Remembering Chinua Achebe

Achebe’s first novel, Things Fall Apart, was a landmark of African fiction and has justly remained a classic for more than forty years. Set in the eastern Nigeria village of Umuofia in the late 1880s, it looks back the fierce collision of Nigeria’s Ibo culture – into which Achebe was born – with encroaching European power. Its tragic hero Okonkwo mounts a doomed resistance to the white man that leaves him exiled and destroyed.Achebe describes with marvelous clarity – in the essays of Morning Yet on Creation Day and Hopes and Impediments — how he began to write partly in response to distorted Western views of Africa. Contesting Europe’s invention of the “dark continent,” Achebe retold the story of colonization from a Nigerian viewpoint, portraying a lost society warmly without overidealizing it. He aimed to restore the humanity of Africans — both in their own eyes and those of Western readers. While early critics overemphasized the novel’s anthropological aspects, with Things Fall Apart Achebe also pioneered the fusion of Ibo folklore and idioms with the Western novel, arriving at an African aesthetic in which the art of storytelling is central to the tale. As he wrote: “Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.”Continue Reading…

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Remembering Chinua Achebe


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