Friday, March 22, 2013

Nigeria: Chinua Achebe dies

'Father of modern African literature' Achebe, 82, dies after short illness

                                      Stolen from  

Chinua Achebe, described as the “father of modern African literature” who inspired generations of writers across the continent, has died at the age of 82. 

embarrassed to say I have never read any of his work. That will change soon.

The Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart, considered the essential novel on African identity and nationalism, passed away at a hospital in the US city of Boston after a brief illness.

" Returning from exile, Okonkwo finds his village a changed place because of the presence of the white man. He and other tribal leaders try to reclaim their hold on their native land by destroying a local Christian church. In return, the leader of the white government takes them prisoner and holds them for ransom for a short while, further humiliating and insulting the native leaders. 
As a result, the people of Umuofia finally gather for what could be a great uprising. Okonkwo, a warrior by nature and adamant about following Umuofian custom and tradition, despises any form of cowardice and advocates for war against the white men. When messengers of the white government try to stop the meeting, Okonkwo kills one of them. He realizes with despair that the people of Umuofia are not going to fight to protect themselves—his society's response to such a conflict, so long predictable and dictated by tradition, is changing.
When the local leader of the white government comes to Okonkwo's house to take him to court, he finds that Okonkwo has hanged himself. He ultimately commits suicide rather than being tried in a colonial court for killing a white man. Among his own people, Okonkwo's action has ruined his reputation and status, as it is strictly against the teachings of the Igbo to commit suicide."

Colonialism can never be justified and that is something that the players in the Eastern DR Congo might want to consider.

In a statement, his family said: “One of the great literary voices of his time, he was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him.”

Achebe moved to the US for treatment after a car accident left him paralysed in 1990 and since 2009 had been a professor of Africana Studies at Brown University. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize, where judge Nadine Gordimer dubbed him the “father of modern African literature”.

He received a string of literary honours and prizes throughout his career including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, honorary fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Unesco fellowship for creative artists. He became the first living author to be represented in the Everyman’s Library collection.

Achebe was born in 1930, in Igboland, a region in south east Nigeria. He discovered the power of fiction at University College, Ibadan, where he read the novel Mister Johnson by Joyce Cary, which depicted Africans as “jealous savages”. He set about challenging the literary trope that painted the Africans as “unhuman”.

Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide and was one of the first novels to chronicle Africa from an African viewpoint. The novel, set in the 1890s, follows Okonkwo, a yam farmer in a fictional Nigerian village and tracks the effects of British colonialism and Christian missionaries.

Fans ranged from novelist Margaret Atwood and poet Maya Angelou, to Nelson Mandela, who called Achebe a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down”.

When Nelson Mandela describes a novel in such a way I know I have got to read it and his other works. They will be reviewed here in due coarse.

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