I first read this book as a summer reading assignment in high school before starting my sophomore year. It was again assigned as I began my senior year. The enduring message of the book has always stuck with me.
In Part One, the reader is introduced to a proud man in a traditional African tribe. We learn about their history, culture, and customs. In particular, we’re introduced to their religion and how it shapes their communal life.
Part Two finds the main character in exile and an ominous development. European colonialists begin to move into the region. They start by spreading their religion, attached to a simple government.
Part Three has the main character returning to a village that he no longer recognizes. The Colonists have by this time imposed their rule on all of the tribes in the region. Their evangelization, coupled with heavy handed administration, has broken the back of the Tribe. No longer functioning as a single unit, family is turned against family.
What I most treasure about this book, although it is fiction, is how it presents a new point of view on colonialism. We see through the eyes of the conquered, how a once functioning society literally falls apart. Colonialism is still alive and well in the modern era. Perhaps more pernicious, is its evil twin, intellectual colonialism. A belief on the part of one group that their morals and values are inherently superior to another’s.
Would I recommend: YES