Chinua Achebe’s anti-colonial trilogy still relevant

| April 1, 2013

Courtesy of Global Information Network

(GIN)—Commentaries and reflections on the contribution of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe to world literature continue to spark across the internet from all parts of the world.

Achebe, the author of “Things Fall Apart,” among other writings, passed suddenly on March 21. He was 82.

Achebe challenged the dominant Eurocentric perspectives of his time and brought an African perspective to the story of colonialism in Nigeria. His books showed the clash between the Igbo and the British in Nigeria: first from the perspective of a Nigerian father, and in the second book from the perspective of his European-educated son.

Tributes and references to the relevance of his work appeared from a number of sources.

From the Guardian newspaper: “From the seeds of his example, hundreds of African literary flowers have bloomed. To a writer such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Achebe’s vigorous redefinition of colonialism is less a battle plan than a legacy.”

Sudanese writer Nesrine Malik, wrote, “Achebe was a visionary who traced the modern tragedy of the dehumanizing effects of cultural arrogance and absolutism, and how they are manifested as the moral arms of cynical campaigns still at work today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, the missionaries are still coming to the village.

Malik continued: “Achebe’s mission statement was to ‘set the record straight.’ His seminal work, ‘Things Fall Apart,’ was the first in an African trilogy that set about establishing the validity of life in tribal Nigeria in the late 19th century, before the ‘civilizing’ colonialism of Christian missionaries arrived.”

Nigerian writer Monica Mark, added, “Despite his age and distance from his homeland—he died in Boston, where he had lived for years—Achebe’s frequent and often barbed pronouncements against an oil-fed Nigerian elite kept him very much in the national psyche. He further endeared himself to a younger generation of Nigerians weary of corruption, when he twice turned down a national honor in 2004 and 2011.”

Nigerian author Wole Soyinka, said this: “No matter the reality, after the initial shock, and a sense of abandonment, we confidently assert that Chinua lives. His works provide their enduring testimony to the domination of the human spirit over the forces of repression, bigotry and retrogression.”

This article originally appeared in our April 3, 2013 issue.

Category: Africa Briefs

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