It is a common knowledge that we agree to disagree in life as you do not have to agree with Chinua Achebe, as many of us, young and old disagreed with him but literary icon Achebe is the literary juggernaut that he was, the real winner of the Noble Prize in African Literature in the court of public opinion.
Sequel to an unpopular opinion held by a Nigerian Writer and Filmmaker Onyeka Nwelue which he recently shared in an interview with Premium Times Correspondent Wealth Ominabo Dickson that “Achebe “Things Fall Apart” is not the Great African Novel”,
“I will still stand by what I said. I won’t change it.” Achebe’s own even gets worse every day when people mention his name. I think Things Fall Apart should be buried and never made to resurrect. Yes, Anthills of the Savannah is a very beautiful book; it’s well written.
But I don’t agree with Things Fall Apart being called the great African novel by everybody. There are better books. If you’ve read Things Fall Apart and have read what young people write these days – people like Helen Oyeyemi, Diekoye Oyeyinka and Chigoize Obioma – you would know that Achebe’s writing of Things Fall Apart at that age was not intelligent; he was not exposed”. Onyeka added.
I have decided to collate some findings I made on the popular and general views of many scholars locally and internationally on the contributions and impacts Achebe’s prowess with the pen has had on literature, life, business, politics and the world at large.
“Achebe was a mentor and role model to a generation of African writers — he’s often referred to as the father of modern African writing. But like many novelists who find success with an early book, Achebe found himself almost solely defined by “Things Fall Apart.” He spent the last two decades in the United States, teaching at Bard College and then Brown University.
It’s been more than 50 years since the publication of Mr. Achebe’s pioneering and canonical novel; it no longer seems to stand, to a Western audience at any rate, for African writing as a whole. His talent and success have helped spawn an array of postcolonial writing from across the continent. Among the talented young Nigerian writers alone who cite him as an influence are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani and Lola Shoneyin”. Excerpt from “Bearing Witness with Words”, an account by Dwight Garner on Achebe.
Award winning Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie extolling the book of Nigerian literary icon Chinua Achebe’s “THINGS FALL APART” is Africa’s most read novel – and arguably most loved – by Africans, a novel published when ‘African novel’ meant European accounts of ‘native’ life. Achebe was an unapologetic member of the generation of African writers who were ‘writing back,’ challenging the stock Western images of their homeland, but his work was not burdened by its intent. It is much-loved not because Achebe wrote back, but because he wrote back well. His work was wise, humorous, human. For many Africans, “THINGS FALL APART” remains a gesture of returned dignity, a literary and an emotional experience; Mandela called Achebe the writer in whose presence the prison walls came down”.
Nigerian writer Tolu Ogunlesi shares his thoughts on Chinua Achebe with CNN after the literary icon’s death “I wonder, too, what Achebe himself might have made of that, in his final moments. I’m trying to imagine what went through his mind in those moments. Would he have pondered, for one last time, on the inauspicious beginnings of his bestselling novel, “Things Fall Apart?” (He once said that Heinemann, the publishers of the debut edition “printed very, very few. It was a risk… It went out of print very quickly.”) Would he have mused on the fact that “Things Fall Apart” never appeared in Igbo, the Nigerian language that fed its style, and rhythms, and that its characters spoke”?
Dr Jibrin “Achebe’s motivation to write was partly political. He was disgusted by the superficial images of an unchanging and static Africa and the racist undertones of certain white anthropologists and writers such as Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and in particular Cary’s “Mister Johnson” that grossly misrepresented the reality of his society. He, therefore, decided to narrate the unfolding and dramatic story of his people. In so doing, politics remained a central aspect of his work:
With varying degrees of emphasis, all of Chinua Achebe’s novels explore the use and abuse of power by those who wield it. In “Things Fall Apart”, Okonkwo’s absolute patriarchal power over his household is analysed. The focus of “Arrow of God” is the religious and social power of Ezeolu, the Chief Priest. “No Longer at Ease” and “A Man of the People” are about bureaucratic power while “Anthills of the Savannah” is about the apparently absolutist power the African dictator tries to wield.
There has been too much myth and propaganda about traditional African political culture. Missionaries, colonial officials and their intellectuals who were also called anthropologists had an interest in portraying the continent as a barbaric and brutal culture characterised by intense intertribal warfare, the murder of twins and barbaric pagan rites”. Excerpts from Dr Jibrin Ibrahim’s “Learn African Politics through Achebe”.