"There is no story that is not true, [...] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others."
Happy birthday Chinua Achebe!
Chinua Achebe (November 16, 1930—March 21, 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, essayist, and writer of short and children's fiction. He was also a professor and critic. His most widely read novel is Things Fall Apart (1958), but he wrote several others as well as the influential essay "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness" (1975). He is remembered as one of the greatest storytellers of African culture as well as a preeminent postcolonial scholar.
Achebe was born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe in the Igbo village of Ogidi in Nigeria. His parents were Isaiah Okafo Achebe and Janet Anaenechi Iloegbunam. They were Protestant converts and their religion, combined with a respect for their own cultural traditions, played a major role in the way they raised their children.
Storytelling was a major part of Achebe's childhood as it was a major part of Igbo culture. In his home were many books, including A Midsummer Night's Dream and an Igbo version of The Pilgrim's Progress.
Achebe studied English at the University of Ibadan. Following his studies, he landed in a career in broadcasting, at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation as its external director. However, even before he joined NBC, he had already published his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958). The book looked at the relationship between his local culture and the culture of the white missionaries. The book had a huge impact—it is now required reading in many schools.
During the 1960s, Achebe wrote prolifically. His work during this period included No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964) and A Man of the People (1966).
In 1967, Achebe worked with renowned poet Christopher Okigbo to co-found a publishing company that aimed to publish African-oriented children's books. Not long after, Okigbo was killed in the Nigerian Civil War.
Following this, he embarked on a tour of the United States with writers Gabriel Okara and Cyprian Ekwensi. He returned to Nigeria to become a research fellow and a professor at the University of Nigeria.
The 1970s saw Achebe publish several collections of short stories, poems, and essays, as well as a children's book called How the Leopard Got His Claws (1973).
In 1975, he gave a lecture that went on to become a turning point for postcolonial thought. In "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness," Achebe argues that Conrad's work is a racist depiction of Africans.
Other important works of Achebe's include Anthills of the Savannah (1987) and Hopes and Impediments (1988), the former of which was shortlisted for the Booker McConnell Prize.
In the early 1990s, Achebe was in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He spent his later years as a professor at Bard College and later at Brown University. (Image source)
Achebe earned many honors throughout his career, including the Man Booker International Prize in 2007 and the the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 2010.
- Birthday Date: Sunday, 16 November 2014