Tribute to Chinua Achebe by Leonard Dabydeen

Tribute to Chinua Achebe by Leonard Dabydeen

Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe

Nigerian Chinua Achebe was an icon in English Literature, particularly in the post colonial era. I read and studied his 1958 novel “Things Fall Apart” some four decades ago for a Teachers’ examination in Guyana. Much of his thoughts and future writings stirred a new awareness and longing for us to get up and use the pen to picture our world inside out. He will be remembered as much as he will be missed by all…

Tribute to Chinua Achebe

…whatever the stir
with illusion
or disillusionment
harboured in erectile British colonialism
his thoughts watered our hearts
to grow and palpitate
from Africa
through the blue seas of the Caribbean
across the Atlantic
and Pacific
nurturing ideas
and telling us
how they have put a knife
“on the things that held us together
and things fall apart”.

The following is from Wikipedia: 

Chinua Achebe (pron.: /ˈɪnwɑː əˈɛb/,[1] born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013)[2] was a Nigerian[3] novelistpoetprofessor, andcritic. He was best known for his first novel and magnum opus,[4] Things Fall Apart(1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.[5]

Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) 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). Achebe wrote his novels in English and defended the use of English, a “language of colonisers”, in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” featured a famous criticism of Joseph Conrad as “a bloody racist”; it was later published amid some controversy.

When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a supporter of Biafran independence and acted 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.

Achebe’s novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, 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. From 2009 until his death, he served as a professor at Brown University in the United States.  [Read more]

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  • Elsworth Young  On 06/25/2013 at 12:10 am

    Hello Sir:

    Please note that my e-mail address has been changed. Unfortunately, I was a casualty of the Sunbeach/LIME stand off.

    Thanks and keep up the excellent work.



    • guyaneseonline  On 06/25/2013 at 11:07 am

      Thank you Elsworth. I have made the e-mail address change to the the database.
      Cyril (Bryan)

  • Indira  On 02/02/2021 at 3:23 am

    Reading of Things Fall Apart is my first exposure to African literature. How poignant the novel reads!

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