It’s a sad day indeed for Nigeria, for Africa and for the whole world on the news of Chinua Achebe’s passing.
I just commented on twitter the other day on how the immortal words: All things fall apart has popped up in my head intermittently ever since I studied the book in English class – that was 10 years ago. Partly because my teacher, Mrs Nelson, was so passionate about it, she recited the words over and over, until something clicked with and the whole class collectively began to understand the inevitable consequences of colonialism within the text. However it was a term that applied to life in general, at church our priest would recite these words whenever he wanted to make a point about the importance of community and forward positive thinking.
If memory serves me right, I wasn’t a fan of the protagonist, Okonkwo, at all. He was ignorant, brash and unwilling to open his mind and think laterally; now I think – why should he? When everything he knew and loved was being compromised and tainted by things he did not understand. I have to say I kept a copy with the intention of reading it again now that I am older. I think I’ll enjoy it more.
It may have been the only book of his I have read, but it certainly made an impact on me. First of all, to study an author who was an African? to study a very important book in African literature history? I never knew it existed and it opened me up to more authors outside of the UK and American ones I’d been used to thinking were the be all. I also learned how to appreciate the art of combining real historic events as part of fiction; it spurred me on to do some research and as a result I became more familiar with my history of my country. Along with Wole Soykinka, Achebe has no doubt inspired young authors such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith and Taiye Selasi with their works. Me too.
Rest In Peace Father Achebe. Through your work you have done more for the world than you may know and isn’t that a wonderful thing to try to comprehend?