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Thousands mourn celebrated Nigerian writer

Chinua Achebe, author of widely praised Things Fall Apart, buried in his hometown two months after his death in the US.

Last Modified: 23 May 2013 12:42
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Chinua Achebe was a harsh critic of Nigeria's rampant corruption and twice refused national awards [AFP]

The funeral of Nigeria's celebrated writer, Chinua Achebe, has been held in his small hometown in a ceremony that drew crowds of mourners.

Achebe, author of the widely praised novel Things Fall Apart, was buried on Thursday, two months after he died in the US aged 82.

His private burial on the family compound followed a service at a local Anglican church.

"The death of my uncle is indeed a great loss not only to the family but to Nigeria and Africa as a whole," 64-year-old Obi Achebe said at the compound on Wednesday evening.

"He has left big shoes that will be difficult to be worn by anybody."

Viewed as an iconic figure in Nigeria and abroad, his death led to tributes worldwide.

Nigerian leaders, foreign dignitaries, fellow writers and the Archbishop of Canterbury were expected to be among those arriving in the town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria to pay tribute to Achebe, according to the AFP newsagency.

Achebe was a harsh critic of Nigeria's rampant corruption and twice refused national awards.

Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's president, was nevertheless expected to attend the service, according to a source in the presidency.

Decorated with posters

Ogidi, located in Nigeria's Anambra state, was decorated with posters of Achebe, while police were stationed throughout the town.

A wake was held inside the family compound on Wednesday evening as crowds gathered in the streets.

Achebe had lived and worked as a professor in the US in recent years, most recently at Brown University in Rhode Island.

A 1990 car accident left him in a wheelchair and limited his travel.

Tributes continued to pour in on Wednesday in advance of the burial. Nigeria's Guardian newspaper dedicated an entire page to a poem written for Achebe by Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian writer and Nobel literature laureate.

Some 2,000 people packed a stadium in the Anambra state capital, Awka, on Wednesday where Achebe's coffin was put on display.

While he was known worldwide mostly for Things Fall Apart a novel about the collision of British colonialism and his native Igbo culture in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe also wrote non-fiction that tackled his country's problems.

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