Chinua Achebe, the literary genius and founding figure of the African literature of the 20th century, would have turned 87 today, on November 16. In addition to celebrations of his achievements all over the world, Chinua Achebe is also featured on today’s Google Doodle. Find out more about the works and history of Chinua Achebe right now!
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1. Chinua Achebe biography
Chinua Achebe, was born in an Igbo village Ogidi on November 16, 1930, to parents who had five more children. At birth, he was given the name of Chinualumogu, which he later abbreviated. Storytelling was one of the family’s strongest traditions, and Chinua grew up listening to fascinating stories told by his parents and older siblings.
Chinua Achebe began his education at the age of 6. When he turned 12, he moved away from the family to continue his studies. He excelled at every school he attended, and in 1948 he enrolled in Nigeria’s first university, now known as the University of Ibadan. While the future writer was still a student, the world saw the first Chinua Achebe short stories, which were inspired by his classmates.
After graduating, Achebe worked as a teacher for a short period of time before joining a radio station as a scriptwriter. He continued to write, and in 1958 his best-known work, Things Fall Apart, was finally published and became a huge success in Nigeria and overseas. From there, Chinua continued to write and publish books.
The writer also led a happy family life: in 1961 he married his coworker Christie Okoli. Together they had two sons and two daughters. Chinua Achebe continued to write and publish his works until his death in 2013 at the age of 82 from a short illness. Chinua Achebe books continue to be celebrated all over the world.
2. Chinua Achebe facts and themes
One of the features of Achebe’s writing style that helped him achieve international recognition was his ability to weave his native culture into modern storytelling. Folk stories, proverbs, traditions, and festivities of Nigeria and especially Igbo people are masterfully included in his writing.
So, what themes are characterized in the work of Chinua Achebe? The most important theme featured in every work of Chinua Achebe is how old and modern co-exist in today’s Nigeria. However, he repeatedly refused to choose new over old or old over new – according to him, there was no right answer to this issue, and the truth is a personal concept.
It’s clear that writing occupied a major part of Achebe’s life, but what is African literature according to Chinua Achebe exactly? The writer answered this question with a book called African Literature as Celebration: Reflections of a Novelist, which offers a deep insight into how culture and literature in Africa are closely connected.
Over the years there have been numerous Chinua Achebe literary awards that recognized the author’s talent and achievements in literature. He got his first award, the Margaret Wong Memorial Prize, in 1959. There were also the 1974 Commonwealth Poetry Prize, 1987 Booker Prize for Fiction, and the last one – the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
3. Chinua Achebe quotes
Over decades of hard work, Chinua Achebe has produced dozens of touching, thought-provoking, and incredibly wise thoughts. Here are the 5 must-know ones:
Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am – and what I need – is something I have to find out myself.
People say that if you find water rising up to your ankle, that’s the time to do something about it, not when it’s around your neck.
Become familiar with your home, but know also about your neighbours. The young man who never went anywhere thinks his mother is the greatest cook.
If you only hear one side of the story, you have no understanding at all.The damage done in one year can sometimes take ten or twenty years to repair.
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