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Analysis of the Settings of Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah pdf

Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe: In this blog post, we shall be discussing extensively on the Analysis of the settings of the Anthills of the Savannah.

Chinua Achebe’s Biography


Chinua Achebe is a Professor of English Studies. He is the pioneer writer of African novels. This is because Things Fall Apart the first novel which he published in 1958 was the first successful African novel. He was born in 1930 at Ogidi in the present day Anambra State of Nigeria. Chinua Achebe is best known and called “the master story teller” in the literary world. This is because he always writes and tells stories in his novels in simple language full of fitting proverbs and analogies. His first set of novels were mainly on characters, contacts between African and European cultures as well as questions of moral. This is why the titles of his first four novels are always turned into pun in this manner:

Anthills of the Savannah published in 1987 is Achebe’s first successful novel of political commentaries. The novel examines the various problems slowing down the progress and development of the African world. Also, prophetic solutions are suggested to overcome the problems of underdevelopment and retrogression. These solutions are called prophetic because some parts of Africa that have adopted them as put forward by Achebe in Anthills of the Savannah have begun to progress and advance.

"When the Arrow of God strikes A Man of the People, then Things Fall Apart and all is No Longer at Ease"

Critical Analysis of the Form, Physical, Social and Psychological Settings of Anthills of the Savannah.

Analysis of the form of Anthills of the Savanah


In form, the story told in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah is a political satire. The satire particularly mirrors the problems that are slowing down the progress and advancement of Nigeria as a country. Because Nigeria accounts for some 30% of Africa’s population, the problems raised in the novel are generally responsible for underdevelopment and retrogression peculiar to the African continent.

Beside identifying the causes of Africa’s underdevelopment, Chinua Achebe also suggested adequate solutions to change such misfortune of underdevelopment to the fortune of advancement. Because these solutions are perfect (as some parts of Africa that have adopted them have begun to progress and advance), Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah can be described as a prophetic novel in form.

Analysis of the Setting of Anthills of the Savanah by Chinua Achebe.

Physical settings of Anthills of the Savannah

The satire form of Anthills of the Savannah is clearly spelt out in its physical, social and psychological setting. Physically, the novel is set in the country called Kangan and its southern capital city called Bassa. Kangan and Bassa are innuendoes to Nigeria, when Lagos was its capital. These innuendoes can be illustrated with the Bar-Beach show episode in Chapter 4. In real life Nigeria, Lagos was the only Nigerian capital city where armed robbers were shot on the stake at the Bar Beach in Victoria Island. Therefore, the story in Anthills of the Savannah is physically set when Lagos was still the capital city of Nigeria.

Physically too, the government in power is a novel (i.e. new) military government. This is another innuendo to the coming to power of Major General Ironsi’s military government of 15th Jan. 1966-29thJuly 1966. That military government ruled Nigeria as a unitary country as General Sam rules Kangan single-handedly. However, Chinua Achebe synchronised some events of the 5th military era of General Babangida with the first era of Major General Aguiyi Ironsi. One of such synchronisms is the attribution of the fall of General Sam to the murder of Journalist Ikem Osodi. In real Nigerian life, no journalist was murdered during Ironsi’s era. Mr. Dele Giwa — the first editor-in-chief of “Newswatch Magazine” was murdered in 1986, during General Babangida’s era.

So, the story in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah is physically set in the background of Military rule in Nigeria. And it is so set by Achebe, to show that military’s seizure of power contributed to the underdevelopment which Nigeria is still battling with.

From the vegetation described for Kangan, Anthills of the Savannah is physically set to discuss events in Nigeria nay Africa. Like Kangan vegetation moves from coastal swamps, to forest belt, to savannah and grassland; so is the vegetation of Nigeria in real life. As droughts are experienced in the North of Kangan by the Abazon people; so do the Hausa/Fulani people of Northern Nigeria sometimes experience drought. As the town of Agbata is the mid-point between Southern and Northern Kangan on the Great North Road, either Jebba or Lokoja in real Nigeria can be described as such mid-point.

Social settings of Anthills of the Savannah

Socially, Kangan (i.e. Nigeria) is already a well organized society according to the test of Anthills of the Savannah. There is the press-championed by Mr Chris Oriko and Mr Ikem Osodi. You have the Students Unions led by Mr Emmanuel Obete. There are Trade Unions like the Taxi Drivers Union led by Mr Braimoh. There are market women. You have concerned civil servants like Miss Beatrice Okoh. You have communal pressure groups like Abazon People Development Union. You have broadminded citizens like Mrs Aina Braimoh who does not see why all citizens of Kangan should not tolerate themselves religiously.

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Of course the people of Kangan know their rights. Equally, they already know that they have to cry out when such rights are violated. Again, every Kangan citizen is quite much aware of the need to monitor government’s actions that can adversely affect them. This social setting element is illustrated by the following episodes in Anthills of the Savannah. One is the visit of Abazon Delegation to General Sam to complain of the drought they are suffering. Another set of illustrating episodes include how Mr. Ikem Osodi — the “National Gazette’s” editor, usually writes editorial comments to show that government should be carrying out actions that can help the people. More instances include how Mr. Chris Oriko as Commissioner for Information always persuades General Sam at Cabinet Meetings not to ignore the suffering of the masses Of people. Another is the frequent organisation of symposiums by Basssa University Students Union to examine how the government of General Sam is looking after the welfare of the people. Again, you have how concerned senior civil servants like Miss Beatrice Okoh has to advise General Sam at his Abichi Lake Guest-House to be cautious of America’s interference in his government. Specifically, Miss Okoh wants General Sam to ignore the suggestions of Journalist Lou Camford to him, to be spending 51% of Kangan’s foreign income on foreign debt servicing.

Furthermore, we can illustrate howthétitizens of Kangan are aware Of their rights with how the people living in the Government Reservation Area (G.R.A.) could hide away Mr. Chris Oriko from security men that declared him a wantedman fora false coup-plot. One more interesting illustration is the way Mr. Chris Oriko laid down his life to be shot dead, in order to save Student Nurse Adamma from brutal-rape, by a madly drunken policeman.

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Psychological settings of Anthills of the Savannah

Psychologically, Anthills of the Savannah is set in the background of certain moral behaviour expected from rulers of people, as well as the people being ruled. In this regard, Achebe is of the point of view that:
The ruler of a society must not be dictatorial.

"This is why the people of Kangan are not happy with the government of General Sam."

The ruler of a society must not discriminate against any part of his domain as General Sam did when he turned down Abazon people’s request to solve the problem of drought they are suffering.

"This is why the people of Abazon refused to support General Sam's ambition to become a life-president."

The ruler of a society is not expected to be a liar and lip-service payer, in the way General Sam and his lieutenants are stealing public fund, while the people he rules are left to suffer.

"This is why General Sam does not have any sympathy from the people when Major General Ahmed Lango toppled his government."

The ruler of a society must preserve the sovereignty of his country from external interference.

"This is why Miss Beatrice Okoh points out to General Sam that it is wrong of him to listen to American Journalist Lou Camford who is advising him to be spending 51% of Kangan foreign income on debt servicing." 

The ruler of a country must not be terroristic and murderous like the manner in which Mr. Ikem Osodi was murdered by General Sam’s security agents.

"This is why the people of Bassa rioted against the mysterious death of Mr. Ikem Osodi and similarly hid away Mr. Chris Oriko when General Sam's security agents declared him a wanted-man for a fake coup-plot."

The people of a society must be tolerant of one another in spite of their differences of religion, tribe or class.

"This is why Mrs Aina Braimoh says that it makes no difference, if a daughter of Allah shares joy with the daughter of Jehova."

The people of a society must be appreciative of benefits derived from one another.

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"This is why Mr. Braimoh leads a delegation of the Taxi-Drivers' Union to thank Mr. Ikem Osodi for his editorial comment which forces the government to clear off the refuse dump at their Taxi-Park and renovate it." "Also, this is why Mr. Braimoh stands by Mr. Chris Oriko when he begins to fight the government of General Sam for killing Mr. Ikem Osodi by releasing his taxi-cab, and hiding away Mr. Oriko in his one-room apartment in the slum of Bassa."

The important personalities of the society must not fold their arms, while the commoners are cheated.

"This is why Mr. Chris Oriko decides to stop that madly drunken police sergeant from raping Student Nurse Adamma before the policeman shoots and kills Mr. Oriko instead, along the Great North Road."

Davidposh of Campusvibes

I'm a dedicated and progressive individual with an exceptional work ethic and client oriented service aptitude. I write to inform and educate. Currently I'm an English language students Lagos State University.

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