Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe, born on November 16, 1930, was a distinguished Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic who played a significant role in shaping contemporary African literature.
His debut book, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is widely regarded as his magnum opus, remains the most extensively researched, translated, and read African novel, occupying a crucial position in African literature.
Achebe’s African Trilogy, comprising of Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease (1960), and Arrow of God (1964), is widely celebrated, and he has authored several other notable works, including A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987).
Despite being commonly referred to as the “father of African literature,” Achebe firmly rejected the label.
Chinua Achebe Biography
|Full Name||Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe|
|Pen Name||Chinua Achebe|
|Date of Birth||16 November 1930|
|Place of Birth||Ogidi, British Nigeria|
|State of Origin||Ogidi, Anambra State, Nigeria|
|Died||21 March 2013|
|Children||Chidi, Nwando, Ikechukwu, and Chinelo|
|Occupation||Writer, Lecturer, Novelist|
|Social Media Handles||Unavailable|
Early Life And Education
Chinua Achebe, a renowned Nigerian writer, was born on November 16, 1930, in Ogidi, a town in Igbo land, which was part of the Old British Empire of Eastern Nigeria.
He was born to Isaiah Okafo Achebe, a teacher and evangelist, and Janet Anaenechi Iloegbunam, a church women’s leader and vegetable farmer.
His parents were early converts to Christianity through the Protestant Church Mission Society (CMS), which had a significant impact on Chinua’s upbringing.
Achebe had five siblings – Frank Okwuofu, John Chukwuemeka Ifeanyichukwu, Zinobia Uzoma, Augustine Ndubisi, and Grace Nwanneka – and the family moved to Ogidi, Isaiah’s ancestral town in Anambra state, after the birth of their youngest daughter.
Chinua attended St. Philips’ Central School in Akpakaogwe, Ogidi, then Nekede Central School outside Owerri in 1942, before moving to Government College, Umuahia.
He then proceeded to the University College, now known as the University of Ibadan, where he was given a bursary to study medicine.
However, he became critical of European literature about Africa, specifically Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, during his studies.
After reading Mister Johnson by Joyce Cary, he decided to become a writer because of the book’s portrayal of Nigerian characters as either savages or buffoons.
Achebe switched from studying medicine to English, history, and theology, despite the additional tuition fees and loss of his scholarship. The government provided a bursary, and his family donated money to support his education.
His older brother, Augustine, even gave up money for a trip home from his job as a civil servant so that Achebe could continue his studies.
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Achebe briefly taught before working as the director of external broadcasting at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in Lagos from 1961 to 1966.
He co-founded a publishing house in Enugu in 1967 with poet Christopher Okigbo, who passed away during the Nigerian civil war for Biafran independence, which Achebe openly supported.
Achebe, along with authors Gabriel Okara and Cyprian Ekwensi, traveled to the United States in 1969 to give university lectures.
Upon returning to Nigeria, he was named a research fellow at the University of Nigeria, where he later became a professor of English, a position he held from 1976 to 1981 (and has held as professor emeritus since 1985).
He oversaw two Nigerian publishers, Heinemann Educational Books Ltd. and Nwankwo-Ifejika Ltd., starting in 1970.
After a car accident that left him largely paralyzed in Nigeria in 1990, Achebe moved to the United States and began teaching at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
He left Bard in 2009 to become a professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Achebe’s first book, Things Fall Apart (1958), explores traditional Igbo life during the era of missionaries and colonial rule in his native region.
The main character is unable to embrace the new order, despite the fact that the old one has already fallen.
Achebe’s follow-up, No Longer at Ease (1960), portrays a newly appointed government worker who has just returned from attending university in England and who struggles to uphold the moral principles he believes to be just in the face of the demands and temptations of his new post.
Arrow of God (1964) depicts the main character’s wrath at the position the white man has given him, set in the 1920s in a community under British rule, whose son becomes a devout Christian.
Corruption and other aspects of postcolonial African society are discussed in A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987).
In addition to novels, Achebe also authored several children’s novels and anthologies of short stories, such as How the Leopard Got His Claws (1973; with John Iroaganachi), as well as essays including Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975), Hopes and Impediments (1988), Home and Exile (2000), The Education of a British-Protected Child (2009), and There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra (2012).
He paired his pictures with an essay, poems, and photographs in Another Africa (1998). In 2007, he received the Man Booker International Prize.
Achebe’s teaching career was as successful as his writing career. He was appointed as a visiting professor for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for three years in 1972 and for the University of Connecticut for one year in 1975.
In 1976, when the situation in Nigeria had stabilized, he resumed his position as an English professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he had been involved since 1966.
He was appointed the Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Literature at Bard College in Annandale, New York, in 1990.
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Achebe faced a tumultuous period in Nigeria between 1966 and 1972, marked by a coup d’état and a second revolution that ousted the Igbo-dominated administration.
Aware of his opinions against the new leadership, they targeted him, prompting him to flee to Nsukka, where he eventually became a senior research fellow at the University of Nigeria.
In 1967, Biafra declared its independence, leading to a civil war that lasted for thirty months until Biafra’s defeat.
Following his departure from Africa, Achebe traveled to Europe and America, where he wrote and spoke about Biafran issues.
On September 10, 1961, Chinua Achebe married Christie Chinwe Okoli in a ceremony held at the Chapel of Resurrection on the University of Ibadan campus.
Their union was blessed with three children: Chinelo, who was born on July 11, 1962, Ikechukwu, born on December 3, 1964, and Chidi, born on May 24, 1967.
As their children began attending school in Lagos, Achebe and Christie became concerned about the racial biases expressed in the predominantly white teaching staff and textbooks that presented a distorted view of African life.
To address these concerns, Achebe wrote his first children’s book, “Chike and the River,” which was published in 1966.
Achebe’s legacy lives on, and he is widely credited with changing the course of world literature by providing an African perspective on the impacts of European colonization.
Despite criticism for writing in English, his goal was to inform the world about the true issues brought about by Western influence in Africa.
He won numerous accolades throughout his life, including the Man Booker International Prize in 2007 and more than 30 honorary doctorates.
In addition to being a successful author, he supported Nigerian writers and was vocal in denouncing corrupt Nigerian politicians and those who misused the country’s oil assets. Achebe died in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 21, 2013, at the age of 82.
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- Things Fall Apart (1958)
- No Longer at Ease (1960)
- Arrow of God (1964)
- A Man of the People (1966)
- Chike and the River (1966)
- Beware, Soul Brother and Other Poems (1971)
- Girls at War and Other Stories (1972)
- How the Leopard Got His Claws (1972)
- Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975)
- The Flute (1977)
- The Drum (1977)
- The Trouble with Nigeria (1984)
- African Short Stories (1984)
- Anthills of the Savannah (1987)
- Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays (1988)
- The Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories (1992)
- Home and Exile (2000)
- Collected Poems (2005)
- The Education of a British-Protected Child (2010)
Awards and Nominations
- Margaret Wong Memorial Prize (1959)
- New Statesman Jock Campbell Award for Commonwealth Writers (1964)
- Commonwealth Poetry Prize (1974)
- Lotus Award for Afro-Asian Writers (1975)
- Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) (1987)
- German Booksellers Peace Prize (2002)
- Man Booker International Prize (2007)
- Campion Award (US) (1996)
- Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2010)
- Dayton Literary Peace Prize (US) (2010)
The precise value of his assets and wealth were undisclosed prior to his passing.
Social Media Handles
He doesn’t have any social media account associated with him.