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CHINUA ACHEBE - Reward for Determination and Focus.

 
Chinua Achebe.    www.adrianpastol.com
Probably the greatest writer of his time, the man whose works especially his first novel "Things fall apart" (the patriarch of the African novel.)will forever remain legendary, and his ideas and visions which I must state were not always politically supported were factual, strong and pure. The great man and writer of the most widely read book in modern African literature, Albert Chinualumogu Achebe. 
Chinua Achebe.    www.adrianpastol.com

He was born on the 16th of November 1930 and in the Igbo village of Ogidi in eastern Nigeria. He died on the 21st of March 2013 at Boston, Massachusetts, United States, aged 82years. 

Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. attended the University of Ibadan. In 1958 on scholarship to study medicine. After a year of grueling work, he changed to English, history, and theology. Because he switched his field, however, he lost his scholarship and had to pay tuition fees. He received a government bursary, and his family also donated money – his older brother Augustine gave up money for a trip home from his job as a civil servant so Chinua could continue his studies. From its inception, the university had a strong English faculty; it includes many famous writers amongst its alumni. These include Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, novelist Elechi Amadi, poet and playwright John Pepper Clark, and poet Christopher Okigbo., He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; 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). Achebe wrote his novels in English and defended the use of English, a "language of colonisers", in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" featured a famous criticism of Joseph Conrad as "a thorough going racist"; it was later published in The Massachusetts Review amid some controversy. Before his death his last both was "There was a Country" which gained great political and social publicity. 
Chinua Achebe     www.adrianpastol.com

Back in Nigeria, Achebe set to work revising and editing his novel (now titled Things Fall Apart, after a line in the poem "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats). He cut away the second and third sections of the book, leaving only the story of a yam farmer named Okonkwo who lives during the colonization of Nigeria. He added sections, improved various chapters, and restructured the prose. By 1957, he had sculpted it to his liking, and took advantage of an advertisement offering a typing service. He sent his only copy of his handwritten manuscript (along with the ₤22 fee) to the London company. After he waited several months without receiving any communication from the typing service, Achebe began to worry. His boss at the NBS, Angela Beattie, was going to London for her annual leave; he asked her to visit the company. She did, and angrily demanded to know why it was lying ignored in the corner of the office. The company quickly sent a typed copy to Achebe. Beattie's intervention was crucial for his ability to continue as a writer. Had the novel been lost, he later said, "I would have been so discouraged that I would probably have given up altogether."
Things fall apart. www.adrianpastol.com
In 1958, Achebe sent his novel to the agent recommended by Gilbert Phelps in London. It was sent to several publishing houses; some rejected it immediately, claiming that fiction from African writers had no market potential. Finally it reached the office of Heinemann, where executives hesitated until an educational adviser, Donald MacRae – just back in England after a trip through west Africa read the book and forced the company's hand with his succinct report: "This is the best novel I have read since the war".
Heinemann published 2,000 hardcover copies of Things Fall Apart on 17 June 1958. According to Alan Hill, employed by the publisher at the time, the company did not "touch a word of it" in preparation for release. The book was received well by the British press, and received positive reviews from critic Walter Allen and novelist Angus Wilson. Three days after publication, The Times Literary Supplement wrote that the book "genuinely succeeds in presenting tribal life from the inside". The Observer called it "an excellent novel", and the literary magazine Time and Tide said that "Mr. Achebe's style is a model for aspirants" 
Things Fall Apart went on to become one of the most important books in African literature. Selling over 8 million copies around the world, it was translated into 50 languages, making Achebe the most translated African writer of all time.
 
In the same year Things Fall Apart was published, Achebe was promoted at the NBS and put in charge of the network's eastern region coverage. He moved to Enugu where he met his wife to be, by name Christie Okoli, they grew closer in the following years, and on 10 September 1961 they were married in the Chapel of Resurrection on the campus of the University of Ibadan. Christie Achebe has described their marriage as one of trust and mutual understanding; some tension arose early in their union, due to conflicts about attention and communication. However, as their relationship matured, husband and wife made efforts to adapt to one another.

Chinua Achebe and family
Their first child, a daughter named Chinelo, was born on 11 July 1962. They had a son, Ikechukwu, on 3 December 1964, and another boy named Chidi, on 24 May 1967. When the children began attending school in Lagos, their parents became worried about the world view – especially with regard to race – expressed at the school, especially through the mostly white teachers and books that presented a prejudiced view of African life. In 1966, Achebe published his first children's book, Chike and the River, to address some of these concerns. After the Biafran War, the Achebes had another daughter on 7 March 1970, named Nwando. When asked about his family Achebe stated: "There are few things more important than my family." They have six grandchildren: Chochi, Chino, Chidera, C.J. (Chinua Jr.), Nnamdi and Zeal.
 
Chinua Achebe www.adrianpastol.com
In May 1967, the southeastern region of Nigeria broke away to form the Republic of Biafra; in July the Nigerian military attacked to suppress what it considered an unlawful rebellion. Achebe's house was bombed one afternoon; Christie had taken the children to visit her sick mother, so the only victims were his books and papers. The Achebe family narrowly escaped disaster several times during the war. Achebe played active role in support of Biafra during the war, In October of the same year, Achebe joined writers Cyprian Ekwensi and Gabriel Okara for a tour of the United States to raise awareness about the dire situation in Biafra. They visited thirty college campuses and conducted countless interviews. While in the southern US, Achebe learned for the first time of the Igbo Landing, a true story of a group of Igbo captives who drowned themselves in 1803 – rather than endure the brutality of slavery – after surviving through the Middle Passage. Although the group was well received by students and faculty, Achebe was "shocked" by the harsh racist attitude toward Africa he saw in the US. At the end of the tour, he said that "world policy is absolutely ruthless and unfeeling"

When he returned to the University of Kenya in 1976, he hoped to accomplish three goals: finish the novel he had been writing, renew the native publication of Okike, and further his study of Igbo culture. He also showed that he would not restrict his criticism to European targets. In an August 1976 interview, he lashed out at the archetypal Nigerian intellectual, who is divorced from the intellect "but for two things: status and stomach. And if there's any danger that he might suffer official displeasure or lose his job, he would prefer to turn a blind eye to what is happening around him." In October 1979, Achebe was awarded the first-ever Nigerian National Merit Award.

In October 2005, the London Financial Times reported that Achebe was planning to write a novella for the Canongate Myth Series, a series of short novels in which ancient myths from myriad cultures are reimagined and rewritten by contemporary authors. Achebe's novella has not yet been scheduled for publication.
In June 2007, Achebe was awarded the Man Booker International Prize. The judging panel included US critic Elaine Showalter, who said he "illuminated the path for writers around the world seeking new words and forms for new realities and societies"; and South African writer Nadine Gordimer, who said Achebe has achieved "what one of his characters brilliantly defines as the writer's purpose: 'a new-found utterance' for the capture of life's complexity". In 2010, Achebe was awarded The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for $300,000, one of the richest prizes for the arts.
In October 2012, Achebe's publishers, Penguin Books, released There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra. Publication immediately caused a stir and re-opened the discussion about the Nigerian Civil War. It would prove to be the last publication during his lifetime.
Fondly called the "grandfather of Nigerian literature", Achebe died after a short illness on 21 March 2013 in Boston, United States. An unidentified source close to the family said that he was ill for a while and had been hospitalized in the city. Penguin publishing director Simon Winder said: "...we are all desolate to hear of his death." The New York Times described him in his obituary as "one of Africa's most widely read novelists and one of the continent's towering men of letters". The BBC wrote that he was "revered throughout the world for his depiction of life in Africa" 

Achebe's story is one that depletes a man who knew what he stood for and never weakened. He was focus, courageous, determine and strong. He was a great man.


 

Quick Facts

  • NAME: Chinua Achebe
  • OCCUPATION: Educator, Publisher, Author
  • BIRTH DATE: November 16, 1930
  • DEATH DATE: March 21, 2013
  • EDUCATION: University of Ibadan
  • PLACE OF BIRTH: Ogidi, Anambra, Nigeria
  • PLACE OF DEATH: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Full Name: Albert Chinualumogu Achebe
  • AKA: Albert Achebe
  • AKA: Chinua Achebe

Best Known For

Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian novelist and author of Things Fall Apart, a work that in part led to his being called the "patriarch of the African novel."
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