Thousands mourned the literary giant Chinua Achebe at his hometown funeral today. He has been revered throughout the world for his depiction of Africa’s journey from the traditional to modern times. He was often very critical of the leaders of his native Nigeria.
He had lived in the US since an accident in 1990 left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Although he died last March in the United States at the age of 82, his life and legacy are in the news this week following his funeral in Ogidi, Nigeria. His final rite of passage called “ikwa ozu”, which means “celebrating the dead” will be held following his interment.
Achebe is one of the authors included in our high school reading list, Books for the Journey. He has long been regarded as the father of modern African literature and best known for his ground-breaking first novel, Things Fall Apart. Other titles annotated in the reading list include: Arrow of God, A Man of the People, and No Longer at Ease.
Achebe’s most recent work was as a professor at Brown Univeristy in Rhode Island.
From the BBC:
His first novel – the groundbreaking Things Fall Apart, published in 1958 – dealt with the clash between Western and traditional African values – and how traditional norms and values had been undermined.
- Born in 1930 – 30 years before Nigeria’s independence
- Referred to as the founding father of African literature
- First novel Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, has sold 10 million copies
- Wrote about the effects of colonialism and corruption
- Later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987)
- Nelson Mandela called him “the writer in whose company the prison walls came down”
- Met his wife Christie Okoli in Lagos. They married in 1961 and had four children
- Involved in a road accident in 1990 which left him partially paralysed
Translated into more than 50 languages, its focus was on the traditions of Igbo society in south-eastern Nigeria, where he grew up