Professor Achebe writes his novels in English and has defended the use of English, a “language of colonizers”, in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” became the focus of controversy, for its criticism of Joseph Conrad as “a bloody racist”. When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a devoted supporter of Biafra independence and served as ambassador for the people of the new nation.
The war ravaged the populace, and as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the people of Europe and the Americas for aid. When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, he involved himself in political parties but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed. He lived in the United States for several years in the 1970s, and returned to the U.S. in 1990 after a car accident left him partially disabled.
Professor Achebe’s novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He has also published a number of short stories, children’s books, and essay collections.
Though Professor Achebe spent his later decades teaching at American universities, most recently at Brown, his writings — novels, stories, poems, essays and memoirs — were almost invariably rooted in the countryside and cities of his native Nigeria. His most memorable fictional characters were buffeted and bewildered by the competing pulls of traditional African culture and invasive Western values.
Achebe died at age 82 following a brief illness on Thursday, 22nd day of March, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
- Apr 10, 2013:
Senate of New York State, USA has passed a resolution
J1186-2013: Mourning the death of paramount novelist Chinua Achebe, founder and pioneer of African literature
Sponsor: Parker J1186-2013 Actions
LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION mourning the death of paramount novelist Chinua Achebe, founder and pioneer of African literature
WHEREAS, It is the sense of this Legislative Body to pay tribute to the lives of those esteemed individuals of international renown who distin guished themselves through their life's work; and WHEREAS, Foremost novelist, Professor Chinua Achebe, died on Thursday, March 21, 2013, at the age of 82; and
WHEREAS, Born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, on November 16, 1930, Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic; he was best known for his 1958 novel, THINGS FALL APART, selling over 12 million copies around the world, and having been translated into 50 languages, making him the most paraphrased African writer of all time; and
WHEREAS, Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeast ern Nigeria, Chinua Achebe excelled academically and earned a scholar ship for undergraduate studies; he became fascinated with world reli gions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a college student; and
WHEREAS, After graduation, Chinua Achebe worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos; he gained worldwide attention for THINGS FALL APART; his later novels include: NO LONGER AT EASE (1960), ARROW OF GOD (1964), A MAN OF THE PEOPLE (1966), and ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH (1987); and
WHEREAS, When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Chinua Achebe became a supporter of Biafran independence and acted as ambassador for the people of the new nation; the war ravaged the popu lace, and as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the people of Europe and the Americas for assistance; and
WHEREAS, When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, Chin ua Achebe involved himself in political parties, but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed, thereby deciding to devote himself to academia; he lived in the United States for several years in the 1970s, and returned there in 1990 after a car accident left him partially disabled; and
WHEREAS, Chinua Achebe's novels focus on the traditions of Igbo socie ty, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era; his style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory; he also published a number of short stories, children's books, and essay collections; and
WHEREAS, A David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Profes sor of Africana Studies at Brown University, Chinua Achebe worked up until the time of his death; and WHEREAS, New York's Bard College, with a distinguished history of supporting Chinua Achebe's work and legacy, will continue to be a prima ry home for his projects; and
WHEREAS, Professor Achebe's global significance lies not only in his talent and recognition as a writer, but also as a critical thinker and essayist who has written extensively on questions of the role of culture in Africa along with the social and political significance of aesthetics and analysis of the postcolonial state in Africa; and
WHEREAS, Chinua Achebe distinguished himself in his profession and by his sincere dedication and substantial contribution to the welfare of his community; and
WHEREAS, Chinua Achebe's commitment to excellence, and his spirit of humanity, carried over into all fields of enterprise, including charita ble and civic endeavors; and
WHEREAS, Chinua Achebe is survived by his wife, Christie, their chil dren, Chinelo, Ikechukwu, Chidi, and Nwando as well as his grandchil dren, Chochi, Chino, Chidera, C.J. (Chinua Jr.), Nnamdi and Zeal; and WHEREAS, Armed with a humanistic spirit and imbued with a sense of compassion, Chinua Achebe leaves behind a legacy which will long endure the passage of time and will remain as a comforting memory to all he served and befriended; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to mourn the death of paramount novelist Chinua Achebe, founder and pioneer of African literature; and be it further RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be tran smitted to the family of Chinua Achebe.