Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a True Classic

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was the book that sparked our desire to reclaim my time! We do this by -only- mostly reading stories written by Black and African authors.

In re-reading Things Fall Apart as an adult, I see things a bit differently— at least in my conclusions about Okonkwo. Okonkwo is at best a tragic hero; and at worst, an abomination in Igbo culture.

In the end, I am so hurt by how things end for Okonkwo and Umuofia, that I am filled with rage. I will read this book once a year to get a reminder—rooted in history— of why reclaiming my time is crucial.

Chinua Achebe’s writing is both purposeful and powerful. The pre-colonial setting provides a glimpse into what life might have been like before the British colonialists descended in Nigeria under the guise of Christianity.

Obierika, Okonkwo’s best friend and a voice of reason throughout the novel, poses the following questions to Okonkwo in Chapter 20.

“Does the white man understand our custom about land?”

“How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad.”

“How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us?”

Obierika then draws a poignant conclusion.

“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

This book has and will continue to stand the test of time. It is a masterpiece that speaks volumes about the grotesque impact of colonialism in Nigeria. The story also shines a light on the consequences of embracing change over tradition, or becoming a relic, over adapting to a new way of life.

Things Fall Apart is the first book in the African Trilogy that includes No Longer at Ease, and Arrow of God.

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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

In Born A Crime, Trevor Noah, host of the popular late night program, The Daily Show, compiles stories from his childhood in South Africa.

Trevor was born in 1984 to a Black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss-German father; a union that was considered illegal under apartheid. 


Trevor writes about the system of oppression in South Africa and how the structure was carefully studied and carried out. Examples of how to oppress people were deliberately taken from other countries, including the U.S.

By the time South Africa became a democracy, racism and white supremacy were already deeply institutionalized. Even after Nelson Mandela was elected president and the African National Congress came into power, Black people still lacked opportunities and adequate resources to lift their families out of the circumstances that apartheid manufactured. Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, and books by other South African writers, journalists, and scholars provide a rich account of apartheid and the legacy of the racist regime.


Born a crime is not a linear story. The book is a set of vignettes about Trevor’s life. Many stories will make you laugh out loud, and others will leave you gasping. These stories highlight important themes from the impact of colonialism in South Africa to the privileges that come with being presumed to be white. Born a crime also explores Christianity, language, gender, and violence.

One of my favorite stories in the book centers on Trevor and his friend “Hitler” (yes, I know. Trevor’s point exactly), a star dancer in Trevor’s crew. In this scene, Hitler is dancing at a Jewish gathering where Trevor is DJing and cheering “Go Hitler! Go Hitler! Go Hitler!” They eventually get kicked out.

Trevor shares this story to describe the impact of colonialism on name preferences in South Africa. During apartheid, Black South Africans were forced to give their children names “that white people could pronounce.” As a result, many Black South Africans named their children Hitler because they were missing the context of historical events.

Trevor notes that the South African education system inadequately teaches students about history. In many instances, the experiences of oppressed groups are glaringly missing as if history is a one-sided phenomenon. Although names are often selected from the Bible, according to Trevor, the parents that named their children Hitler were probably unaware that apartheid was modeled after Hitler’s racist policies. Trevor’s accounts are like the history textbooks in the U.S. that misrepresent slavery or leave it out completely.


Trevor Noah is a brilliant storyteller. In Born A Crime, he weaves serious discussions of social inequities in South Africa to hilarious anecdotes about his upbringing, childhood mischief, and experiences with his friends and family.

Born A Crime was very much about Trevor as it was about his mom, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, a woman who resolved to ensure that Trevor experienced life on his own terms.

The book was a quick read. I tried to read it slowly, so I had something to look forward to but ended up finishing it in one weekend. The book will be adapted to a movie and Lupita Nyong’o will play Trevor’s mother

I’m looking forward to watching these stories play out in the film. 

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