Writer Review: Chinua Achebe

Birth: Chinua Achebe (Also Known as Chinua Chinualumogu Achebe) was a Nigerian Author, born in the village of Ogidi, Nigeria (1930). Chinua Achebe was raised by parent converted to the newly introduced Christian religion at the time. He grew up around a culture of story-telling, where elders in his environment were constantly telling stories. This greatly influenced his later style of writing, which borrowed heavily from Oral literature/tradition and altered the form of language in his writing, to communicate the authentic African experience (‘Igbonised’ English).

Chinua AchebeEducation: Achebe got the opportunity to attend missionary schools, where he performed well and in an exemplary manner. At an early age, he enrolled at St. Phillips Central School, where he quickly moved up the academic levels due to his outstanding academic performance. He thereafter proceeded with his secondary school education after joining the Dennis Memorial Grammar School and later on the Government College, which required high academic performance as a requirement for admission.

Achebe attended the University of Ibadan (in Nigeria) after receiving a scholarship to study medicine at the Institution of higher learning. While at the University, Achebe enrolled for different subjects, which resulted to loss of scholarship. He however managed to finance his University education to completion. It was while a student at the University of Ibadan that his writing career began to take shape. He interacted with some of the great world writers (through books) and began to have doubts regarding the popularly up-held imperialist views regarding African culture. Achebe’s reality of the African culture was not similar to that reflected by the colonial educational approach.

The need to create an impression of the African culture he knew (not the one proposed by the colonial masters, propelled Achebe to start writing about the African culture).

Honors and Awards: In the course of his writing career, Chinua Achebe was popularly hailed as the father of African Literature. He is acknowledge as having paved the way for many more African writers and additionally influenced the course of writing African Literature, through his published literary works. In the timeline of his writing career, Achebe was a recipient of numerous honors and awards, including:

    > Margaret Wrong Memorial Prize (1959)
    > Rockefeller travel fellowship to East and Central Africa (1960)
    > Nigerian National Trophy (1961)
    > UNESCO fellowship for creative artists for travel to the United States and Brazil (1963)
    > Jock Campbell/ New Statesman Award (1965)
    > Commonwealth Poetry Prize (1972)
    > Neil Gunn International Fellow, Scottish Arts Council (1975)
    > Lotus Award for Afro-Asian Writers (1975)
    > Nigerian National Merit Award (1979)
    > Commonwealth Foundation senior visiting practitioner award (1984)
    > Booker Prize nomination (1987)

Published Works: Since his University years up to his retirement, Chinua Achebe remained actively involved in the creation and writing of literary works. His debut novel was Things Fall Apart (1958), which remains a world acclaimed novel and recommendation in academia circles. The novel has enjoyed international recognition for a number of past decades. Other works written and published by Chinua Achebe include:

Marriage Is A Private Affair (1952); Dead Men’s Path (1953); No Longer at Ease (1960); Arrow of God (1964); A Man of the People (1966); Civil Peace (1971); Beware, Soul-Brother, and Other Poems (1971); An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” (1975); The Trouble with Nigeria (1984); Anthills of the Savannah (1987); Hopes and Impediments (1988); Another Africa (1998); Home and Exile (2000); There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra (2012).