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Impact Of The Christian Missionaries On The Igbo Society In Things Fall Apart

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Season of migration to the north by Tayeb Salih and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe considerably enhance readers’ knowledge on hybridity through describing cultural hybridity, exposing effects of colonialism on native cultures, and challenging Eurocentric stereotypes. Season of migration to the north provides a unique narration on the colonial experience in Africa. Written about Sudan by a Sudanese author, it provides remarkable insight into the world it seeks to describe. To provide this awareness, Salih uses the character of Mustafa Sa’eed, in co-existence with the narrator who is unnamed, to display how colonialism influenced the balance in Africa before European involvement and how he hopes that it will be restored. Season of Migration to the North recognizes the story of a man looking for an identity that he did not realize he had lost. Through his increasing awareness of Mustafa Sa’eed’s life, the narrator finally rectifies his personal identity crisis. Things Fall Apart is a post-colonial novel that showcases the impact of the Christian missionaries on the Igbo Society. Things Fall Apart also looks at the social and cultural life of an African tribe. The novel also showcases the daily life and culture of the tribe and the individuals that make up the tribe. This novel acts as a reminder of what used to be Nigeria once. It portrays the way a society can handle change and how change impacts the people that make up that society.

“At basic level, hybridity refers to any mixing of east and western culture. Within colonial and postcolonial literature, it most commonly refers to colonial subjects from Asia or Africa who have found a balance between eastern and western cultural attributes” (Singh 1). Hybridity is when an individual experiences more than one culture, it is known as mixing of east and western culture. In Tayeb Salih’s, Season of Migration to the North, the reader encounters the story of one of the main characters, Mustafa Sa’eed. Throughout Season of Migration to the North, the narrator attempts to discover the true identity of Sa’eed, but instead, finds himself as well. Cultural differences help mold an individual’s identity into one’s being, compared to what they actually become. “Given that, the novel Season of Migration to the North takes notice of the collision between two different worlds (West and East) based on the lives of two framed characters, the Narrator and Mustafa Sa’eed. They mirror each other in their life journeys to Europe and back” (Zohdi 1).

Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih is a novel about a man looking for an identity that he did not realize he had lost. From his understanding of Mustafa Sa’eed’s life, the narrator finally realizes and takes a hold of his own identity crisis’s. It is notable that throughout the novel, the main character who is also known as the narrator’s identity remains mysterious. His background, educational and family life is given to the background, but his name remains unknown in the whole novel. On the other side there is Mustafa Sa’eed who is “the intelligent colonized, loses his own identity in this way and finally disappears as the victim of this colonizing strategy’s consequence, merged- or lost-identity”(1).

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In the article “Lost-identity; A Result of “Hybridity” and “Ambivalence” in Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North “by Esmaeil Zohdi, Zohdi mentions that hybridity occurs when an individual is caught between two separate things, usually two different cultures, which end up leading the individual to a double vision or double consciousness which in result create a lost identity. This article also explores how people of a different country and culture have their own unique customs and cultures which sets them apart. However, when they leave their own country and go to another one, there is a sense of dual identity that is created. “living in the in-between spaces and between two different worlds brings the person a merged identity. And this is what Bhabha calls the “third space” and describes it full of ambivalence and contradictory. Bhabha says that “border lives” put the person in “the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion, [for] there is a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction in the ‘beyond’” In fact, anybody who lives in the in-between spaces, between two different cultures, lives a dual life which doubles his/her identity” (2). Even though the two protagonists in these novels have different attitudes towards the west and their own culture, “the structure of arrival in both novels is not straightforward and immediate, but instead reflects a negotiation between two attitudes and a transition from an immediate, physical arrival to an inner, mental arrival. This leads to a new understanding of and an adjustment to a fuller sense of arrival” (Masmoudi 2).

The narrator and Mustafa Sa’eed reflect each other to a great extent.. They both overlook the colonial culture and try to over throw the oriental point of view. They both are a product of the western culture who try to survive between the new and old traditionalism and modernity in the Arab world on the edge of the current social and cultural changes. Mustafa Sa’eed’s role in season of migration to the north is about the idea of belonging and an identity crisis. Sa’eed, just like the narrator, has experienced the north and south. Mustafa Sa’eed’s life is mirroring with the time period of British colonization. This shows the exploration of cultural history and colonial identity. Mustafa Sa’eed has a deep desire to belong to the western culture. Mustafa Sa’eed is conflicted between two worlds, when he was asked what race he is, he was conflicted in his response. He says talks about his face is Arab like the desert of the empty Quarter, while my head is African (Salih, p. 33). This shows the extent of Mustafa’s involvement with colonial discourse because it relates to ethnic and racial stereotypes. He is aware of the English attitude towards colonial subjects.

This novel study the inner conflict between consciousness and unconsciousness which is shown though the characters of the narrator and Saeed. They have almost identical cultural, social and education backgrounds. However, they develop different attitudes towards the west. Their differences come from “the consciousness and the drives of unconsciousness. While they consciously view the west as an enemy that needs to be battled and defeated, they unconsciously consider it as a friend or an ally whose knowledge, technologies and sciences should be borrowed and transferred. (Zohdi, 2)

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Impact Of The Christian Missionaries On The Igbo Society In Things Fall Apart. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from
“Impact Of The Christian Missionaries On The Igbo Society In Things Fall Apart.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
Impact Of The Christian Missionaries On The Igbo Society In Things Fall Apart. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2023].
Impact Of The Christian Missionaries On The Igbo Society In Things Fall Apart [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2023 Dec 4]. Available from:
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