Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Rogue Farewell: Chinua Achebe

"If you don't like someone's story, you write your own."
                                                                                                             – Chinua Achebe

 Every generation is granted its fair share of exceptionally influential individuals. They come in all forms and at varying levels of influence and fame, and the world is a better place for having them.

We had Chinua Achebe. The literary titan, who wrote over 20 poignant novels, and is best known around the world for his novel "Things Fall Apart" passed away this past week on the March 21. He was 82.

Beyond being a legendary writer, Achebe challenged the intellectual and cultural status quo. He famously denounced Joseph Conrad's  "Heart of Darkness" as racist in its depiction of Africans as savages. Although the book had misguidedly been considered the gospel on Africa by many outsiders, it took a tumble in popularity after Achebe speaking up against it.

Nelson Mandela, who read Achebe's work in jail, has called him a writer "in whose company the prison walls fell down."(reuters)

Whether it is the high school student in the West whose only experience with Africa has been through the mandated reading of "Things Fall Apart", the Nigerian farmer who felt Achebe's impact without having read a word of his, or the scholar who experienced a paradigm shift in your view of cultural dynamics after reading his work; we can all agree on one thing: it has been an honor to have the great Chinua Achebe in our lifetime.

"There is no moral obligation to write in a particular way. But there is a moral obligation, I think, not to ally oneself with power against the powerless."
                                                        – Chinua Achebe

Farewell to a global icon. Farewell to the pride of a people. Farewell to the Grandfather of Modern African Literature. Farewell to a true 'rogue scholar'.

                                           Rest in Peace. Rest in Power.

No comments: