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Profiling Chinua Achebe, The Renowned Nigerian Novelist

Albert Chinalmg Achebe, a Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic, is regarded as a major force in contemporary African literature. He lived from 16 November 1930 to 21 March 2013. His first book, Things Fall Apart (1958), is still the most thoroughly studied, translated, and read African novel and a significant work of African literature. With Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease (1960), and Arrow of God (1964), the so-called “African Trilogy” is complete. Additional works include A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1966). (1987). The term “father of African literature,” which is frequently used to refer to him, was violently repudiated by him.

Early Life and Education

On November 16, 1930, at Saint Simon’s Church in Nneobi, in the Ogidi town of Igbo country, in the Old British Empire of Eastern Nigeria, Chinua Achebe was born. His mother, Janet Anaenechi Iloegbunam, was a prominent figure among church ladies and a grower of vegetables, while his father, Isaiah Okafo Achebe, was a teacher and evangelist. Isaiah was an early Ogidi conversion to Christianity. He was Udoh Osinyi’s nephew, a respected community leader known for his tolerance. The children, especially Chinua, were greatly impacted by the fact that both Isaiah and Janet were at the crossroads of traditional culture and Christian influence.

His parents joined the Protestant Church Mission Society in Nigeria (CMS). As a result, Isaiah stopped practicing the “Odinani” religion of his ancestors, although he continued to appreciate their traditions. Frank Okwuofu, John Chukwuemeka Ifeanyichukwu, Zinobia Uzoma, Augustine Ndubisi, and Grace Nwanneka were the fifth set of children born to the Achebe family. The family moved to Isaiah Achebe’s native town of Ogidi, which is now in the state of Anambra, after the birth of the youngest daughter.

He attended Nekede Central School outside of Owerri in 1942, St. Philip’s Central School in the Akpakaogwe area of Ogidi, and Government College in Umuahia before moving on to the University College (now the University of Ibadan). It belonged to the University of London as an associate college. Achebe received a scholarship to study medicine after being accepted as the university’s first student. Achebe developed a critical eye for European works about Africa while he was a student, especially Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. After reading Joyce Cary’s Mister Johnson, which portrayed its Nigerian characters as either savages or buffoons, he made the decision to become a writer. Achebe acknowledged the author’s lack of cultural awareness in his hatred of the African protagonist.

He gave up practicing medicine to pursue studies in English, history, and religion; this decision cost him his scholarship and resulted in higher tuition costs. In order to make up for this, the government offered a bursary, and his family contributed him money. For example, his older brother Augustine forwent taking a trip home from his job as a civil servant so that Achebe could continue his education. The government provided a bursary and his family gave money to make up for it. For instance, Augustine chose to let Achebe pursue his education over taking a journey home from his job as a public servant.

Career

Achebe briefly taught prior to joining the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in Lagos, where he served as director of external broadcasting from 1961 to 1966. In 1967, he co-founded a publishing firm in Enugu with the poet Christopher Okigbo. Soon later, Okigbo lost his life in the Biafran independence struggle in Nigeria, which Achebe openly backed. In order to offer lectures at universities, Achebe traveled to the United States in 1969 alongside writers Gabriel Okara and Cyprian Ekwensi. Upon his return to Nigeria, he was appointed a research fellow at the University of Nigeria, where he later progressed to the position of professor of English, which he held from 1976 to 1981. (since 1985, emeritus professor).

Beginning in 1970, he oversaw the two Nigerian publishers Heinemann Educational Books Ltd. and Nwankwo-Ifejika Ltd. Following a car accident that left him severely paralyzed in Nigeria in 1990, he relocated to the United States and started teaching at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. In 2009, Achebe left Bard to work as a professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Things Fall Apart by Achebe, published in 1958, is about traditional Igbo life in his home country of Nigeria during the time of missionaries and colonial control. Despite the fact that the old order has already crumbled, his main character is unable to accept the new one. In the 1960 sequel No Longer at Ease, he portrayed a recently hired government employee who had just returned from studying abroad in England and who struggled to keep the moral standards he considered to be reasonable in the face of the demands and temptations of his new position.

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In the movie Arrow of God (1964), the main character, whose son becomes a devoted Christian and is set in the 1920s in a society ruled by the British, uses his rage at the position the white man has placed him in against his own people. Both A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1973) examine corruption as well as other aspects of postcolonial African society (1987).

Achebe also co-wrote How the Leopard Got His Claws (1973) with John Iroaganachi, one of several children’s books and anthologies of short stories. There are also movies like Beware, Soul-Brother (1971), and Christmas in Biafra (1973). In Another Africa, Achebe’s images are combined with an essay, poems, and photos (1998). Achebe published numerous pieces, including Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975), Hopes and Impediments (1988), Home and Exile (2000), The Education of a British-Protected Child (2009), and There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra (2012). In 2007, he was awarded the Man Booker International Prize.

Teaching Strides

In addition to his writing career, Achebe pursued a prosperous teaching career. In 1972, he was given a three-year visiting professorship at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and in 1975, he was given a one-year visiting professorship at the University of Connecticut. He returned as an English professor to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he had been affiliated since 1966, once situations in Nigeria were stable enough in 1976. At Annandale, New York’s Bard College, he was appointed the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr., professor of literature in 1990.

Political Crises

Between 1966 and 1972, Achebe went through as much turmoil as Nigeria did. Young Igbo officers in the Nigerian army staged a coup d’état in 1966. Six months later, a second revolution led by non-Igbo officers overthrew the Igbo-dominated government. They decided to target Achebe because they understood that his views were opposed to the new administration. Achebe fled to Nsukka in eastern Nigeria, a city with a large Igbo population, and finally accepted a senior research fellow job at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

In 1967, Eastern Nigeria proclaimed itself the nation of Biafra. This incident sparked a civil war that raged for thirty months and was finally put an end to by Biafra’s defeat. Achebe traveled to Europe and America after leaving Africa, where he wrote and lectured about Biafran issues.

Personal Life

On September 10, 1961, Achebe and Christie were wed in the Chapel of Resurrection on the campus of the University of Ibadan. On July 11, 1962, a daughter named Chinelo was born, becoming their first child. After that, they welcomed two more boys: Chidi on May 24, 1967, and Ikechukwu on December 3, 1964.

Due to the predominantly white teachers and literature that provided a stereotypical perspective of African life, the parents of the children who started attending school in Lagos began to be concerned about the worldview—particularly in terms of race—expressed there. Achebe released Chike and the River, his first children’s book, in 1966 in an effort to allay some of these concerns. At the age of 82, Achebe passed away in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 21, 2013.

Legacy 

Achebe passed away on March 21, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts, following a brief illness. He is recognized with changing the direction of world literature by using African perspectives to depict the effects of European colonization. His decision to write exclusively in English drew some criticism, but his intention was to enlighten people all over the world of the real problems that Western missionaries and colonialists had brought about in Africa.

Achebe won the Man Booker International Prize in 2007 for his lifetime’s work, and he has also been awarded more than 30 honorary doctorates. He persisted in criticizing dishonest Nigerian officials and anyone else who misappropriated or mismanaged the nation’s oil resources. In addition to being a successful novelist himself, he was a passionate and active supporter of Nigerian writers.

Publications

  • 2010: The Education of a British-Protected Child
  • 2005: Collected Poems
  • 2000: Home and Exile
  • 1992: The Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories
  • 1988: Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays
  • 1987: Anthills of the Savannah
  • 1984: African Short Stories
  • 1984: The Trouble with Nigeria
  • 1977: The Drum
  • 1977: The Flute
  • 1975: Morning Yet on Creation Day
  • 1972: How the Leopard Got His Claws
  • 1972: Girls at War and other stories
  • 1971: Beware, Soul Brother and Other Poems
  • 1966: A Man of the People
  • 1966: Chike and the River
  • 1964: Arrow of God
  • 1960: No Longer At Ease
  • 1958: Things Fall Apart

Awards and Nominations

  • 2010: Dayton Literary Peace Prize (US)
  • 2010: Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize
  • 2007: Man Booker International Prize
  • 2002: German Booksellers Peace Prize
  • 1996: Campion Award (US).
  • 1987: Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist)
  • 1975: Lotus Award for Afro-Asian Writers
  • 1974: Commonwealth Poetry Prize
  • 1964: New Statesman Jock Campbell Award for Commonwealth Writers
  • 1959: Margaret Wong Memorial Prize

Net Worth

His net worth was unknown before his death.

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Written by PH

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