Friday, March 22, 2013

Tribute to Chinua Achebe

Good write-up in the Guardian on Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, the father of African literature, who died in Boston, aged 82:

"African literature burst onto the world stage with Achebe's 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, which portrays an Igbo yam farmer's fatal struggle to come to terms with British colonialism in the late 19th century. It remains the best-selling novel ever written by an African author, having sold more than 10-million copies in 50 different languages. Nelson Mandela, who read his books during his 27-year incarceration, once said of him: "He was the writer in whose company the prison walls came down."

Chinua Achebe peered deep into the Nigerian psyche

"Achebe's works do not fear to challenge those post-colonial, independent regimes in Africa who abuse personal power in every possible way – from banning political opposition, to corruption. His novel A Man of the People, a biting satire on corruption in freed African regimes, uses the blade of humour to alert us to official greed and the cant which legitimises it."  from "A mind able to penetrate the mystery of being human."

New York Times ran an eloquent obituary:
In his writing and teaching Mr. Achebe sought to reclaim the continent from Western literature, which he felt had reduced it to an alien, barbaric and frightening land devoid of its own art and culture. He took particular exception to "Heart of Darkness," the novel by Joseph Conrad, whom he thought “a thoroughgoing racist.” 

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