Friday, 22 March 2013

Rest in Peace Chinua Achebe, the doyen of African Literature

I have learned of the passing of the great African literature guru, Chinua Achebe. I remember Chinua Achebe for his classic novels of "A Man of the People", "Things Fall Apart", "Arrow of God", "Anthills of Savannah", "No longer at ease". I have had the privilege of reading a couple of his books. Chinua Achebe was the doyen of African literature. Achebe is man who achieved a lot during his early years of academic life. As my professor puts it, "it was not for his excellence that he achieved all success". My professor quickly reminds me of how Achebe got a third degree honors in his class. He was not the brightest in his class. He was fortunate to have written these books at a time when the world was dominated by Western literature. A new wave of African literature beckoned with his works. There is no doubt, the works by Achebe lit up the African narrative of African literature. He wrote on the role of culture in Africa and the social and political significance of aesthetics and analysis of the postcolonial state in Africa. His works, especially, "Things fall Apart" became the blueprint of literature scholarship in Africa. 

I recently read his book on the "Trouble with Nigeria"(1983). This book examined what Achebe terms as the 'failure of leadership'. This inspiring book aimed to challenge the resignation of Nigerians and inspire them to reject old habits which inhibit Nigeria from becoming a modern and attractive country.The insights of the book were not only relevant to Nigeria as a case point but to the continent as a whole. The failure of leadership coupled with rampant corruption, ethnicity, nepotism, anarchy etc have all plagued the continent. In a recent discussion with my friends, we thought Achebe could have rewritten the book to capture the continental baggage of the above mentioned vices, which have sadly not changed. Rest well Chinua Achebe. The world celebrates you.

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