Friday, April 5, 2013

Chinua Achebe: The Exit of an Iroko

Professor Chinua Achebe the renowned Nigerian author has been rightly referred to in many ways as the father of African literature. It is unbelievable that this international giant of letters authored his world famous classic – Things Fall Apart in 1958 when the young writer was just 28 years of age. This particular work has so far been translated into over 50 international languages having sold over 10 million copies internationally.

Prof Chinua Achebe
Two years ago Achebe made headlines when he turned down a $1million offer from American Hip-Hop star, Curtis Jackson popularly known as 50 Cent, for permission to use the ‘Things Fall Apart’ title for a movie he was about making. The renowned essayist and political critic was serving as Professor of African studies at Brown University, Rhode Island. As a mark of his staunch political and principled stance on matters of integrity, and relating to his utter disgust at the manner of political leadership style back home in Nigeria, Achebe in the course of time had had cause to reject two national merit awards by successive governments, while decrying the state of affairs in the country.

“Things Fall Apart” which was illustrated by an equally renowned visual artist and childhood and bosom friend of the writer - Prof Chike Okeke, went on to become one of Africa’s most read novels around the world. The man who is fondly called the father of modern African Literature would rather be referred to as a “giant in world literature” by fellow Nigerian writer - Biyi Bandele. A revered member of the titled elders’ forum called Ichie, as well as an Ozo red cap chief of his Ogidi clan in Anambra State, Chinua Achebe will be missed by all manner of readers and admirers of his colourful prose crafted in the most eloquent mastery of story-telling.

It is also amazing how all the titles of the world great African author - Achebe reflect perfectly all the unfolding events and history of Nigeria his country – chronicling the nuances and vicissitudes of an African nation. Achebe could have died an unhappy man in respect of the unfulfilled hopes and dreams he had for his beloved country, and the load of disappointments owing to the reckless and callous ruling cabals throughout the decades following independence, but by every standard he departed this wicked world transcending above it, having translated into immortality. Chinua Achebe's legacies are beyond compare - they are at one time prophetic, and then didactic. His exit has created a big vacuum in the literary world; it is indeed the fall of an Iroko, the flight of an eagle into the clouds.

By: Morgan Nwanguma

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