Biography Of Chinua Achebe.
Professor Albert Chinualumogu Achebe was a renowned Nigerian novelist and author of the best selling novel, Things Fall Apart, the work that has led many to tag him as the “patriarch of the African novel”.
Chinua Achebe was born in Ogidi, Nigeria protectorate in what is now known as Anambra State in 1930. He attended the University of Ibadan where he studied English at the University before venturing briefly into the teaching profession. In 1961, Chinua joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation as director of external broadcasting and he served in that position until 1966.
It is noteworthy to mention that in 1958, before joining the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, Chinua published his first novel: Things Fall Apart. The novel tells of the cultural clash between native African culture and the traditional white culture of missionaries and the colonial government in place in Nigeria in the colonial era. Things Fall Apart was a startling success and has attained global status, it has become part of the required books to read in many countries all over the world.
During the 1960s Chinua achieved writing success as it was during this decade that he wrote the following novels: No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964) and A Man of the People (1966). All the above mentioned literary works of Achebe address the issue of traditional ways of life clashing with new, often colonial, points of view.
In 1967, Chinua Achebe and Christopher Okigbo, his friend, a renowned poet, co-founded the Citadel Press, a publishing company which they intended to run as an outlet for a new kind of African-oriented children’s books. Okigbo never lived long enough to see the completion of the new project he and Achebe had just begun because he was soon killed in the Nigerian-Biafran civil war that lasted three years from 1967-1970. Two years after the death of Okigbo, Chinua went on a tour of the United States of America with Gabriel Okara and Cyprian Ekwensi, his fellow writers, giving lectures at various universities.
It was also in the 1960s that Chinua got married to Christie Chinwe Okoli in 1961 precisely, and they went on to birth four children.
On arriving Nigeria from the United States, Chinua became a research fellow and later a professor of English (1976–81) at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. During this time, he also served as director of two Nigerian publishing houses, Heinemann Educational Books Ltd. and Nwankwo-Ifejika Ltd.
The 1970s also proved successful for Chinua as it was at this period that he wrote a collection of short stories and children’s books. His works are outlined thus: How the Leopard Got His Claws (1973). Poetry collections also released around this time were Beware, Soul-Brother (1971) and Christmas in Biafra (1973), and last but not the least, Chinua’s first book of essays, Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975).
In 1975, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Chinua gave a lecture titled “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” in which he made known to everyone present that Joseph Conrad’s famous novel dehumanizes Africans. The work referred to Conrad as a “thoroughgoing racist,” and, when it was published in essay form, it went on to become a seminal postcolonial African work. Chinua joined the faculty at the University of Connecticut that same year, returning to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1976.
Chinua Achebe released Anthills of the Savannah in 1987 which was shortlisted for the Booker McConnell Prize and in 1988, he published Hopes and Impediments.
In the 1990s, Chinua Achebe was in a car accident in Nigeria which left him paralyzed from the waist down and which relegated him to the confines of a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
He soon moved to the United States and taught at Bard College, north of New York City, where he remained for 15 years. In 2009, Achebe left Bard to join the faculty of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, serving as professor of Africana Studies as well as the David and Marianna Fisher University professor.
Chinua Achebe won several awards over the years spanning his writing career, including the Man Booker International Prize (2007) and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2010). He also received honorary degrees from more than 30 universities around the world.
Chinua Achebe died on March 21, 2013, at the age of 82, in Boston, Massachusetts.
May his soul rest in peace.