The author who brought Africa to the world

Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart, dies at 82

Chinua Achebe, the world-renowned Nigerian author and academic, seen by many as the greatest modern African writer, has died at the age of 82. He will be best remembered as the author of the novel Things Fall Apart, published in 1958 to world-wide success when he was just 28. With much of the continent still under colonial rule, Things Fall Apart was groundbreaking in its critique of the scramble for Africa and its depiction of Africans as real and complex characters, torn apart and brutalised by European conquest. The first international bestseller by an African writer, the book has sold more than 10 million copies around the globe (The Folio Society was proud to publish an edition in 2008) and remains profoundly important in Nigerian and African identity - forming part of school syllabuses across the continent. Achebe said of the book 'this was the first time we were seeing ourselves, as autonomous individuals, rather than half-people'.

He went on to write five more novels and numerous short story collections but he was also an influential political commentator at a time when politics in his native Nigeria was a dangerous profession. He supported the Biafran independence movement during the Nigerian Civil War and throughout his life was fearlessly involved in numerous political causes across Africa (he once found himself in the 'whites-only' section of a bus in the then-segregated Southern Rhodesia - when asked to move he refused, stating 'I am from Nigeria, and there we sit where we like in the bus' to resounding cheers from the 'blacks-only' section).

His writings have drawn praise from across the world. Margaret Atwood called him 'a magical writer - one of the greatest of the 20th century', and Nelson Mandela, who read his works whilst in prison, has said he 'brought Africa to the rest of the world'’ and referred to Achebe as a writer 'in whose company the prison walls fell down'.

To read more about Achebe's life and achievements click here.

last modified: Tue, Mar 26th 2013Bookmark and Share
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