One of the best known Nigerian ever, and a celebrated author, Chinua Achebe, died on March 22, 2013. The night threw the international community into mourning. Prof. Achebe, 82 passed on in a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, United States of American (USA) following a brief illness, according to his agents Andrew Wylie.
Achebe is credited with giving literacy birth to modern decades to rewrite and reclaim the history of his native country. His last death, Prof Achebe was a David and Marianna Fisher University Professor, and Professor of African Studies at Brown University. He was also beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an worldwide was rivaled only by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison and a handful of others. Achebe was a moral and literary model for countless Africans and a profound influence on such American writers as Morission, Ha Jin and Junot Diaz. As a Nigerian, Achebe lived through and helped define revolutionary change in his country, from independence to dictatorship to the disastrous war between Nigeria and the breakaway country of Biafra in the late 1960s. He knew both the prestige of serving on government commission and the fear of being declared an enemy of the state. He spent much of his adult life in the United States, but never stopped calling for democracy in Nigeria or resisting literary honors from a government, he refused to accept. His public life began in his mid-twenties. He was a resident manuscript for Things Fall Apart, a short novel about a Nigeria tribesman downfall at the hands of British colonialists. Turned down by several publishers, the book was finally accepted by Heinemann and released in 1958 with a fist printing of 2,000 copies. Its initial review in the New York Times ran less than 500 words, but the novel soon became among the most important books of the 20th Century, a universally acknowledged starting point for post colonial, indigenous African fiction, the prophetic union of British letters and African oral culture. It would be impossible to say how things Fall Apart influenced African writing, the African scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah once observed: “It would be like asking how Shakespeare influenced English writers or Pushkin influenced Russions. Achebe didn’t only play the game, he invented it.
Things Fall Apart has sold more than eight million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 50 languages. It was recently named once of the 50 Most Influential Books of the last 50 years. Achebe also was a forceful critic of Western Literature about Africa, especially Joseph Conrades Heart of Darkness, standard reading for millions, but in Achebe’s opinion, defining examples of how even a great Western mind could reduce a foreign civilization to barbarism and menace. “Now I grew up among very eloquent elders. In the village, or even in the church, which my father made sure we attended, there were eloquent speakers. So if you reduce that eloquent which I encountered to eight words………. Its going to be very different, “Achebe told the Associated Press in 2008. “You know that its going to be battle to turn it around, to say to people respond in this situation, by unintelligible grunts, and so on, they would speak. And it is that speech that I knew I wanted to be written down, “His first novel was intended as a trilogy and the author continued its story in A man of the people and Arrow of God. He also children stories and a political satire,The Anthills of Savannah, a 1987 release that was the last full length fiction to come out in his lifetime. Wheelchair-bound in his latter years, he would cite his physical problem and displacement from home as stifling to his imaginative powers. Achebe never did win the Nobel Prize, which many believed he deserved, but in 2007, he did receive the Man Booker International Prize, as $120,000 honour for lifetime achievement Achebe, paralyzed from the waist down since a 1990 auto accident, lives for years in a cottage built for him on the campus of Bard College, a leading liberal arts schools north of New York City where he was a faculty member.
He joined Brown University in 2009 as a professor of language and literature. Achebe a native of Ogidi, Anambra State, regarded his life as a bartering between conflicting cultures. He spoke of the two types of music running through his mind-Ibo legends and the prose of Dicken. He was also exposed to different faiths. His father worked in a local missionary and was among the first in their village to be converted to Christianity.
WORLD LEADERS EXTOL HIS VIRTUES, WE WILL MISS THE GREAT AUTHOR, SAYS JONATHAN
President Goodluck, Jonathan who mourned the late Prof. Chinua Achebe said he received new s of the globally acclaimed writer with immense sadness. According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Rueben Abati, the President joined other Nigerians to mourn the legendary author. He said that the was consoled by the knowledge that the late Prof. Achebe would live forever in the hearts and minds of present and future generations through his great works.
The statement reads: “The Presidents believes that Prof. Achebe’s frank, truthful and fearless interventions in national affairs will be greatly missed at home in Nigeria because while others may have disagreed with his views, most Nigerian never doubted his immense patriotism and sincere commitment prosperous nations Africans and the entire black race could be proud of. He recalls that with maturity and global stature, Prof. Achebe fearlessly spoke the truth as he saw age, a much revered national icon and conscience of the nation who will be eternally honoured for his contributions to national discourse as well as the immense fame and glory he brought to his fatherland. On behalf of himself, his family, the Federal Government and all Nigerians, President Jonathan extends heartfelt condolence to Prof. Achebe’s family. He prays that God Almighty will receive Prof. Achebe’s great soul and grant him eternal rest from his outstanding earthly labours. The pain of Achebe’s death was felt across Nigeria. Former government Minister, Dora Akunyili said Achebe’s death leaves a void in Nigeria, Africa and globally. South African novelist and friend, Nadine Gordimer Said, Chinua Achebe’s early work made him the father of modern African literature as an integral part of world literature. Upon learning of his death Gordimer offered this advice, “read read, read all his works from things Fall Apart to his last work”. In Africa, many leaders remembered Achebe as a man whose works helped define the African spirit. “We have lost a great son and the Father of African Literature, said Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Simon Winder, publishing director at penguin in the U.K called Achebe an utterly remarkable man. “Chinua Achebe is the greatest of African writers and we are all desolate to hear of this death”, he said.
HE WAS A COLOSSUS, SAYS ZUMA
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa described Achebe as a “colossus of African writing”. He expressed sadness at his death. Nelson Mandela, who read Achebe’s work in jail, has called him a writer “in whose company the prison wall fell down”. Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, told of his Igbo ethnic group fatal brush with British colonizers in the 1800s the first time the story of European colonialism had been told from an African view point to an international audience. The book was translated into 50 languages and has sold more than 10 millions copies worldwide. He later turned his sight on the devastation wrought to Nigerian and Africa by wrought to Nigeria and Africa by Military coups and entrenched dictatorship. Anthills of the Savannah published in 1987, is set after a coup in a fictional African country, where power has corrupted and state brutality silenced all but the most courageous.
WE HAVE LOST A GREAT MAN – RIBADU
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu described Professor Chinua Achebe as the pillar of African literature and perhaps the most attentive and painstaking visioner of African culture in the face of a global doubt in the immediate years after the independence waves of the sixties. “By this passage we have lost a great man, a moral cantre and a brave commentator who always spoke loudly and clearly what most believes but are too timid or shy to utter. May his death bring a nobler challenge to the Nigeria dream and our vision of a just home land. I also wish to extend my sincere condolences to the Achebe Family, the government and people of Anambra State and all Nigerians on this great loss. I pray that God gives us all the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
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