A Man of the People by Achebe, Chinua
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From one of Africa’s most beloved and famous writers comes Chinua Achebe’s gripping, evocative, and classic novel—originally published in 1966—about a village teacher’s attempts to usurp a corrupt politician and create a post-colonial nation in Nigeria.
Odili is a young teacher in a small village school in Nigeria. Shortly after Odili begins his assignment, he discovers the school is rife with corruption. Behind the school’s questionable politics is none other than Odili’s former teacher, Chief Nanga, who is now an elected official and the Minister of Culture of Nigeria.
Though Odili does not agree with Nanga’s politics, he cannot help but also be intrigued by his power. When Nanga invites his former pupil to stay at his home in the capital city and offers to make arrangements to assist him in studying abroad, Odili cannot refuse his generosity. But it is not just his host’s charm that has captivated Odili, but also Nanga’s young, beautiful fiancée Edna.
Soon, Odili notices the lavish lifestyle Nanga lives in as a result of the bribes he takes, and though he is the Minister of Culture, his ignorance is readily apparent. And when Nanga has an affair with Elise, a woman Odili has been seeing, he realizes nothing—and no one—is off limits for this ruthless politician. Intent on seeking revenge, Odili seduces Edna. But what begins as vengeance gives way to deeper feelings as Odili and Edna fall in love. Still, Nanga’s influence is too great for Edna to break off her engagement—for she knows the dire consequences she and her family would suffer.
Refusing to accept the poor conditions in his country any longer, Odili runs for office to usurp Chief Nanga’s position, and he finds himself faced with the choice of whether to be like every other corrupt politician in his country or set an example by leading the honest way…but doing what is right could come at a very costly price.
As timely today as when it was first published in 1966, Man of the People is a poignant, commanding depiction of a nation in conflict and the attraction of power.