Things Fall Apart back to the Owners: Adapting Achebe’s Text to Film for the Igbo Populace


  • Robert Wesonga Department of Linguistics, Literature and Communication, University of Kabianga
  • John Mugubi Department of Film and Theatre Arts, Kenyatta University


At the beginning of scholarship on film adaptation, critics dismissed adapted films as watered down versions of their literary antecedents. Scholars such as Woof (1950) argued that the films were reductive of the supremacy of the texts, and that films depended on the popularity of literary texts in order to gain credibility. This fidelity-betrayal aesthetic would see adapted films reviled and disregarded as fodder only fit for the lower classes of the society. In further arguments that were logocentric (aiming to vouch for the supremacy of the text and dismiss the dependence of the adapted film), films adapted from literature were judged to be less intellectually stimulating, and born out of a lack of ingenuity on the part of the filmmakers to create new works of art, completely autonomous in their right (Cartmell, et al. (2008). Using the case of Things Fall Apart (the literary text and the adapted film) this paper, however, seeks to counter this notion and rationalize that in adapting the film from Achebe’s text, the filmmaker succeeds in bringing the story of Okonkwo and Umuofia back home – to the people among whom it originally happened. The main argument in this paper is hinged on the understanding that while the text is discriminative, allowing only the schooled members of the Igbo population to read their story, the film is more accommodating. This is made possible because the cinematic medium has the ability to reach a larger section of the Igbo people who do not have a reading chance or interpretive ability to interact with the narrative in the literary form and the meanings thereof.


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How to Cite

Wesonga, R., & Mugubi, J. (2017). Things Fall Apart back to the Owners: Adapting Achebe’s Text to Film for the Igbo Populace. Nairobi Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 1(9).




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