Today we celebrate Chinua Achebe’s 87th birthday. Considered by many to be the father of modern African literature, Achebe touched many lives with his words.
Google decided to honour the legacy of the renowned Nigerian writer with a #googledoodle illustration of him surrounded by symbols, donning his signature cap and spectacles, Chinua Achebe is pictured in front of a green banner decorated with icons of his most famous literary works.
Chinua Achebe, born Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe on November 16, 1930, was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. Achebe was an illustrious author whose work sought to reclaim Africa’s literary voice from Western control.
Achebe rose to international prominence when he published Things Fall Apart at 28 years-old. Based on his own family heritage and upbringing, the story recounts the demise of an Ibo man in southeastern Nigeria under the oppression of 19th-century British colonial rule.
Things Fall Apart was the first of three novels in Chinua Achebe’s critically acclaimed African Trilogy. It is a classic narrative about Africa’s cataclysmic encounter with Europe as it establishes a colonial presence on the continent. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, Things Fall Apart explores one man’s futile resistance to the devaluing of his Igbo traditions by British political and religious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order.
The book (which I also had the privilege of studying as part of my English Literature learning material – thanks to my amazing English Literature teacher at the prestigious Federal Government Girls College, Abuloma, Nigeria – Mrs. Gloria Nwosuagwu) is now a classic and required reading for students, selling more than 20 million copies and translated into 57 different languages.
The book, also in recognition of its universality, appears in the Bokklubben World Library collection “proposed by one hundred writers from fifty-four different countries, compiled and organized in 2002 by the Norwegian Book Club. This list endeavors to reflect world literature, with books from all countries, cultures, and time periods.”
Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka described the Achebe’s work as “the first novel in English which spoke from the interior of the African character, rather than portraying the African as an exotic, as the white man would see him.”
A titled Igbo chieftain himself, 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.
Upon his return to the United States back in 1990, he began an eighteen-year tenure at Bard College as the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature. Achebe was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2007. From 2009 until his death in March 2013, Achebe served as David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University.
Daalụ nke ukwuu, Chinua Achebe!
What’s your Favorite Chinua Achebe Book?
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Yours in love – The Renaissance Lady ©