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A Great Tree Has Fallen: Words of Chinua Achebe Essay

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Chinua Achebe
"Imaginative literature … does not enslave; it liberates the mind of man. Its truth is not like the canons of orthodoxy or the irrationality of prejudice and superstition. It begins as an adventure in self-discovery and ends in wisdom and humane conscience." “The Truth of Fiction” in Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays 1988
In the mid 20th century Africa was once more starting to find its own voice, having been gagged by centuries of colonial oppression. For all that time the story of Africa had been told by Europeans, and the narrative they presented was a shoddy one. The black man; if in fact a brother was certainly at most a junior sibling. As such, when Africa did eventually open its own mouth to speak, the rest the world were expecting little more than primitive imitation. Instead they were met with the devastatingly eloquence of Chinua Achebe.
Known as the father of modern African literature, the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe is the most read African author with books translated into 50 languages. His style of writing, though novel for English literature, is well rooted in the oral tradition of the Igbo people. And though his stories are set amongst the turmoil of colonial and postcolonial Africa, they remain stories intimately character driven. Character stories, usually tragic, but vitally universal.
Throughout his life, Chinua spoke out against the corruption and moral failings of colonial and postcolonial governments alike. In his essays and academic work he has labored to undo the worst of colonial legacy and rehabilitate the cultural identities and heritage of Africa. Chinua Achebe presents but one of an ever growing stream of refutations against that most hopelessly naive moniker: the Dark Conti...


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...nturies of both its resources and its people; a continent dived by borders that suited foreign powers, leaving nothing but volatile power vacuums. Those who did somehow manage to receive an education were taught that their heritage and they themselves were inferior. Despite everything Africa has endured, there remains hope. Some form of stability is establishing itself in an increasing number of regions, including Nigeria, with Lagos becoming an economic powerhouse in West Africa. Across the continent more and more economic development projects are being funded by African banks.
Chinua Achebe’s life’s work was to bring about a balance of stories. Achebe went to school to read books only by authors like Shakespeare and Dickens. Today millions of children go to school to read books by Chinua Achebe. Today Africans are telling their story.
Chinua Achebe 1930-2013



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