What do you believe to be the single most important reason as to why the Europeans in ‘Things Fall Apart’ were able to undermine and destroy the traditional Ibo culture?

For me, I find that the biggest reason that European influence is able to grow into a pervasive force in Umuofia is because the Ibo tribal elders do not treat the arrival of Christian missionaries as the threat to their culture and values that the missionaries eventually become. The Ibo are initially uneasy at the Europeans’entrance into the region, but quickly become dismissive and disregard the potential of the new Religion to take roots in Umuofia and displace traditional norms. Achebe writes:

“At first the clan had assumed that it would not survive…. The clan was worried, but not over-much. If a gang of efulefu decided to live in the Evil Forest it was their own affair. When one came to think of it, the Evil Forest was a fit home for such undesirable people”.

High-ranking Ibo men do not view the missionaries as overt threats. Over time, however, the Christian missionaries recruit a number of Umuofian natives, specifically the members of the clan who have been disenfranchised by the Ibo’s stratified social structure. This swell in the missionaries’ numbers demonstrates to Ibo elders the strength of European influence in Umuofia:

“And even in the matter of religion there was a growing feeling that there might be something in it after all, something vaguely akin to method in the overwhelming madness”.

Indeed, the elders realize their mistake in taking Europeans lightly, and this oversight alters the culture of the region forever.

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