Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian author recognised as the father of modern African literature has died, aged 82.
African papers first reported the news; with an unnamed source stating that his death followed a period of illness and a hospital stay. His British publisher Penguin Books later confirmed his passing and Simon Winder, the company’s publishing director, called him an “utterly remarkable man”.
Achebe authored over 20 books, and received a number of accolades including the 2007 Man Booker International Prize for Fiction in addition to numerous honorary degrees in various countries. His first novel “Things Fall Apart” is considered his magnum opus, and is the most widely read book in modern African literature, also providing the title for The Roots’ fourth album.
“Things Fall Apart”, set in pre-colonial Nigeria, tells the story of Okonkwo, a famed clan leader who struggles to protect his traditions amidst rising pressure from colonisers. The book is considered a pivotal milestone in African literature, and went on to become required reading in schools across the continent, featuring in a number of literary courses around the world.
Achebe’s novels tackled a number of multifaceted issues, from the importance of African values, to the effects of colonisation, giving them even more prominence. Outside of his novels, the poet also criticised corruption and spurned the Nigerian government’s attempts to name him a Commander of the Federal Republic in protest of political issues.
R.I.P. Chinua Achebe (16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013)