For now the fact that one of the doyens of Africa's men of letters, Chinua Achebe, is dead is no longer news. ImageNations intentionally kept off the fray of all the earlier expressions of condolences. Yet, it would not be absolutely right to stay off forever. For most non Africans the only African book they have read and to which they will quickly refer a reader is Things Fall Apart and the fact that the book was translated into 50 languages and was made a reading requirement also worked to boost its popularity. However, my favourite novel of his is Arrow of God. The third book in what later became known as the African Trilogy, which comprised the two mentioned books and No Longer at Ease. There are several Africans who have also not read beyond TFA; though I will appeal to them to read the others.
My favourite proverb in his book goes like this 'the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.' This proverb is profound. There is no one who has read any of Achebe's book and can't quote you a favourite proverb or two. Achebe's achievement is so glaring that one needs not to repeat them. Even if he hadn't won anything at all, there are several novelists today who were inspired by him including the veritable Chimamanda Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus. He will be sorely missed but then death is an end that will come for all. The question is his place in the literary culture in Africa and the world is forever etched. Achebe's Books Reviewed Here on ImageNations:
- Things Fall Apart
- No Longer at Ease
- Arrow of God
- Anthills of the Savannah
- A Man of the People
- The Trouble with Nigeria
- Contemporary African Short Stories (as an Editor)
His books are deceptively simple to read but has complex political and socioeconomic underpinnings. The only regret is that he never got to win the Nobel; sure tells you something about awards. Fare thee well, Achebe. Damirifa due. This is a picture of Achebe two years after his debut novel, TFA.