The Life of Chinua Achebe

Albert Chinualumgu Achebe best known as Chinua Achebe is a renowned critic, poet and novelist of Nigeria. Chinua Achebe is famous for his exceptional novel Things Fall Apart published in 1958. This book is a staple book in the schools throughout Africa and is studied in almost all English speaking countries round the globe.

Chinua Achebe was born on 16th November, 1930 in Igbo, village of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria. Achebe was raised by his Protestant parents. Achebe was academically very sound and won many scholarships during his undergraduate years. In 1936 Chinua Achebe was enrolled to St Philips Central School where he soon impressed his teachers by virtue of academic exellence. In 1948 Achebe joined first Nigerian University College that was affiliated to the college of London in order to pursue higher studies. Achebe scored high marks in the entrance examination of the university and was consequently offered admission directly as a Major Scholar.

Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe was fascinated by the traditions of African culture and world religion. Achebe started story writing when he was studding at the university. Achebe in 1953 taught English in a school for a very brief tenure. Later on in 1954 he moved to Lagos after completing his graduation to work in Nigerian Broadcasting Service. Achebe while working in NBS met Christie Okoli who was also working with NBS. Their relationship developed and they married in 1953. They had three children, a daughter Chinelo born in 1962, elder son Ikechukwu born in 1964, and Chidi the youngest, born in 1967.

Achebe’s first short story was In a Village Church in which he narrated the rural life and Christian institutions of Nigeria. Other popular short stories like “The Old Order in Conflict with the New” and “Dead Men’s Path” were written by Achebe while he was studying at the university. Things Fall Apart was Achebe’s first published novel that readers witnessed in 1958, the book received accolades from all corners of the world. In subsequent years Chinua Achebe wrote novels including No Longer at Ease in 1960, Arrow of God in 1964, A Man of the People in 1966, and Anthills of the Savannah in 1987 and many other books which became equally popular. Chinua Achebe is also called “the father of modern African writing”.

An Image of Africa: Racism in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” is a lecture given by Chinua Achebe at the University of Massachusetts, in 1975. The lecture was published and became controversial for its criticism of Joseph Conrad as racist. Later on Achebe decided to join in the politics of Nigeria. In 1967 when Biafra became an independent state Achebe served as the ambassador and was supporting for the independence of the new nation. Achebe requested for aid from America and Europe for this state. But in 1970 Nigerian government again took the region and Achebe got involved with prevailing political parties. Soon Achebe was frustrated by elitism and corruption and resigned from politics. Achebe lived for several years in United States during the decade of 70,s. In 1990 Chinua Achebe again came to live in U.S after a major car accident which made him partially disabled.

Chinua Achebe’s novels mainly focused on tradition of the Igbo society, the Christian influence and its effect. Achebe’s style depends on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines narration with representations of proverbs and folk stories. Achebe had written a number of children’s books, short stories, and essay collections. Chinua Achebe is currently the Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.