Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Sally McWilliams

Committee Member

Daniel Mengara

Committee Member

Emily Isaacs


In Anthills of the Savannah Chinua Achebe presents the struggle of a formerly colonized African nation, Kangan, a substitute for Nigeria, to become a post-colonial nation. Achebe’s three main characters, members of the elite, who are personally and politically involved with the nation’s ruler, narrate their version of events. Their separate but intertwined journeys from the center of power to the margins where the majority of the country’s population resides illuminate the elements necessary for an inclusive postcolonial nation to rise from the neocolonial ruins of a traditional society.

Achebe uses narrative strategies that illuminate the collapse of the neocolonial state and the rise of a post-colonial society that is rooted in the traditional values of the country. His characters use the colonizer’s language changed in its daily use by the people to a new creole English. Achebe sets the groundwork for a new nation with characters who have benefited from the boons of a neocolonial society but are still motivated to develop a “new narrative of the nation” (Hall 613).

The nation's new narrative is grounded in the myths, fables and rituals that are central to its identity as an imagined community as described in Stuart Hall’s The Question of Cultural Identity. Quoting Benedict Anderson, Hall states that “national identity is an imagined community’” (613) constructed of five elements: (1 )“the narrative of the nation”;(2) “emphasis on origins, continuity, (3)tradition and timelessness”;(4) “invention of tradition”; (3) “a foundational myth...[a]story which locates the origin of the nation” and a “pure, original people or ‘folk.'" (613-615)

Achebe employs myths and fables to underscore the philosophical differences between the colonial/neocolonial concepts of power and its use with that of the Kangan/Nigerian traditional culture and traditional people. Women who figure so prominently in the foundational myth of the country, Idemili, (Anthills 93) which is detailed in a central chapter in the novel, will, in the end, be the ones responsible for leading the transformation of Kangan. Beatrice, the Honors English graduate, will be the creator of the new narrative as she is the writer who survives in the end. She, as well as all major representatives of the society; the peasants, students, soldiers, marketwomen, and domestic servants will be instrumental in the creation of new traditions within an egalitarian society. This new nation will incorporate and respect the precolonial past without discarding any benefits from the colonial era in forging a post-colonial nation cleared of white supremacy values.

The struggle to accomplish this rebirth is not over by the end of the novel. However, Achebe uses another major fable of the country, “The Leopard and the Tortoise"( 117) to illustrate both the role of the writer and the importance of controlling and shaping the narrative for future struggles.

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