Chinua Achebe, The Father of Modern African Literature Dies at 82

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Professor Chinua Achebe was born in Ogidi, AnambraNigeria November 16, 1930. He was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature. Raised by Christian parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies.

He became faci
nated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987).

 Professor Achebe writes his novels in English and has defended the use of English, a “language of colonizers”, in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” became the focus of controversy, for its criticism of Joseph Conrad as “a bloody racist”. When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a devoted supporter of Biafra independence and served as ambassador for the people of the new nation.

 The war ravaged the populace, and as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the people of Europe and the Americas for aid. When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, he involved himself in political parties but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed. He lived in the United States for several years in the 1970s, and returned to the U.S. in 1990 after a car accident left him partially disabled.

 Professor Achebe’s novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He has also published a number of short stories, children’s books, and essay collections.

 Though Professor Achebe spent his later decades teaching at American universities, most recently at Brown, his writings — novels, stories, poems, essays and memoirs — were almost invariably rooted in the countryside and cities of his native Nigeria. His most memorable fictional characters were buffeted and bewildered by the competing pulls of traditional African culture and invasive Western values.

Achebe died at age 82 following a brief illness on Thursday, 22nd day of March, 2013 in Boston, MassachusettsUSA.

 

  • Apr 10, 2013: 

Senate of New York State, USA  has passed a resolution

J1186-2013: Mourning the death of paramount novelist Chinua Achebe, founder and pioneer of African literature

Sponsor: Parker J1186-2013 Actions

 

Same as: / Versions: J1186-2013Sponsor: PARKER Law Section: Resolutions, Legislative
 LEGISLATIVE  RESOLUTION  mourning the death of paramount novelist Chinua
 Achebe, founder and pioneer of African literature

 WHEREAS, It is the sense of this Legislative Body to pay tribute to  the
 lives  of those esteemed individuals of international renown who distin
 guished themselves through their life's work; and
 WHEREAS, Foremost novelist, Professor Chinua Achebe, died on Thursday,
 March 21, 2013, at the age of 82; and

 WHEREAS, Born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, on November 16, 1930, Chinua
 Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic; he was best
 known for his 1958 novel, THINGS FALL APART,  selling  over  12  million
 copies  around  the world, and having been translated into 50 languages,
 making him the most paraphrased African writer of all time; and

 WHEREAS, Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeast
 ern Nigeria, Chinua Achebe excelled academically and earned  a  scholar
 ship  for  undergraduate  studies; he became fascinated with world reli
 gions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories  as  a
 college student; and

 WHEREAS,  After  graduation,  Chinua  Achebe  worked  for the Nigerian
 Broadcasting Service (NBS) and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos; he
 gained worldwide attention for  THINGS  FALL  APART;  his  later  novels
 include:  NO  LONGER  AT  EASE (1960), ARROW OF GOD (1964), A MAN OF THE
 PEOPLE (1966), and ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH (1987); and

 WHEREAS, When the region of Biafra broke away from  Nigeria  in  1967,
 Chinua  Achebe  became  a supporter of Biafran independence and acted as
 ambassador for the people of the new nation; the war ravaged  the  popu
 lace,  and  as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the
 people of Europe and the Americas for assistance; and

 WHEREAS, When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, Chin
 ua Achebe involved himself in political parties, but soon  resigned  due
 to  frustration  over  the  corruption and elitism he witnessed, thereby
 deciding to devote himself to academia; he lived in  the  United  States
 for  several  years in the 1970s, and returned there in 1990 after a car
 accident left him partially disabled; and

 WHEREAS, Chinua Achebe's novels focus on the traditions of Igbo socie
 ty, the effect of Christian influences, and the  clash  of  Western  and
 traditional  African values during and after the colonial era; his style
 relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines  straightforward
 narration  with  representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory;
 he also published a number of short stories, children's books, and essay
 collections; and

 WHEREAS, A David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and  Profes
 sor  of  Africana  Studies  at Brown University, Chinua Achebe worked up
 until the time of his death; and
 WHEREAS, New York's Bard College,  with  a  distinguished  history  of
 supporting Chinua Achebe's work and legacy, will continue to be a prima
 ry home for his projects; and

 WHEREAS,  Professor  Achebe's global significance lies not only in his
 talent and recognition as a writer, but also as a critical  thinker  and
 essayist who has written extensively on questions of the role of culture
 in Africa along with the social and political significance of aesthetics
 and analysis of the postcolonial state in Africa; and

 WHEREAS,  Chinua Achebe distinguished himself in his profession and by
 his sincere dedication and substantial contribution to  the  welfare  of
 his community; and

 WHEREAS,  Chinua  Achebe's commitment to excellence, and his spirit of
 humanity, carried over into all fields of enterprise, including charita
 ble and civic endeavors; and

 WHEREAS,  Chinua Achebe is survived by his wife, Christie, their chil
 dren, Chinelo, Ikechukwu, Chidi, and Nwando as well  as  his  grandchil
 dren, Chochi, Chino, Chidera, C.J. (Chinua Jr.), Nnamdi and Zeal; and
 WHEREAS,  Armed  with  a  humanistic spirit and imbued with a sense of
 compassion, Chinua Achebe leaves behind a legacy which will long  endure
 the  passage  of  time  and will remain as a comforting memory to all he
 served and befriended; now, therefore, be it
 RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause  in  its  deliberations  to
 mourn the death of paramount novelist Chinua Achebe, founder and pioneer
 of African literature; and be it further
 RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be tran
 smitted to the family of Chinua Achebe.
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