Themes in Anthills of the Savannah will be discussed in full. Also the analysis will be based on Anthills of the Savannah as a Political Satire.
Analysis of Anthills of the Savannah as a Political Satire.
Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah falls under the subject matter of political satire and commentary.
In the novel, Achebe comments on the problems slowing down the progress and development of the State of Kerran (i.e. a reference in innuendo to Nigeria) in particular, and the continent of Africa in general. Directly, Chinua Achebe describes and illustrates how our military and political leaders’ leadership style are the causes of these problems.
He also describes and illustrates how the citizens themselves are parts of the problems. As he examines these problems, Chinua Achebe’s analyses simply turn round into prophecies. The analyses are called prophecies because they are solutions that can solve the problems enumerated, if duly applied. Therefore, Anthills of the Savannah is also a novel of prophecies on steps to take to overcome problems of under-development and lack of progress in Nigeria, nay Africa.
In addition, 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.
Asides, the identification of 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 and it also depict political satire as it talks about the government of Nigerian.
Themes in Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe
The themes in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah are analysed below:
Theme of Military rule is not a proper government for a nation
“This theme is illustrated with how General Sam regards himself as the alpha and omega of the business of government of Kangan. In the end, he turns into a dictator, a terrorist, an economic saboteur, exploiter of his subjects and a complete failure. In other words, military rule is not a proper government for a nation because it breeds dictatorship, terrorism, economic sabotage and exploitation of the masses of people”.
Lack of respect for people by the leadership of a nation often breeds mistrust.
“This theme is illustrated with how General Sam regardlessly describes the people of Abazon as saboteurs during their visit to him, to help them find solution to the problem of drought facing them. Consequently, the people of Abazon became angry with General Sam for the neglect. Hence, they refuse to support General Sam’s ambition to become a life-president”.
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Theme of inefficient police system is preventing our society’s growth.
“This theme is illustrated with the case of the policeman who refused to act on a good Samaritan’s telephone report of his neighbour beating his wife in the night. If the policeman had been the efficient type, he should have investigated the situation, even if the case may not call for arrest, but a warning.
Theme of Treatment of certain citizens as “sacred cows” is promoting lawlessness in our society
“This theme is illustrated with how government usually overlooks treasury looters (i.e. pen robbers), while armed robbers are killed by firing squads. Here, Achebe is of the opinion that “if no criminal, either high or low, is spared of punishment, crime rate will drop”. In other words, crime rate, corruption and all sorts of lawlessness will continue, if such inequality continues.
Theme of our leader’s accommodation of foreign interference in their governance is promoting our society’s under development
“This theme is illustrated where Mr John Kent describes African political and military leader as corrupted imitators at Sandhurst or London School of Economics. Mr John Kent’s opinion is that “if our leaders do not in any case imitate foreign ideas, but face the real business of governance on the ground, our society’s growth will be quickened.
Theme of treatment ofpatriotic citizens as extremists is preventing our society’s growth
0This theme is illustrated with the way General Sam describes Miss Beatrice Okoh as a racist. For instance, at the dinner at Abichi Lake Guest House, Miss Beatrice Okoh had advised General Sam not to listen to American Journalist Lou Camford’s recommendation to him to be spending 51% of Kangan foreign income on debt servicing. But what does Beatrice get in return? She is accused of racism and chased out of Abichi Guest House, before the end of the dinner.
Theme of leader’s intolerance of call for change is preventing our society’s growth
“This theme is illustrated with General Sam’s threat to eliminate any of his Cabinet Ministers who resigns in protest against his bad governance. So, when Beatrice advised Mr Chris Oriko to resign from General Sam’s Government and settle the quarrel between him and Mr Ikem Osodi, Mr Oriko replied that he could not. He did not want General Sam to eliminate him, for resigning from his government as a Commissioner”.
Theme of lack of press freedom is preventing our society’s growth
“This theme is illustrated with how Mr Chris Oriko vows to issue query to Mr Ikem
Osodi the “National Gazette’s” Editor, if he refuses to submit his report on Abazon Delegation’s visit to General Sam for pre-publishing censorship”. This is a clear case of “gagging the freedom of the press to report events as should be done”.
Theme of Lawlessness among the citizens is preventing our society’s growth “
This theme is illustrated with how Mr Braimoh the taxi-driver willingly disobeys traffic rules in order to wrongfully overtake Mr Ikem Osodi, during the hold-up episode. Meanwhile, Mr Osodi does not allow him and Mr Braimoh falls back to his correct place on the queue. In the first instance, there is no need for Mr Braimoh to break traffic rules. The episode is used to make a point that “the culture of orderliness among citizens can make our society develop”
Acts of wasteful spending are preventing our society’s grovÄh “The theme is illustrated with how Miss Beatrice Okoh frowns at the issue of spenc,ng large sum of money to publicize obituaries in newspapers. She is of the opinion that if such monies are spent to take care of the citizens, progress will be achieved easily.
Theme of Fraudulent practices of the working class are preventing our society’s growth
“This theme is illustrated with how Mr Ikem Osodi describes the people in the working class as fraudsters during the lecture he delivers to Bassa University Student Union. He had used the workers of the Electricity Authority as examples. He accused them of the practice of over-billing and meters’ stealing in order to maintain their style of living above their normal income.
Theme of Lack of comradeship sense among our elites is eventing our society’s growth
” This theme is illustrated with how Mr Ikem Osodi is deliberately mis-reported by
his deputy who took over from him as Editor of “National Gazette” after his sack. The new Editor had sentimentally twisted Mr Ikem Osodi subifiission at the Bassa University Students Union’s lecture. Mr Ikem had said that serving Head of State who put his picture on his country’s currency was just in iting peoples revolt against him. But the new editor had reported that Ikem had vowed to murder General Sam. This led to Mr Ikem Osodi’s arrest and eventual murder .
Theme of our society can progress ifour leaders always ccept responsibilities for committed mistakes
“The theme is illustrated with the episode where Miss Beatrice Ckoh accuses Agatha (her house-maid) as a hypocrite for not loving her neighbour herself, due to her religious belief of shunning any work on the Sabbath day. VVnat did Agatha do? She had left Elewa who was carrying pregnancy to eat breac dipped in milkless tea, when she was supposed to have prepared a good food ior her. Agatha burst into tears, when she was rebuked. But a few minutes later when her mistress apologized to her, she stopped crying and smiled. And things continued normally”
Theme of our society can make progress if the various constituents organize to sit down to examine our problems and solve them
“The theme is illustrated with how Miss Beatrice Okoh, Mr Emmanuel Obete, Student-Nurse Adamma, Captain Medani, Elewa with Mr & Mrs Braimoh always gather inside Miss Beatrice Okoh’s flat to discuss on how the country of Kangan can be moved forward. Because they always come up with patent solutions, members of any society in Kangan’s shoes can always move such a society forward by sitting down together to identify their problems, solve them outright and thereby move forward”.
Theme of our society can become progressive if we tolerate one another irrespective of religious beliefs
” The theme is illustrated with Mrs Aina Braimoh’s opinion that there is nothing bad if the daughter of Allah shares joy with the daughter of Jehova. She had expressed the opinion during the singing of the praise-song raised by Agatha, while Baby Amaechina Ikem-Osodi’s naming ceremony was going on.
Theme of our society can become progressive if our senior citizens live emulative lives for younger generations
“This theme is illustrated with the claim of Mr Emmanuel Obete that Mr Ikem Osodi’s ideas and ways of life influenced him for good. In other words, if our leaders live for truth, justice, fair play and honesty, the citizens will equally value such virtues”.
Theme of our Society can become progressive if our women are adequately empowered
” The theme is illustrated with the protest of the women that Elewa should have equal right as her daughter’s father in the process of giving the daughter a name. In other words, if women are not relegated to the background in the process of nation building, we shall develop faster”.
Theme of our society can become progressive if our women’srightsare not abused
This theme is illustrated with Elewa’s Uncle’s advice that a wise man always listens to his wife’s opinion in a matter they both have joint interests. In other words, if women are always carried along in the process of nation building, progress will easily be achieved”.