16 November 1930
Chinua Achebe (1930-) is a prominent Igbo (Ibo) writer, famous for his novels describing the effects of Western customs and values on traditional African society. Achebe's knack for satire and his keen ear for spoken language have made him one of the most highly esteemed African writers in English. Chinua Achebe was born in Ogidi, Nigeria, the son of a teacher in a missionary school. His parents, though they installed in him many of the values of their traditional Igbo culture, were devout evangelical In 1944 Achebe attended Government College in Umuahia. He later attended the University College of Ibadan, where he studied English, history and theology. At the university Achebe rejected his British name and took his indigenous name Chinua. In 1953 he graduated with a BA. Before joining the Nigerian Broadcasting Company in Lagos in 1954 he traveled in Africa and America, and worked for a short time as a teacher. In the 1960s he was the director of External Services in charge of the Voice of Nigeria. During the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70) Achebe was in the Biafran government service, and then taught at US and Nigerian universities. Achebe's writings from this period reflect his deep personal disappointment with what Nigeria became since independence. He subsequently taught at various universities in Nigeria and the United States. Achebe wrote his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), partly in response to what he saw as inaccurate characterizations of Africa and Africans by British authors. The book describes the effects on Ibo society of the arrival of European colonizers and missionaries in the late 1800s. Achebe's later novels No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987) are set in Africa and describe the struggles of the African people to free themselves from European political influences. During Nigeria's tumultuous political period of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Achebe became politically active. Most of his literary works of this time address Nigeria's internal conflict (see Nigeria, Federal Republic of: Civil War). These books include the volumes of poetry Beware, Soul Brother (1971) and Christmas in Biafra (1973), the short-story collection Girls at War (1972), and the children's book How the Leopard Got His Claws (1972). In 1971 Achebe helped to found the influential literary magazine Okike. His other writings include the essay collections Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975), which he later expanded under the title Hopes and Impediments (1988); and The Trouble with Nigeria (1983). In 1990 Achebe was paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a serious car accident. Despite the setback however, he remained active and has continued writing and publishing. In 2007 Achebe won the Man Booker International Prize for fiction.
Newstime Africa, (2012), ‘Profile: Chinua Achebe – one of the world’s most original literary artist’, 8 April, [online], available at www.newstimeafrica.com (Accessed: 20 November 2012)|