Unpacking the Universal: African Human Rights Philosophy in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

African Legal Theory and Contemporary Problems, Oche Onazi, ed., Springer, p.199, 2014

Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 34/2013

19 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2013 Last revised: 16 Feb 2015

See all articles by Basil E. Ugochukwu

Basil E. Ugochukwu

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)

Date Written: January 25, 2013

Abstract

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart appears to attract significant criticism for its seemingly negative offerings to human rights than for contributions to that cause that could be considered positive. My goal in this chapter is to reconstruct this image of that popular novel using the law and literature framework. I will do so at two levels. As an initial concern, I will demonstrate that Things Fall Apart offered positively to the human rights discourse contrary to persisting criticisms. Secondly, my analyses will add to the debate regarding the existence or otherwise of human rights values in Africa’s pre-colonial cultures. Despite having what could be regarded as neo-patriarchal characteristics (in spite of its “transformative power”), I will argue that the Things Fall Apart narrative is indeed a valid and credible refutation of the view that human rights is not an African value. And while it is possible to present a human rights content analysis of the book through several themes, I will place special emphasis on its treatment of the right to life, the rights of women and the right to fair hearing and a fair administration of justice.

Keywords: human rights, Things Fall Apart, law and literature, culture, African values

Suggested Citation

Ugochukwu, Basil Emeka, Unpacking the Universal: African Human Rights Philosophy in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart (January 25, 2013). African Legal Theory and Contemporary Problems, Oche Onazi, ed., Springer, p.199, 2014, Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 34/2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2206873

Basil Emeka Ugochukwu (Contact Author)

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) ( email )

57 Erb Street West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6C2
Canada

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