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Invitation to World Literature


Map & Timeline

Every border you see on this map was drawn by a European power; Nigeria, which contains the Igbo lands of the novel, was created by the British. The map of Africa looked very different before the 1800s, before the arrival of colonizing European powers. The Igbo lands in the heartland of the Niger River valley (now southeastern Nigeria) were not expansive, but they created and nurtured a distinct culture for many centuries. Despite the artificial divisions and boundaries created by empire, the traditional cultures of Africa live on.

Oligarchies and large commercial states dominate Igbo lands on Africa's Gulf of Guinea.

The Onitsha Kingdom is founded in the 1500s.

1500-1600 The kingdom of Borno in today's western Nigeria reaches its height.

Western Igbo kingdoms dominate trade in the lower Niger region.

The Arochukwu kingdom oversees creation of the Aro Confederacy, which ruled what are today's mid-western and eastern Nigeria and parts of modern-day Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.

Following the end of the Napoleonic wars between France and Great Britain, Britain begins to trade with the interior, calling the region "Nigeria" based on the path the Niger River takes through the area.

Britain charters the Royal Niger Company to claim a sphere of influence in Nigeria.

Nigeria becomes a British protectorate ruled by Great Britain.

Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa areas are officially united under Britain as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.

Chinua Achebe is born in the Igbo village of Ogidi.

Nigerians demand independence.

Things Fall Apart is published in England.

Nigeria gains independence, as a parliamentary democracy.

The First Republic is created.

1966 The government is overthrown by a group of army officers, mostly Igbos; another coup follows in which thousands of Igbos are massacred.

Igbos in the southeast declare independence from Nigeria, establishing the Republic of Biafra; the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War) begins. Achebe's house is bombed after he protests the war.

1969 Achebe chairs the National Guidance Committee, which publishes The Ahiara Declaration, a statement of principles and ideals for post-war Nigeria.

1970 The Nigerian Civil War, or Biafran War, ends with the defeat of the Igbos.

The period of the Second Republic, marked by much political unrest and overturned election results.

The period of the Third Republic, during which the country is ruled by a dictator, Sani Abacha.

1999-present The period of the Fourth Republic, democratically voted in.

President Goodluck Jonathan takes office after Umaru Yar'Adua dies suddenly in office.

© 2010 Map Resources, All rights reserved.
The pink area shows the Igbo lands, where the action of the novel takes place.
© 2010 JupiterImages Corporation
The Gulf of Guinea region
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division
Igbo carvings
Flag of the Aro Confederacy
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division
Africans watch British traders land
British and Africans assembled under the flag of the Royal Niger Company
Image ©Igor Golovniov, 2010. Used under license from Shutterstock.com
British stamp showing its Nigerian possession
National Geographic Society
Early 20th century map of colonial Nigeria
An Igbo compound, early 20th century
© Bettmann/CORBIS
Nigerian delegates to a 1953 London political conference
Smithsonian - Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives
Chinua Achebe at the time of publication
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division
1960 Newspaper special on Nigerian independence
© Bettmann/CORBIS
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, first leader of the Republic
Eric Gaba
The pale yellow region represents the secessionist state of the Republic of Biafra
Defense Visual Information Center (DVIC)
Second Republic president Shariri
© Reuters/Corbis
Sani Abacha
President Jonathan and U.S. President Obama in 2010