The great Nigerian novelist, professor and poet died after a brief illness as reported by his agent, Andrew Wylie.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan issued a statement paying tribute to Achebe as “Nigeria’s globally acclaimed writer, scholar, tutor, cultural icon, nationalist and artist of the very first rank.” While Achebe will be greatly missed, Jonathan said, he will live on in the minds of present and future generations through his great works.
He added that Achebe’s “frank, truthful and fearless interventions in national affairs will be greatly missed at home … because while others may have disagreed with his views, most Nigerians never doubted his immense patriotism and sincere commitment to the building of a greater, more united and prosperous nation that all Africans and the entire black race could be proud of.”
“He was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him,” Wylie said.
Chinua Achebe was best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958).
Born in Nigeria in 1930, Achebe was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, according to a biography posted by Penguin.
He was an early graduate of the respected University of Ibadan, established in Nigeria before the end of British colonial rule in 1960.
He worked in radio but in 1966 left his post during the national upheaval that led to the bloody Biafran War, in which Nigeria’s southeastern provinces attempted to secede.
Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra on diplomatic and fund-raising missions before the civil war came to an end after two and a half years.
He subsequently took up university posts in Nigeria and overseas, including teaching at Bard College in New York and Brown University in Rhode Island, where he was professor of Africana Studies.
Achebe’s 2012 memoir, “There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra,” draws on his recollections of that painful period in Nigeria’s past.
Achebe once said that he had to be a writer when he realized the meaning of the proverb ” — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter…
“It’s not one man’s job. It’s not one person’s job. But it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the travail — the bravery, even, of the lions.”
May his soul rest in perfect peace. Amen