Lecturer, Department of English and Modern Languages, North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Kenyan novelist and postcolonial theorist Ngũgĩ wa Thiongchr('39')o’s famous work Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature is a collection of four essays. “The Quest for Relevance” is the fourth essay in this book that deals with where African languages and cultures have their places in academic education, and the necessity of using African language to uphold the African experience. Thiong’o urges that African experience should be at the centre of the study of literature in the educational institutions, and to do so, using languages originated in Africa in the academic study of literature is absolutely necessary. Now, the approach made by Thiong’o to portray and uphold African experience in literature is clearly different from the approach made by one of the most influential African authors of all time, Chinua Achebe. In his first three novels, Achebe depicts and upholds African experience, but his approach is clearly different from the approach made by Thiong’o. Achebe successfully uses the colonizers’ language English to reveal the colonial atrocities and to glorify the image of Africa. In this paper, I will evaluate Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God and Things Fall Apart in light of Ngugi’s essay “The Quest for Relevance” to demonstrate how Achebe uses English to uphold the true image of Africa in his novels.