[QODLink]
Africa

Nigeria novelist Achebe dies in Boston

Author of novel "Things Fall Apart" dies at the age of 82 on Friday following a brief illness.
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2013 21:27
Nelson Mandela has called Achebe a writer "in whose company the prison walls fell down" [AFP]

Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, widely seen as the grandfather of modern African literature, has died at the age of 82.

The statesman, dissident and author of the novel "Things Fall Apart" died on Friday following a brief illness, said Andrew Wylie, Achebe's agent

Achebe's death in Boston was confirmed by Brown University, where he taught.

Literary critics have compared Achebe's eminence worldwide to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison and a handful of other writers.

Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, described Achebe as a "colossus of African writing", expressing sadness at his death.

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and an icon of the Apartheid era, has called him a writer "in whose company the prison walls fell down".

The pain at Achebe's death was felt across Nigeria, and particularly in the southeastern homeland of the Igbos.

"Our whole household is crying out in grief," a cousin and traditional chief, Uba Onubon, told Reuters in Ikenga village.

Achebe's "Things Fall Apart", published in 1958, told of his Igbo ethnic group's fatal brush with British colonisers in the 1800s - the first time the story of European colonialism had been told from an African viewpoint to an international audience.

The book was translated into 50 languages and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.

He later turned his sights on the devastation wrought to Nigeria and Africa by military coups and entrenched dictatorship.

"Anthills of the Savannah," published in 1987, is set after a coup in a fictional African country, where power has corrupted and state brutality silenced all but the most courageous.

Literary void

Born at Ogidi in southeast Nigeria on Nov. 16, 1930, Achebe was the son of a Christian evangelist.

He went to mission schools and to University College, Ibadan, and taught briefly before joining the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, where he was director of external broadcasting from 1961 to 1966.

When his homeland broke away from Nigeria in a disastrous bid for independence, Achebe launched a publishing company in Enugu, capital of the self-declared republic of Biafra.

After the war, which cost a million lives along with Biafra's hopes of statehood, Achebe returned to Enugu to teach at the nearby Nsukka University.

In 1972 he moved to Massachusetts and since then spent much of his time in the United States, with occasional spells in Nigeria. His last post was at Brown University in Rhode Island.

Through tears, Dora Akunyili, a former government minister and friend, said Achebe's death "leaves a void in Nigeria, Africa and globally".

Although Achebe never won the Nobel literature prize like fellow Nigerian Wole Soyinka his works won praise for their vivid portrayal of African realities and their accessibility.

His contribution was recognised when he won The Man Booker International Prize in 2007.

"Professor Achebe will live forever in the hearts and minds of present and future generations through his great works," Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria, said in a statement.

483

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.