Anthills of the Savannah – Chinua Achebe | Book Review

 

Set in the fictitious state of Kangan, Anthills of the Savannah explores and condemns political corruption in post-colonial Africa.

Sam, Chris, and Ikem, three former friends and classmates, are the story’s central characters. After a military coup that alters the country’s course, they unexpectedly find themselves in the positions of President, Commissioner of Information, and Editor-in-Chief of the country’s most prestigious newspaper, respectively. Anthills of the Savannah’s plot revolves around these three characters.

Although sharing common ancestry and close relationships, they have very diverse political ideologies and personal views.

Sam, the president, has a sycophantic executive council. In addition, he feels betrayed by Chris and Ikem and is furious because Ikem’s home province of Abazon has rejected a referendum to elect him president-for-life.

 

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Ikem, the editor of The National Gazette, is diametrically opposed to Sam. In scathing articles, he criticizes Sam’s personal tendencies toward authoritarianism and dictatorship as well as the public executions that take place in Kangan. After Sam fires him from the Gazette, his love of the truth and people makes him a beloved hero among the Kangan students.

Chris, on the other hand, acts as a mediator between Sam and Ikem. Chris thinks Sam can still be a force for the benefit of his country if he stays in power, despite his growing paranoia and danger. He properly advises Ikem to be more circumspect and adopt a more moderate tone in his criticism of Sam’s administration.

The rising action begins when Ikem severely criticizes Sam during a speech to students, and Sam retaliates by arresting him. What follows are his torture and death. During the course of these events, the entire country collapses into student revolt, midnight raids and a coup d’etat.

The novel, tinged with nearly unbearable suspense, shows that political power, when abused, always leads to tragic consequences.

 

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