A writer on values who was also a man of action

Published: 01st April 2013 07:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st April 2013 07:18 AM   |  A+A-

While twice rejecting the Nigerian government’s offer of an award of national honour, Chinua Achebe had expressed his  “alarm and dismay” over the state of affairs in his country. The famous author, who died recently, particularly referred to the chaotic conditions in his home state of Anambra where “a small clique of renegades (was) openly boasting of its connections in high places”.  Achebe’s despondency was understandable because in a book published three decades before his death, he depicted “trouble” as “simply and squarely a failure of leadership”.

His sorrow was the same as that of another Nigerian, Wole Soyinka, who moaned that today’s Nigeria was not what was “envisaged when we struggled for independence.” Like many Indians, including R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand and several present-day celebrities, Achebe wrote in English although it was the language of “colonisers”. From his difficulties with the language, he turned to the colonisers themselves. His most celebrated comment was the description of Joseph Conrad, the author of the Heart of Darkness, as a “bloody racist”, for portraying Africa as a “metaphysical battlefield devoid of all humanity”. 

As his trilogy, his magnum opus Things Fall Apart (1958), No Longer At Ease (1960) and Arrow of God (1964) captivated the world, the Father of African Literature, who was wheelchair-bound in his later years, continued to be an inspiration to his countrymen and others who have had the dispiriting colonial experience in Asia and Africa. Achebe wasn’t only a writer who was closeted in his secluded study, for he supported the cause of Biafra’s separation from Nigeria when the region  broke away in 1967. Along with noting the clash of Western and African cultural values, he was also a man of action.

Stay up to date on all the latest Editorials news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp