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Cosmologies of the sovereign in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Research in African Literatures
Issue number3
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)35-57
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date10/01/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah concentrates on the problem of political leadership in postcolonial Africa like none of his other post-independence novels—A Man of the People or No Longer at Ease. It narrates the abuse of power and the failure of political leadership in a way the others do not and has thus generated criticism along this axis. While some critics have explored the nature of brutality in the novel, others have seen it as essentially tragic from various perspectives. It has also generated concerns about Achebe’s reaction to political leadership in Africa. The formation of a postcolonial nation-state as presented in the novel has been seen as problematic for reasons ranging from the inability of citizens to integrate and forge a common course to the lack of belonging fostered by visionless, selfish leadership. Most of these concerns have been triggered by the question of leadership performance and the idea of the state as failed. This article, however, investigates the processes by which actors—state and non-state—make and remake the state. By so doing, it seeks to achieve three aims: to expand domains of power and oppression beyond state apparatuses, to investigate mechanisms of resistance and agency among the oppressed, and to unveil the relationship between play and power within, but not limited to, the political class. © 2018, Indiana University. All rights reserved.