“A Man of the People”, a novel created by Chinua Achebe in 1966, depicts a situation in an African country. The book describes a rivalry between the Minister of Culture, Chief Nanga, and his former student, Odili. Chinua calls Mr. Nanga “man of the people” in the first lines of the book, and the reader expects that this character incarnates all the best personality traits (Chinua 1). However, in this sense, the title appears to be misleading. The current essay explains why the book was given this heading.
First of all, it is necessary to notice that the book’s plot is ironic since it emphasizes the social and political problems that are faced even in modern societies. Chief Nanga is an irresponsible, corrupted, selfish person who leads the ministry of culture despite the ignorance in this sphere. Odili, on the contrary, is an activist who suffers from a sense of injustice and tries to change the situation for the better. However, his attempts are vain and end up with devastating consequences.
While reading the title “A Man of the People”, one thinks of the person who leads these people and whom they follow and respect. Apparently, Mr. Nanga does not deserve to be called by this name since all he thinks about is his wealth and personal comfort. Odili also fails to take this leading position since he ends up a victim of this opponent’s violence and strives for power.
To conclude, the title of the book is as ironic as the whole plot. Besides, it emphasizes the difference between the expectations and the harsh reality, and one could suppose that this title was given to enhance this feeling of mismatch. The book leaves space for thinking if it is possible for a person who could be called “A Man of the People” to conquer all the corruptness, ignorance, selfishness, and violence that flourish in any society.
Achebe, Chinua. A Man of the People. Heinemann, 1966.