Chinua Achebe Essays
Nigerian author Chinua Achebe wrote short stories, essays, poetry and children’s books in addition to five novels and edited collections of modern African literature.
Nelson Mandela hailed him as the author “who brought Africa to the world.”JOHNANNESBURG, South Africa — When Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe was in college, a European professor assigned “Mister Johnson,” which portrayed Africa as a land of grinning, shrieking savages.
Although he grew up as a Christian, the ancestral polytheistic faith remained profoundly influential in the community, with many of Achebe’s relatives cleaving to their traditions.” Achebe wrote.“Things Fall Apart” focuses on the clash between the local Igbo traditions and the colonialists who misunderstood, dismissed and undermined African culture. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one.He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart,” Achebe wrote in the novel.At 14 he was accepted into an elite boarding school in southeastern Nigeria, and as a young man he read so much that he was nicknamed “Dictionary.” He later won a university scholarship to study medicine.After a year, he switched to his passion, writing, and studied English, history and theology.In his writings for the student newspaper, he began to find his voice.He started to wonder why his parents converted to Christianity and pondered the conflicts that change brought.After achieving fame as a writer, he introduced his British publisher to the works of fellow African writers, including the celebrated Ngugi wa Thiongo.Achebe was a staunch supporter of Biafra’s unsuccessful bid to split from Nigeria in 1967, triggering three years of civil war that brought about a devastating famine.That decision was to change his life and the landscape of African literature.Growing up, he had absorbed Western prejudices so thoroughly that, he later wrote, “I did not see myself as an African to begin with.” But in college, it dawned on him that he had given up too much of his identity and could not accept white authors’ portrayals of Africans as culturally inferior and subhuman.