About the Author
Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.
Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship to study medicine, but changed his studies to English literature at University College (now the University of Ibadan). He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student.
After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for his novel Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe wrote his novels in English and defended the use of English, a "language of colonisers", in African literature. In 1975, his lecture "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness" featured a criticism of Joseph Conradas "a thoroughgoing racist"; it was later published in The Massachusetts Review amid some controversy.
Synopsis of the Novel
fourth novel, “A Man of The People”, is a book of political, social, economic and moral contrasts. Written in first person, the books invites readers to experience the flow of emotions, fears, tensions, suspense and the pain that Odili, the main character in the book, undergoes.
A man of the people is a novel reflect most of African Countries after independence where by Most of the leaders show Moral decay to their citizens.
Through the central character (Chief Nanga) Leaders are reflected as corrupt people. As we see through the Novel Chief Nanga posses luxurious cars and owns Mansions. Chief Nanga as minister for culture he misuses the public funds for his benefits
This shows dishonest of some leaders and how they secure a position in the government.
Not only leaders but also the author wants to show how citizens are blinded by their leaders pretending that they are good to them while they are not. The narrator tells us that the Anata grammar school hall was full of the villagers waiting for the Honorouble Minister chief Mirah A. Nanga to address This is an obstacle to the few people like Odili who have come to realize that chief Nanga is not a good leader a he stands for the bad decision made by the PM believing that only by doing so he will secure his position in the government.
Also author shows us that in African countries privileged people continue to exploit unprivileged people. This is through Josiah who possess a shop and a bar exploit his customer by selling his commodities at a higher price. A gain he steal Anzages stock for the purpose of getting richer.
Together with the central theme, the author shows minor themes like ignorance. Conflicts, poverty, protect, Betrayal, Nepolism, immorality, Irresponsibility. Cultural imperidom sacrifice etc.
Here the author wants to make us aware that we need to fight against corruption as it is the obstacle of development to the society.
The title A man of the peoples is a satarical/ironical title as Chinua Achebe wants to tell us that a man they consider as a man of the people is not because of some of the features we observe from him (Chief Nanga) e.g. Being womeniza helping Edina for the self interest, using public funds for personal benefits, being nepotist. Etc.
A man of the peoples an immaginary novel (fictional novel) as Chinua Achebe uses immaginary towns like Bori and villages like Urua and Anata. Though students do belive that the setting of novel is Nigeria, appart from the pidgin used in the novel we don’t have any other due that support us when making such a generalization. It is obvious that all other works of C. Achebe set in Nigeria but this is different in the novel “A man of the people” where he uses immaginary setting so as to be in a safe side regarding issues he rises in his novel as they direct tovel the government.
This refers to the arrangement of events in the novel Chinua Achebe uses chronological plot as he starts at the beginning to the end. The novel has thirteen chapters – in chapter one the narrator introducethe honorable Minister Chief Nanga and his visit to Anata Grammar school. In chapter two chief Nanga invite Odili to visit Born. In Chapter three Odili visit his home village urua before making a long journey to the capital. Odili describes Ezekiahs family and in this chapter we see Odilin Chief Nanga’s empire. Odili Explains that living with Chief Nanga makes him and know manythings which many people do not know. Odili is supprised because chief Nangas house as seven bathrooms each with WC.
Chapter five, Odili and Nanga are invited by Jean and John to a part on Saturday. We see Odili and Jean exchange ideas. Chapter six Odili explains the relationship between him and Elsie and the book Exhibition.
In chapter seven, Chief Nanga as a politician, the visit of the editor Julio, also the love affair between Nanga and Elsie, Odili become fusions with Elsie behaviour Odili leaves Chief Nangas home and go to his friend Maxwell. Chapter eight At Maxwell’s home Odili recalls the previous wents about betral of Elsie. Odili and Maxwell discuss about their new political party CPC(Common People Conversion).
In Chapter nine, is about the discussion of Josiah as an exploitation, we are also told about the blind begger (Azoge) defined as a thief in the name of trade. Odili meets Edna on their way to the hospital to see Edna’s mother they get a bicycle accident. Chapter ten Christians at Anata village Odili convices Edina not to be the second wife of Nanga. Odili tells many student who come have come back to anata spend christimas, they are found of western culture. Odili announces to contest against chief Nanga hence he is hated by everyday. Chapter eleven, Odili receives a letter from Edina, Odili enters the danger game of politics, Chief Nanga tries tto bribe Odili he offers Odili a scholarship so that Odili can leave the bad game of politics, Odili denid the offer .
Chapter twelve. Odili’s father welcome CPC members in his hence, Maxwell receives corruption from chief Koko. Odili’s father condemns Odili for rejecting the offers campaign starts.
Chapter thirteen, Odili attends the Nanga’s campaign meeting chief Nanga beats Odili and Odili is taken to the hospital. We are informed the death of Maxwell Edna visits Odili in the hospital, Eunice shoots chief Koko, the Army takes over the government. Edna marries Odili.
Though the plot is chnological this does not hinder C. Achebe to use flashback as we see in chapter one Odili takes us away back in 1948 where he tells us that chief Nanga was his teacher in standard 3 and how he become a minister in 1960 after supporting the firing of Dr Makete and other ministers.
Also we see the flashback in Pg. 28-29 Odili tells us how he was chased away by his friend’s father just because of the hatrage that Ezekiah samalu had to the people. It is in this pg. That we get to know who is Ezekiah samalu.
Style of the Novel.
This novel “A man of the people” is well developed in style as we read the novel we find that in narrating the story the authory uses all persons but 1st person singular is dominant. The author use Odili to narrate the story of Chief Nanga. In chapter one we see how Odili starts to narrate the story using the first person point of view “................................. I have to admit this .................... I was teaching at the time ..................... I took one look......................... I couldn’t remember when I last ........... Pg 1
Also the author use another genne in a none for instance the author uses poems in the novel
“it is the time to spread the news abroad
That we are well prepared
To tie ourselves with silvery chord ...............................” Pg 22
He also uses songs (i) Pg 122 & Pg 80
“Hip, hip – hip -,
For they and jolly good fellows
For they and jolly good fellows .............”
Again me see the use of letters in Pg 10 and Pg 133
Likewise the author use stroy telling in chapter one Odili takes us way back in 1948 and tells us the story of Nanga. Also in the same chapter when he was chased away by his friend’s father. Also in Pg. 96 the gives the story of the group of dancers. Also in Pg 106
Generally the Language in “A man of the people” is understood but it is a bit difficulty to say whether the Lg is complex or simple, such kind of generalization can base on an individual reader.
The author use pidgin in some incidences intentionally so as to make cleara distinction between characters basing on education Chinua Achebe use pidgin to distinguish two classes in the society ie the schooled and unschool people where by educated people use the standard Language while the uneducated people. Use nonstandard Language (Pidgin). Eg. –“Why I go kill my master?....................... I de eraze why I no go go jump for insider lagoon instead to kill my master?” “Pg said tge cook in pg 34. Another pidgin in Pg 14 and 15 after the ministers speech. Also in pg 31 by gate keeper.
He also use American diatect. Eg............. But at the same time we have gotten somewhere” In British English we don’t have such past participle. This is in Pg 44 where Odili was making conversation with John the husband of Jean, these are the a parties who are advising their government on how to improve public image in America.
Together with this we have different figure of speech that accompany Language Use in the novel
- District officer was like the supreme deity” and the interpreter the principal minor god who carried prayers and sacrificed to him says Odili Pg. 28
- His huge body was quivering like jelly
- Chief Koko’s cook quivered as he was brought by the cowboy to answer to why he put poison to bis boss’s coffee. Pg. 34
> “.......... the towel as lager as a alapa” Pg 37
> “................. looking as fresh as a newly –hatched chick..........” Pg. 43
> “He turned on are then like an incised leopard” Pg 73 said Odili
> “You are eating all the hills like yam” Pg 93
- “Do the right and shame the Devil” Pg 11. Means that one should be honest to others and od things according to ten commandments.
- “Kick the bucket” – to die “I nearly kicked the bucket, Pg 25 this shows the way Odili and Elsie was very close.
- Pooring a little water into a dried up well” said by Odili when she remembered her died mother hence he says giving thing to his father is nothing as he used to have more than that Pg. 27
- “When one slave sees another cost into a shallow grave he should know that when the time comes he will go the same way Pg 35-36 quesed Odili that the fear of Chief Nanga is not the safet of chief Koko rather himself
- “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” said Elsie in Pg 61. She comes to say this after Nanga says that being a Ministers is like to welcome problems.
- “Man no fit fight tiger with empty hand” Said Boniface Pg. 113 –Means one should be full equiped when fighting for 5th
- “He that knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool” Pg 117
- You have lost the sky and the ground Pg 120 samalu tells Odili.
- A man of worth never gets up to unsay what he said yesterday Pg. 135 samalu tells Odili.
- Azoge the blind begger- stands for the people in the society who are blind hence can not see the evils done by their leaders like corruption, misure of government resources etc
These people are poor hence are exploited cheated easily
- Azoge stick – This symbolize the remaining wealth for the poor people. That means it is the only resource that poor and blind people are left with. Because of the blindness these people do not make effective use of it hence the preveleged ones want it so as to increase their wealth.
- Cadillac in the novel stands for wealth
- Gun is a symbol of power.
- Love making in the represent trouble instead of pleasure
- The journey to the hospital on bicycle stands for struggle.
- The refusal of the villagers to buy commodities to Josiah’s investment is a symbol of unity.
The title of the book
- “Teaching is a very noble profession” in Pg. 9 by Chief Nanga is an ironic expression as he means the opposite
- “I can swear to God that I am not as happy as when I was a teacher” The opposite is true. Pg 9.
- “If someone wants to make you a minister run away” The opposite of this is true Pg 36
“A voice was heard in Ramah
Weeping and great limitation
Rachel weeping for her children
And she will not be comforted, because they are not Pg. 81 (Merthew 2:18)
- Chief Nanga tells Odili that he can bring him six girls and Odili will have sex with them fill he gets tired Pg. 72
“If you like I am bring you six girls this evening”
- Chief Nanga says Julio has composed a song instead of a book
“I know Mr. Julio himself his composed a brillant song called ....... erm ........... what is it called again?” Pg 63
Chief Nanga prones that he does not know the meaning of book exhibition
“Book exhibition? Asked Elsie How they de make that one again? My sister, make you de ask them for me- O Pg 61
Chief koko realizes that the coffee was not poisonous Chief Nanga starts tearing him.
“But S.I you to fear death ......................” Pg. 35
1. Chief Nanga
- He was a teacher later a minister for culture
- He is corrupt, he receives bribes from different British companies
- He tries to bride Odili, he uses his possition to influence things
- He represents African leaders who are immoral ie. Adulterer Womalizer and sexmaniac
- He uses his money and position to oppress and humiliates women e.g Edina
- He lives a luxury life.
- He is a standard six graduate, he does not fit to be a minister
- He is unfaithful husband as he is having sexual relationship with different women
2. Odili Samalu
- He is the narrator of the story
- An educated
- He represent African intellectuals after independence
- He is enxious to educate the mass about the evils of the leaders but people are not ready
- He hates corruption
- He is a teacher at Anata Grammar school
- He joins politics because he want to revange chief Nanga.
- He has honest love for Edna
- He has weakness towards women (sexist)
- Politically, he represent people have progressive mind and desire for change.
3. Maxwell Kulamo:
- He is lawyer and a poet
- He is one of the founder of CPC
- He was killed by chief Koko
- He wants to contest chief Koko’s position Chief Koko bribes him but Maxwell does not withdraw from contesting chief Koko’s position but later on he ends up being killed.
- He also represents progressive intellecturals in independent african states
- He meets the qualifications of being “A man of hte people”
- After the coup detat the new government declare him a hero.
4. Ezekiah Samalu
- He is Odili’s father
- He is a polygamist, he has five wives and thirty five children
- A district interpreter during colonial period
- Local chairman of P.O.P
- He invites Odili's friends from the opposition part O.P.O in his house and allows them to start compaigning.
- He is corrupt, he blames Odili for rejecting chief Nangas bribe.Edna Oda
5. Edna Odo
- An educated (chief Nanga sponsored her believing that he will marry her) Edna lamented but she didn’t succed
- Come from poor family
- She represents girls who loose their freedom and surrender themselves to men because of poverty
- She is sympathy as she went to see Odili to the hospital after being beaten by chief Nanga’s thugs.
- She married to Odili after being realized that chief Nanga is not her right choice
- She is a lawyer
- She is Maxwell’s fiancee
- She is a member of C.P.C
- She shoots Chief Koko as a vegence
- She has true love
- She was prisoned after killing chief Koko and she was released after the revolution
- She represents, women who can fight against evils without considering their sofety
- An educated (a trained nurse)
- She is immoral
- She betrays her feanc’ee Ralph by making love with Odili and chief Nanga
- She is Odilis girlfriend
- She caused conflict between Odili and chief Nanga
8. Mrs Nanga:
- She is standard six leaver
- She was intelligent but she was forced into marriage (ie by Chief Nanga)
- She is a traditionalist, she struggled to maintain her tradition value
- She represents women who are humiliated and oppressed in the society who are considered as house keepers
- He is a begger
- He is having visual imparment (blind)
- He represents poor people who are harrassed by the previledge one
Other characters include:-
Mr. Mwege Dr. Makinde, Josiah, Boniface, Jean, John, Mr. Julio, the PM, Odo, Agness etc.
Through the novel we see how leaders are corrupt and how they use their little to get what they want, a good example is chief Nanga who use his position to blind the mass so that they can not see his evils. Chief Nanga uses his money to sponsor Edna for the purpose of winning her he tries to bribe Odili so that he can not contenst against him, also Chief Nanga receives bribes from British companies. Also we see the same Chief Nanga bribes the journalist so that he can keep on writing things which are not true or an not be done.
Not only that, but also chief Koko bribes max as the way of weakening the CPC power. Boniface tells Odili that they have bribed the police officer and court clerk to cancel their case
Generally chief Nanga has succeded in this because the majority are ignorant and blind and their silence have paved the way to this succession
“It is impossible to any society to proposer under corrupt leadership.”
People of Anata are ignorant as they have failed to realize how corruption affect them and the nation at large. Though they encounter problem in their daily life still they don’t take action against it. We are told that even if some one tries to educate them they are conservation
Ezekiah Samalu who is a local leader of P.O.P is not away of what is going on in the party
Edina’s father failure to realize the trick played by Chief Nanga.
Also we see ignorance among the leaders and professionals like Elsie who do not know the meaning of book exhibition
Azoge the blind begger failure to realize the trick played by Josiah proves that people are not even aware with the simple trick played by privileged people.
“People need to be aware and take action once they realize something bad”
“Ignorance lead to blindness”
This is the state of being unable to get basic needs. A good example of this is Azoge the blind bigger who earn his living by begging. Edna’s family who are very poor chence Edna sacrifice his body to chief Nanga so that she can get education as her parents have failed to educate her. (to take her to school) Edna’s father want his daughter to be married by chief Nanga so that she could get wealthy
Also when Edna and Odili was on the way to the hospital they get an accident and the food was poured down, Edna cried claming that her mother to buy another food.
All these shows the sign of poverty
Chief Nanga’s brother says he is poor innocent. Victim P.I.V he is just enjoying his brother’s bevelage
Likewise Odili’s life as a house boy in Gillgili all these are the indicator of poverty
“Poverty is an obstack towards development
4. Self awarenes
In the Novel Achebe shows different evils done by African leaders. Achebe’s intention is to rise awareness to the mass so that they can take action against evils in the novel we see the villagers refuse to buy goods from Josiah as they have realize that Josiah is exploiting them. Not only that but also we see Odili who has realize that chief Nanga is not a good leader as he is a corrupt leader he wants to rise awareness to other.
Not Odili perse also the formation of CPC is a sign of awareness as the main objective of CPC is to fight against corruption .
“People need to the aware with what is taking place in the society”
The situation of some one who is having authority to asist those he/she knows especially those they share tribe.
A good example of this is the expression we get from the novel that, “No matter what you know but who you know.
All the favour tht chief Nanga provide to Odili is becaused he knows him
Also the old man at Urua (after max’s speech) he says it is the time of Urua people to eat because those of Anata have eaten already
“We need to discourage nepotism as it leads to uneven distribution of services”
6. Moral decay
- Being a corrupt leader proves the immorality of African leaders
- Elsie is also immoral as we do not expect an African lady to be like that (sexist)
- Chief Nanga shows immorality because as a leader who is a modal in the society we do not expect to see him the way he is ie Womenizer of the society
- “Leaders and adults should be front line to maintain moral of the society”
That means going against certain agreement
- In the movel we see Chief Nanga betrays his wife after having relationship with other women.
- Also the same Chief Nanga betrays his people as he lives luxirious life while his people are suffering.
- Elsie betrays her ex-boyfriend Ralph after having relationship with Odili and Nanga
- Agnes betrays her husband after having sex with Nanga
The situation of being against something in the novel we see the villagers are against Osiah’s behaviour of exploiting them.
- Odili is against his father’s behaviour of marring many wives hence many children. Who can not be able to take care of them.
- Odili is protesting Chief Nanga’s bad behaviour hence he decides to go and live with his friend Maxwell.
“People should protest against bad things”
VIDEO - A Man of the People