Daily reading for foreign affairs afficionados with an emphasis on the culture and literature of Africa and poetry in general. Also, a repository of musings from life in the PGON (Pentagon) and as a post-grad student. Most of my book reviews are now over at www.kruzoo.blogspot.com
"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist." -Anne Applebaum
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Grad School Discussion Notes and Summary: Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah
DISCLAIMER: These are my notes that I created from reading the novel and from classroom discussion. Generally speaking, the chapter by chapter summaries are my own, however, the other parts of the posts are what I hope are an amelioration of the classroom discussion.
- The role of women; they are still representing
- Parallel to Achebe’s role as minister of info for Biafra
- Rural and urban.
From the 60’s to 80’s, the state has pulled back from trying to connect
to the urban areas.
central characters always die.
Their struggle is more important than their life—they inspire
- Failure of ruling class to connect to the majority (which
is the poor)—All there is is struggle—there’s no solution.
- This is the first novel where there aren’t any conflicts
between father and sons—no generational conflict like his other novels.
- In this novel, the rural comes to the city in contrast to
previous novels where it’s the opposite.
- Sam motivated by fear and translates this fear to his
treatment of his cabinet—effectively immobilizing them. And he seeks to mimic the elderly state
heads that he sees as the OAU.
- Irony that Achebe writes a novel about the disconnect
between the elite and the poor masses at such a level that it is not accessible
by those same masses because of the higher intellectual level at which it is
- Beatrice to Elewa to Agatha: bridges of connection
- Older Abazonian man’s speech is a throwback to Achebe’s
prior novels (and a breath of fresh air).
This man is wise but has no power.
The importance of being seen to have fought, but more important for
there to be a record of it.
Wallace Steven’s quote is applicable here: “The Solider is poor without
the poet’s lines.”
- Naming ceremony as a birth of nationalism, where everyone
is present (from all aspect of society) and bonding over a common cultural
heritage but torquing it to reflect a new reality. Showing that all the value systems can coexist—whereas peers
couldn’t. Abdul is present, supposed to be spying on them, but has instead
joined them. So you have all
slices of society present.
- All the books have an older character (the uncle here)
that acknowledges that the times are changing and everyone has to adapt.
- Is Luxurious a
character? What does the bus
- Fragility of military regime. When do they ‘cross the line?’ For Ikem, it’s when they arrest the elder. But it’s the students’ reaction to the
regicide article in the Gazette that really sparks the movement.
"Nations were fostered as much by structures as by laws
and revolutions. These structures where they exist now are the pride of their
nations. But everyone forgets that they were not erected by
democratically-elected Prime Ministers but very frequently by rather
unattractive, bloodthirsty medieval tyrants. The cathedrals of Europe, the Taj
Mahal of India, the pyramids of Egypt and the stone towers of Zimbabwe were all
raised on the backs of serfs, starving peasants and slaves. Our present rulers
in Africa are in every sense late-flowering medieval monarchs, even the
Marxists among them. Do you remember Mazruicalling Nkrumah a Stalinist Czar?
Perhaps our leaders have to be that way. Perhaps they may even need to be that