first to write in English about the contours and complexities of African culture. His first novel, Things Fall Apart, published in , remains his best-known. Upon its publication, Achebe earned a reputation as a writer with a uniquely African point of view who could write honestly about British colonialism in Nigeria.
He continues to combine his role as a storyteller with a sense of responsibility to write with purpose and to instruct his readers. The government has been in place for two years, since a coup overthrew the former dictator. Three men, friends since childhood, have assumed important positions in the new system. Sam is the president, Chris Oriko is the Commissioner of Information, and Ikem Osodi is the editor of the government-controlled newspaper, the National Gazette.
Ikem is an intellectual and a poet who is very outspoken about the need to reform the government. Chris acts as a mediator between Ikem and Sam. Sam has become a leader without regard for his people, seeking only to acquire more power for himself by any means necessary. Chris and Ikem realize that Sam is rapidly becoming a dictator. They helped get him appointed to the position, even encouraging him when he felt that his military background was inadequate preparation for a position of such importance.
Now, Chris and Ikem regret their previous support of their friend and seek to control Sam in their own ways. Sam in turn denies the region access to water despite a drought, expecting that without water or food the people will give in. When delegates from Abazon arrive at the capital on a mission for mercy, Sam suspects that they are actually planning an insurrection. In fact, his paranoia leads him to believe that the insurrection is being assisted by someone close to him.
Although Chris is aware of how dangerous Sam is becoming, he believes that by staying in his government position he can serve his country. Ikem has a girlfriend, Elewa, who is semi-literate and works in a shop.
She is pregnant with his child. She has known Ikem since youth and works for Sam, so she has connections to all of the major characters. She expresses to Chris and Ikem that they are approaching the problem incorrectly because they are not really connecting to the people and the land. Still, Ikem is fired and soon after addresses a student group at a university. Never one to hold his tongue, he is very vocal about his criticism of the government. Ikem is taken from his home in the middle of the night and shot and killed by the state police.
With the help of Emmanuel, a student leader who greatly admires Chris; Abdul, a sympathetic cab driver; and a small covert network of supporters, Chris is able to escape the capital city of Bassa by bus and head for Abazon.
On the bus trip, Chris begins to feel reconnected to his native land, and Emmanuel meets a beautiful student named Adamma. The bus is stopped by a mob caught up in a drunken frenzy. They are celebrating the news that Sam has been killed and his regime overthrown in another coup. As Chris and the other bus passengers make their way through the crowd, gathering bits of information, Chris sees Adamma being dragged off by a soldier to be raped.
Chris rushes to her rescue, and the soldier shoots and kills him. Adamma One of the passengers on the bus taken by Chris, Emmanuel, and Abdul as they leave Bassa and head north to safety, Adamma is about to be raped when Chris steps in to save her.
As a result, Chris is shot and killed, and Adamma returns to Kangan with Emmanuel. Beatrice is often impatient and short with Agatha, but as the novel progresses, she begins to feel more compassion for her. Unlike Chris, Ikem, and Beatrice, she is semiliterate and works in a shop. She is highly emotional and expressive.
Through Elewa, Beatrice comes to understand that coming from humble origins does not necessarily make a person frail or insecure. Emmanuel Obete Emmanuel is a student who is a leader at his university and a great admirer of Chris. When Chris flees for his life, Emmanuel accompanies him and helps make the complex plans involved in trying to get Chris out of danger.
He is also with Chris when he is killed and returns to tell Beatrice of his dignity even at the moment of death. Emmanuel stands in contrast to the typical students described by Ikem during his speech at the university, in which he referred to students and workers as the most derelict in their civic duties. She was born the fifth daughter to her parents one sister has died. Beatrice is characterized by sophistication, intelligence, and independence, but she is also attuned to the common people on an intuitive level.
Never having planned on a career in the government, she is very disturbed by accusations that she is ambitious. In reality, she desires what she has desired since childhood—to be left alone in her peaceful solitude and not attract any attention.
Achebe places her firmly in the mythic tradition of the people, making her a sort of manifestation of Idemili, a goddess sent to Man to oversee morality.
Although Beatrice is unaware of the myths regarding this goddess, she grows into a woman possessed with wisdom, self-knowledge, and compassion as she connects with the culture of her land. Although Chris sees Sam becoming mad with power, he is reluctant to give up his position in the Cabinet. Chris finally asserts himself when Sam orders him to fire Ikem, thus beginning a harrowing series of events. Anthills of the Savannah: Characters 5 Ikem Osodi Ikem is the outspoken and reform-minded editor of the state-owned National Gazette, a position that often puts him in conflict with his boyhood friend, Sam, who is the president of Kangan.
Ikem, on the other hand, believes strongly that the press should be free and independent of government regulation. Despite the fact that he is a London-educated intellectual, Ikem is very sensitive to the needs of the common people. His editorials are often harsh in their criticism of the new ruling regime, which makes Sam regard him as treacherous. Ikem states that the best weapon against ineffective or unjust governments is not facts, but passion.
Unlike Chris, Ikem is an extremist who is not interested in working gradually toward progress and so uses his powerful position as a journalist to call for change. Speaking to a group of students, Ikem discusses the role of the storyteller in depth, insisting that it is the role of the writer to ask questions and make challenges.
They give headaches! His fate already orchestrated, Ikem is taken in the night by government secret police and killed. Still, his presence continues to be felt among the people and his friends—a presence strengthened by the fact that he leaves behind a girlfriend close to giving birth to their child.
Among his methods of torture is using a simple stapler on the hands of those from whom he needs information. Sam Sam is the new president of the military regime in power following a coup, a position he holds due in no small part to the efforts of his schoolmates Chris and Ikem.
He is described as being very athletic and very charming, having adopted the ways of an English gentleman. His solution was to gather together his friends and give some of them government positions from which he could seek their advice. Once he overcame his fear, however, he began to relish his power, becoming extremely upset at even the mildest demonstrations against him.
In fact, he is starving a dissident province in hopes of forcing them to comply with his authority. He soon becomes consumed with paranoia, anger, and insecurity, and when his political ambitions are disappointed, he recalls being told how dangerous boyhood friends can be.
Anthills of the Savannah: Themes Anthills of the Savannah: Themes 6 Overcoming a History of Suffering The end of the novel offers a little hope but also shows that the political unrest of Kangan cannot be addressed by simple solutions.
The people want change and peace but are unsure how to attain a suitable system of government, especially when each successive regime is made up of members of the coup that overthrew the last regime.
It is a system driven by sheer might and strength as opposed to justice, philosophy, or respect for the land. The novel also portrays a strong and enduring sense of community among the people, despite the fact that they have no political rights.
Achebe suggests that this unity is what keeps the community and its heritage and culture intact even when it is ravaged by unjust political regimes. At the same time, he makes little effort to connect with the people of Kangan and relies heavily on his Cabinet while simultaneously belittling them.
In the end his obsession, paranoia, and insecurity get the better of him, and he goes so far as to have a childhood friend Ikem killed because he is perceived as a threat. Achebe shows the dangers of blindly pursuing power at the expense of the community.
Sam has no regard for the people he is supposed to be leading, and for that they suffer. Storytelling Throughout Anthills of the Savannah there are references to stories, narratives, and the storyteller. The elder from Abazon speaks at length about the important and lasting role of the storyteller. He argues that in his youth he would have said that the battle was most important, but now that he is older and wiser, he understands that the story is more powerful.
Through stories, a community can retain its sense of history and tradition and seek guidance for the future. Critics have observed that this is perhaps what Achebe is doing with this novel.
Anthills of the Savannah
He is a longtime friend of Ikem Osodi and His Excellency. During the course of the novel, he becomes more and more alarmed with the behavior of His Excellency. He is romantically involved with Beatrice, who helps him go in to hiding after Ikem is assassinated. He stands with the people of Abazon who have been ignored by His Excellency, and he is ultimately removed from his post and killed. Ikem serves as the moral center of the novel, offering long monologues on the purpose of government and the obligations citizens have to one another. She is a strong and outspoken feminist. He was good friends with Chris Oriko and Ikem Osodi during their schooling, and he rewards them with positions in his Cabinet.
Biography[ edit ] Chinua Achebe was born on 16 November The Achebe family had five other surviving children, named in a similar fusion of traditional words relating to their new religion: Frank Okwuofu, John Chukwuemeka Ifeanyichukwu, Zinobia Uzoma, Augustine Ndubisi, and Grace Nwanneka. Storytelling was a mainstay of the Igbo tradition and an integral part of the community. A controversy erupted at one such session, when apostates from the new church challenged the catechist about the tenets of Christianity.
Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe
Anthills of the Savannah Character List
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