Anthills of the Savannah
is a novel by one of the Nigerian acclaimed novelist, Chinua Achebe. This novel centers around three personages—Chris, Sam and Ikem. Contrary to his earlier and ambition to be a medical doctor, Sam goes to Sanhurst to be trained as a soldier. When he comes back, there is a coup in the country; his school friends invite him to be the head of state. His friends help him to form a kitchen cabinet in Kangan with the headquarters in Bassa.
After a while, Sam then wants everybody to vote for him to become a live president. The people of Abazon refuse to vote for him because to them, it is an aberration for a military officer to perpetrate in power. Not quite long, a drought strikes Abazon. The people ask the government to help but the government refuses. The people then decide to pay the president a solidarity visit.
As they get to the headquarters, the officials are afraid. The president decides to send Okong to pacify them. The visit is not covered by the media for fear of not wanting other tribes to follow suit. In their hotel room, a tribesman decides to visit them. Ikem is also invited to meet the delegation.
The president soon learns about this and thinks that Ikem has joined Abazon to form an insurrection. For this reason, the president asks Chris to prepare a sack letter to be sent to Ikem but Chris refuses. Hence, the president masterminds the killing of Ikem in cold blood. Before his death, Ikem has had a speech where a member of the audience asks him about his view about the excessive of the president. Ikem tells him, nay, the audience that it is like the president wants his head cut off.
On their journey to the northern part of the country, they were stopped by a soldier who wanted to rape a girl but Chris would not allow him. In the fracas that ensued, the soldier shot Chris dead.
In the meantime, there is an upheaval in the country. As the novel comes to an end, Ikem and Chris are killed as Elewa, Ikem''s wife gives birth to a baby and the baby is christened by Beatrice.
A critical analysis will reveal that Achebe is talking about the issue of power in the novel. This power issue can also be found in most of Soyinka''s works. It should be noted that power without a responsibility is an abuse of power. It is this abuse of power Achebe is much concerned about. In looking at the abuse of power in the novel, we look at Sam, a likeable, charming, intelligent, warm, social net worker and a friendly general whose friends are Chris and Ikem.
We can compare the bond between the trio with Jonathan and David in the Bible. Unfortunately, friendship has been bastardized these days. People are now motivated by the pressure of needs.
Friendship should be based on love, altruism, magnanimity and care. But this is not what is found in the novel. Because of the pursuit of power, one of the trios, Sam who was hitherto friends turns his back from his other friends and even threatens to kill them.
The novel also portrays betrayal of trust in relationships. Achebe tells us that Beatrice is beautiful but not flamboyant. He shows the relationship among Chris, Ikem and Sam on one hand and that of Chris and Beatrice and Ikem and Elewa on the other. The relationship between Chris and Beatrice and that of Ikem and Elewa is healthy.
The relationship between Ikem and Elewa is quite significant. Perhaps Achebe is telling us that love breaks all barriers—class, educational differences, tribe and ethnicity. Apart from the domestic relationships, there is also an unhealthy relationship between the so-called third worlds and the west. Despite the fact that Beatrice is Chris girlfriend, Sam would want to sleep with her. Beatrice would not succumb to his advances.
Beatrice seems to be a type cast on whose sensibility the destiny of the collectivity of the nation is hinged. She has a sense of religiosity. Her character is uniqShe seems to draw her strength from all sources—a first class graduate from a western university and a product of a mission school. Achebe takes time to describe her.
The novel also talks about oppression. This is very true as we recall the fracas between Chris and the soldier which later leads to Chris death. The masses are always tolerating the excesses of those in power. Achebe touches on the issue of a few being rich at the expense of the masses.