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ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Afripol Presents>>Displaying items by tag: Chinua Achebe

image of Martin PlautMartin Plaut, African editor BBC World Service,  gives a compassing analysis  on Chinua Achebe new book   on Biafran war called - 'There Was a Country'


Martin Plaut  analysis:


This is a memoir filled with sadness - sadness at the deaths of so many of his fellow countrymen and sadness too at the fate that has befallen Nigeria.


The book begins by recalling the coup and counter-coup that left Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the Northern premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello dead.


Thousands of Igbo people were killed in retaliation. At the end of May 1967, Biafra declared independence and there was a rapid descent into war.


Achebe portrays the Nigerian government as ruthless in its suppression of the rebellion.

Biafran army soldiers and captives - May 1967More than one million people died during the Biafran conflict - BBC

A statement is attributed to Chief Obafemi Awolowo which summarises this attitude: 'All is fair in war, and starvation is one of the weapons of war. I don't see why we should feed our enemies fat in order for them to fight harder.'


Soon images of malnourished children filled the international press. Achebe accuses the United Nations of following Nigeria's lead, and standing idly by as Biafra was crushed. As Achebe puts it: "You see we, the little people of the world, are ever expendable."


The author writes movingly about the final days in January 1970: "In the end, Biafra collapsed. We simply had to turn around and find a way to keep those people still there alive. It was a desperate situation with so many children in need, kwashiorkor rampant, and thousand perishing every week... some people said: 'Let's go into the forest and continue the struggle.'


"That would have been suicidal and I don't think anybody should commit suicide."







Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Named Number One Of 50 Most Influential Books Of Last 50 Years

"In compiling the books on this list, the editors at SuperScholar have tried to provide a window into the culture of the last 50 years. Ideally, if you read every book on this list, you will know how we got to where we are today. Not all the books on this list are “great.” The criterion for inclusion was not greatness but INFLUENCE. All the books on this list have been enormously influential."    -  Super Scholar


1. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), as the most widely read book in contemporary African literature, focuses on the clash of colonialism, Christianity, and native African culture.

Prof. Achebe

2. Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) reinvented the science fiction genre, making it at once sociologically incisive as well as funny.


3. Robert Atkins’ Dr Atkins’s New Diet Revolution (1992, last edition 2002) launched the low-carbohydrate diet revolution, variants of which continue to be seen in numerous other diet programs.


4. Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion (2006), drawing on his background as an evolutionary theorist to elevate science at the expense of religion, propelled the neo-atheist movement.


5. Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1987) set the tone for the questioning of political correctness and the reassertion of a “canon” of Western civilization.


6. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003), an entertaining thriller, has been enormously influential in getting people to think that Jesus is not who Christians say he is and that Christianity is all a conspiracy.


7. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970) transformed the way we view native Americans as they lost their land, lives, and dignity to expanding white social and military pressures.


8. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) more than any other book helped launch the environmental movement.

9. Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures (1957), laying out his ideas of transformational grammar, revolutionized the field of linguistics and at the same time dethroned behaviorism in psychology.


10. Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People (1989) set the standard for books on leadership and effectiveness in business.


11. Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box (1996), though roundly rejected by the scientific community, epitomizes the challenge of so-called intelligent design to evolutionary theory and has spawned an enormous literature, both pro and con.


12. Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997), in employing evolutionary determinism as a lens for understanding human history, reignited grand history making in the spirit Spengler and Toynbee.


13. Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (1980) examines, in the context of a mystery at a medieval monastery, the key themes of premodernity, modernity and postmodernity.


14. Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (1962) provides a particularly effective answer to totalitarian attempts to crush the human spirit, showing how humanity can overcome horror and futility through finding meaning and purpose.


15. Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963), in giving expression to the discontent women felt in being confined to the role of homemaker, helped galvanize the women’s movement.


16. Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom (1962) argued that capitalism constitutes a necessary condition for political liberties and thus paved the way for the conservative economics of the Reagan years.


17. Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence (1995) showed clearly how skills in dealing with and reading emotions can be even more important than the cognitive skills that are usually cited as the official reason for career advancement.


18. Jane Goodall’s In the Shadow of Man (1971), in relating her experiences with chimpanzees in the wild, underscored the deep connection between humans and the rest of the animal world.


19. John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1992), in highlighting and elevating the differences between men and women in their relationships, challenged the contention that gender differences are socially constructed.


20. Alex Haley’s Roots (1976), by personalizing the tragic history of American slavery through the story of Kunta Kinte, provided a poignant challenge to racism in America.


21. Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time (1988, updated and expanded 1998), by one of the age’s great physicists, attempts to answer the big questions of existence, not least how the universe got here.


22. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (1961) etched into public consciousness a deep skepticism of bureaucracies, which in the book are portrayed as self-serving and soul-destroying.


23. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962, last edition 1978) changed our view of science from a fully rational enterprise to one fraught with bias and irrational elements.


24. Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981) transformed people’s view of God, exonerating God of evil by making him less than all-powerful.


25. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) served as prelude to the civil rights advances of the 1960s by portraying race relations from a fresh vantage—the vantage of an innocent child untainted by surrounding racism and bigotry.


26. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), as an example magical realism, epitomizes the renaissance in Latin American literature.


27. Alasdair McIntyre’s After Virtue (1981, last edition 2007) is one of the 20th century’s most important works of moral philosophy, critiquing the rationalism and irrationalism that pervade modern moral discourse.


28. Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved (1987) provides a profound and moving reflection on the impact of American slavery.


29. Abdul Rahman Munif’s Cities of Salt (1984-89) is a quintet of novels in Arabic focusing on the psychological, sociological, and economic impact on the Middle East of oil.


30. Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed> (1965), attacking car industry’s lax safety standards, not only improved the safety of cars but also mainstreamed consumer protection (we take such protections for granted now).


31. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks’ The 9/11 Commission Report (2004), though not the final statement on the 9/11 disaster, encapsulated the broader threat of terrorism in the new millennium.


32. Roger Penrose’s The Emperor’s New Mind (1988) provides a sweeping view of 20th century’s scientific advances while at the same time challenging the reductionism prevalent among many scientists.


33. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957) has become a key inspiration for conservative economics in challenging entitlements and promoting unimpeded markets.


34. John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (1971, last edition 1999) is the most significant effort to date to resolve the problem of distributive justice and has formed the backdrop for public policy debates.


35. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series (seven volumes, 1997-2007), loved by children, panned by many literary critics, has nonetheless set the standard for contemporary children’s literature.


36. Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988), which led Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a death edict (fatwa) against Rushdie, underscored the clash between Islamic fundamentalism and Western civilization.



37. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (1980), based on his wildly popular PBS series by the same name, inspired widespread interest in science while promoting the idea that nothing beyond the cosmos exists.



38. Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation (2001) details the massive impact that the U.S. fast food industry has had on people’s diets not just in the U.S. but also across the globe.



39. Amartya Sen’s Resources, Values and Development (1984, last edition 1997) develops an approach to economics that, instead of focusing on utility maximization, attempts to alleviate human suffering by redressing the poverty that results from economic mismanagement.


40. B. F. Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971) attacked free will and moral autonomy in an effort to justify the use of scientific (behavioral) methods in improving socie


41. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago (in three volumes, 1974-78) relentlessly exposed the totalitarian oppression of the former Soviet Union and, more than any other book, was responsible for its government’s subsequent dissolution.


42. Hernando de Soto’s The Mystery of Capitalism (2000) argues that the absence of legal infrastructure, especially as it relates to property, is the key reason that capitalism fails when it does fail.


43. Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946, last edition 2004) sold 50 million copies and revolutionized how Americans raise their children



44. Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan (2007, last edition 2010) provides the most trenchant critique to date of the financial and monetary backdrop to the current economic crisis.


45. Mao Tse-tung’s The Little Red Book, aka Quotations From Chairman Mao (1966) was required reading throughout China and epitomized his political and social philosophy


46. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life (2002), though addressed to the American evangelical culture, has crossed boundaries and even led to Warren giving the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration.


47. James D. Watson’s The Double Helix (1969), in presenting a personal account of his discovery, with Francis Crick, of the structure of DNA, not only recounted one of the 20th century’s greatest scientific discoveries but also showed how science, as a human enterprise, really works.


48. E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology (1975) challenged the idea that cultural evolution can be decoupled from biological evolution, thus engendering the fields of evolutionary psychology and evolutionary ethics.


49. Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), written posthumously by Alex Haley from interviews, portrays a complex activist for human rights at a complex time in American history.


50. Muhammad Yunus’ Banker to the Poor (1999, last edition 2007) lays out how “micro-lending” made it possible to provide credit to the poor, thereby offering a viable way to significantly diminish world poverty.


Monday, 09 January 2012 19:37

Chinua Achebe's Nigerian Award debacle

Chinua Achebe's Nigerian Award debacle: A learning experience and teachable moment

Professor Chinua Achebe, the most influential African writer, a citizen of the world and a respected voice in the world, rejected an award from Nigeria. The issue is not so much that he turns down the national award but on how Nigerian government handled the whole issue. First and foremost, Professor Chinua Achebe is entitle to turn down any award whether from Nigeria or from Nobel Prize committee. That is ‘no-brainer' as Americans like to say but crust of the matter was in the handling of the said award. The Federal government of Nigeria principally the minister of foreign affairs in consultation with the presidency would have dispatched the Nigerian Ambassador to United States and he would have visited Honorable Achebe at his residence in America and talk to him about Nigeria's intention of honoring him.


In the private session Professor Achebe will be diligently explained on how far the country has improved since the last time he rejected the national award. At the moment the country with a new leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan and many world respected technocrats including Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Lamido Sanusi and Professor Nnaji are steering the country in a new and affirmative direction. If he insisted that he must not accept the award then it will all end there and no another ear will hear it, in that case the government will not put his name out there and be embarrassed.

It will be a good thing and strategic victory for the government of President Jonathan to convince Professor Achebe to accept a national award for it will give credibility and restores integrity to the national award which in the eyes of many Nigerians has become an unmerited award for well connected contractors, politicians and elites. On the international scene the voice and the prestige of Chinua Achebe is simply big, his acceptance of the Nigerian Award will return a level of goodwill that it is badly needed by the country. At the moment the administration and country are confronted with myriad of challenges including internal insecurity and poor image; it needs any encourage it can garnish from anywhere especially from this son of Africa Professor Achebe. The assurance and support from Achebe can assure some quarters in the global community.


Even when the federal government did not do its homework and things went the way it did and Professor Chinua Achebe rejected the national award. The handlers of public relation and communication in Aso Rock would have geared into more sophisticated mode of repairing damage and damage control not sending out  brainy Dr. Reuben Abati to sound defensive. The more effective defense to the debacle is to go into more humble communication and acknowledged that Chinua Achebe is right on his assertion but the new assertive government of President Goodluck Jonathan is on top of it. More to it the handlers should have communicate more effective how passionate the current administration is on solving the gigantic problems of the country by giving example with the most viable and free election that was conducted by the administration. The handlers must emphasis that the election was accepted by both local and international observers as the freest election ever conducted in the country. Federal government of Nigeria should have said that the administration may have been slipped-off in effective communication of their actions, agenda and achievements but there was no laxity in their actions to right the wrongs of the country.


In future Nigerian government should not be intimidated in trying again to honour one of the greatest writers of all time, a world citizen and a Nigerian native but it should do the necessary arrangement to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes. Nigeria needs Chinua Achebe as a source and beckon of goodwill that convey to whole wide world that Nigeria is ready to do business with the rest of the world.


Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization. Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.




Things fall apart for rapper as Nigerian writer makes him change forthcoming film title to avoid conflict with 1958 novel

50 Cent has been undone by one of Africa's greatest novelists, Chinua Achebe. The rapper's latest movie has been renamed ahead of its release, due to a conflict with Achebe's most famous work.


Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart, published by Achebe in 1958, is Nigeria's most famous English-language novel. It has sold more than 8m copies worldwide. Unfortunately, 50 Cent was not aware of this. He spent much of 2010 shooting a film of the same name, the story of an American football player diagnosed with cancer. "It's a project that I wrote, produced and financed myself," he explained last year. Directed by Mario Van Peebles, it premiered at the Miami film festival in March and is expected to be released soon.


50 Cents

Unfortunately for Fiddy, his film will not keep its original title. After being contacted by Achebe's legal team, 50 Cent allegedly offered $1m to hold on to the title. Achebe, 80, took this as an insult. "The novel with the said title was initially produced in 1958 (that is 17 years before [50] was born)," replied his lawyers, according to Naijan. "[It is] listed as the most-read book in modern African literature, and won't be sold for even £1bn." The film has now been renamed to All Things Fall Apart.

The Guardian UK



Published in Archive
Saturday, 01 January 2011 18:16


Afripol Most Influential Africans

Nelson Mandela: A symbol of freedom to the emerging continent and Mandela has become the conscience of the world. Mandela is a role model for a goodwill mindset; embracing reconciliation, forgiveness and unity in his native South Africa. The troubled continent littered with wars and disturbances needs Mandela's methodology for making sustainable peace.

President Goodluck Jonathan: The president of the most populous and influential country in Africa which is Nigeria. He has displayed maturity in tackling Nigerian huge and complex problems. A democrat who has shown credible interest in leading Nigeria to her vision of becoming the richest and most successful democracy in Africa.


President Goodluck Jonathan                                                               Prof. Wangari Maathai

Prof. Wangari Maathai:  A warrior for the environment and has made planting trees in Kenya a point of duty. The first woman in Africa to win Nobel Peace Prize and the founder of The Green Belt Movement.

Chinua Achebe: A writer and author of “Things Fall Apart” that delved into the crash of civilizations when colonialism stepped foot in Africa. Achebe is a civic activist and chronicler of African storytelling; he has done more to express African state of mind to the world.

Wole Soynika:  The first African to win Nobel Prize in literature. Wole Soyinka is a dramatist, poet and civil right activist. Great Soynika is a lion of Africa who has used his powerful intellectual acumen to mesmerise the world community.

Muammar Gaddafi: A colorful and influential leader in Africa. No matter what you might say or think of Gaddafi, nobody can deny his influence in Africa. He is political savvy and made the strategic move of re-establishing relationship with the West. He played a significant role in the formation of African Union. The most recent summit between Africa and Europe was held in his capital city, Tripoli, Libya.

(L)Muammar Gaddafi                                           (R)Kofi Anan

Charlize Theron:   The Oscar winner South African movie star. She has become a household name in Africa in general and South Africa in particular for her charity works. She is the founder of The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project – “committed to creating a safer and healthier life for impoverished children and communities of South Africa, and other African nations, with a particular focus on individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS.”


Kofi Anan: A Ghanaian diplomat that needs no introduction, the former Secretary General of United Nations. At the end of UN tenure, Kofi Annan, became the Chairman of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, organization dedicated to African food sufficiency and security,

Kase Lawal: The founder of CAMAC International and the chairman of Camac Energy, a NYSE /AMEX Company.  A business baron and 21st century business executive. His prominence in the global business scene has become something of great interest to African and he has become a role model to aspiring business executive in Africa and in African American community.


Chinua Achebe                                                                                                    Wole Soynika

Aliko Dangote: The founder of Dangote Group. Forbes magazine documented him as the richest Nigerian business executive. An intelligent and modern African business tycoon, whose conglomeration/empire has given thousands of jobs to Africans.


Philip Emeagwali: The inventor of the fastest computer.  Philip Emeagwali has been called “a father of the Internet” by CNN and TIME, and extolled as a “Digital Giant” by BBC and as “one of the great minds of the Information Age” by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf:  The first woman president in Africa. She is committed to building the war torn Liberia. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has become an inspiration and role model to millions of African young women, girls and the youths of the continent,

(L) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf                           (R)Jerry Rawlings

Nduka obaigbena: The founder and chairman of Africa’s widely read newspaper named ‘Thisday’ and flagship magazine 'Arise', an international voice of Africa. His influence stems from his unflinching and sustaining commitment to African culture in the globalized media.

Jerry Rawlings: The former president of Ghana made the greatest impact on this West African nation after Kwame Nkrumah. He made radical reforms that transformed Ghana to a progressive capitalistic democratic society. His influence has not waned, he still plays vital role in cessation of conflicts in Africa especially at the ongoing fracas in Ivory Coast.

Mo Ibrahim: The Sudanese business mogul and billionaire. His commitment to democracy and good governance drove him to create a foundation that monitors and rewards good governance for African Heads of States.


(l)Charlize Theron                                                  (R) Mo Ibrahim


Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.

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Achebe on Nigerian democracy

“The Colloquium on Africa” focusing on the forth coming elections in Nigeria summoned by the Honorable Chinua Achebe should contribute to solving the problem of voting machination in the country. Achebe must be commended for organizing an important event, mostly for his continue devotion and patriotism. Nigeria must be shepherded and guided by men and women of goodwill who knows that for Nigerian greatness to be realized, we cannot abandon the course of democracy to lethargy and cynicism.

“Nigeria is preparing for another election cycle beginning in February 2010 with state government elections in Anambra, a state in the southeast of the country. Anambra sparked the most violent and protracted scenes of ballot rigging and resistance in 2007, and the conduct of elections there in 2010 will represent a test case for national elections that will follow in the rest of the country.”

"If Nigeria's recent democratic failure passes without consequences from the international community, then the very idea of democracy in Africa is at serious risk," concluded Human Rights Watch.

Honorable Achebe has done the right thing by calling the country to self-examine herself on the issues of politics, election and democracy. No one is saying that democracy is all about election but it is an integral part of a democratic process. Election is an indicative of the longevity and richness of a democracy.  The Achebe’s Colloquium on Africa was held at Brown University on Dec. 11, 2009 with the focused theme, “The international Conference on Nigerian Elections” which by itself is accumulative breakthrough in making democracy works in Nigeria.  The symposium was honored with notable individuals from diverse walks of life including the Nigerian Nobel laureate and social critic - Great Wole Soyinka, President of Brown University -Ruth Simmons, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State who was the guest speaker and many others.

The ramification of this December gathering on Nigerian polity will be difficult to be quantified but its awareness on the polity cannot be overemphasized. The people of Nigeria must be aware that the responsibility of governance and democracy do not rest only on the politicians but also on the voting masses. Therefore Nigerians cannot afford to be disorientated, nonchalant rather vigilant and active stakeholders in the democratic process. The noble idea of democracy as a political ideology cannot be allow to be faltering in Nigeria. Democracy has worked for so many countries and it can work in Nigeria too. One thing we must recognize it’s premature to say that democracy cannot function in Nigeria until we have given it our best. It is about making mistakes and corrections that we can build a credible democracy in Nigeria. Confidence building associated with free and fair elections will consolidate democratic process in the country.

“The Colloquium on Africa” cannot be only an intellectual exercise but a pragmatic Townhall Meeting that should assemble together all the communities and organizations that are stakeholders in our great country Nigeria. The representatives of Nigerian Students Association, Nigerian Labour Congress, Market Women Association, Trade Unions and officials of Nigerian Electoral Commission should participate and play a vital role in such event for these people are at the grassroots and are closer to the action.

The logistic and location for this important event must be considered. The ideal location and venue for the Colloquium on Africa should be on African soil – Nigeria. But for all practical purposes the venue at Rhode Island is a good one. The modern technology of satellite and telecommunication should be utilized to connect all the citizens of Nigeria that cannot make it to America.

Chinua Achebe has given so much to Africa and indeed to the whole world. This great dialogue he initiated must be replicated in all parts of Nigeria and Africa, so that we can come together to brainstorm and strategize on the pitfalls and vulnerabilities of democracy in our hemisphere and apply credible solutions to stop the hemorrhage. African countries and Nigeria in particular can rise to the challenges of modern Democratic governance for the sake of our children and posterity. The sustainability of democracy in Nigeria rests on having a fair and free election. On election credibility a durable foundation is laid for survival of democracy in Nigeria.

Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization. Africa Political and EconomicStrategicCenter (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.

written December 21, 2009



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Achebe and Nobel Prize

Whenever you have time to visit Nobel Prize website, do click to page for Nobel prize winners for literature. You come to notice that of all the important literature of 20th century and emerging 21st century winners of the prize; that the greatest literature of all time that elucidated and clarified the position of Africans on meeting of the West and Africa is missing. The book is Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" which is based on the crash of civilizations. To say that "Things Fall Apart" is just a literature is a sophomoric understatement. The book is a historical analogy and the psychoanalogy of the antecedent and contemporary Africans as they struggle to confront the history, encroachment and interference of an outside culture that left an undeniable and indelible mark on the body, soul and psyche of the African. The meeting brought mixed basket of modernity, exploitation, slavery, colonialism and Christianity - a total transformation of Africa.

The ramification and the osmosis of the great meeting of the cultures is exactly the picture our Honorable Achebe captured and portrayed vividly in "Things Fall Apart". The book is bigger than a great story and history because it becomes the first attempt by an African to define what it means to be an African within the context of the introduction of the Western culture without undermining African sense and sensibility. Africa from the prism of history is the great loser but the complete ramification have not fully emerged. It will take centuries to say for sure what the great crashed of civilizations meant to the both parties. The great loser of today might tomorrow inherit the mundane earth.

Let's deal with this without mincing words. Why did the Nobel Award committee deny Chinua Achebe the literature prize? Simple and direct: They are afraid of the truth, the intellectual honesty that the committee is devoted to pursue and propagate have eluded them because the acceptance of the truth and reality comes with a cost and reparation. Reparation and acknowledgment of the truth does not necessarily have to be material or monetary gain but it can come as way of intellectual reparation and the readjustment of the status quo from intellectual guilt. The intellectual gatekeepers of the Nobel committee might see the acknowledgment of this reality abounded by "Things Fall Apart" as making them vulnerable to those that desire to be atone for the past mistakes and injustices.

Nobel Prize committee has given every Tom, Dick and Harry from all the corners of our globe literature prize. But when they come to Honorable Chinua Achebe they skipped him because "Things Fall Apart" is not your father's literature, for it is a missive of rugged individualism, pride, heart break and mistreatment written by an African to the world that oppressed them and dislodged them from their humanity.


What is this cold war between these two institutions - Achebe and Nobel? First and foremost Chinua Achebe is an institution, he might be one man but he represents a side of Africa that dare to speak, seek, pursue and ask question that must be asked. So ask he did and when two titans meet for a wrestling match the ground quivers. Chinua Achebe is bigger than Nobel prize because the question or the quest for liberty he tendered cannot be satiated with a Nobel prize. The committee of Nobel prize comprehended that the only way they chose to answer Things Fall Apart‘s question is with mute. For if they award the prize they have accepted the argument of the book. If they deny it with a loud voice then they have acknowledged their vulnerability and insecurity.

The inactive observers who have not comprehend this delicate game of chicken and hen, fail to appreciate the brewing and continuous cold war: Since Honorable Chinua Achebe refused to apologize for the book instead he challenged another great western writer the Conrad's Heart of Darkness dehumanization of Africans. In the paper "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'" he presented at University of Massachusetts in 1977. He reiterated and rebutted the content of the book with clarity and intellectual vim:

"Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as "the other world," the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civili zation, a place where man's vaunted intelligence and refine ment are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality. The book opens on the River Thames, tranquil, resting peacefully "at the decline of day after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks."2 But the actual story will take place on the River Congo, the very antithesis of the Thames. The River Congo is quite decidedly not a River Emeritus. It has rendered no service and enjoys no old-age pension. We are told that "going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginning of the world." Is Conrad saying then that these two rivers are very differ ent, one good, the other bad? Yes, but that is not the real point. It is not the differentness that worries Conrad but the lurking hint of kinship, of common ancestry. For the Thames too "has been one of the dark places of the earth." It conquered its darkness, of course, and is now in daylight and at peace. But if it were to visit its primordial relative, the Congo, it would run the terrible risk of hearing grotesque echoes of its own forgotten darkness, and falling victim to an avenging recrudescence of the mindless frenzy of the first beginnings."

The Nobel Prize Committee and its intellectual hamlet have not forgiven Chinua Achebe for equating his book as the antithesis of Conrad's Heart of darkness. Those that witnessed the event and others misunderstood "Things Fall Apart" and Chinua Achebe - for all he was exposing were the sins of Heart of Darkness which makes the book fundamentally flawed from African perspective. These ivory tower intellectuals that claimed paragon of excellence have cultivated a mindset that negate anything African and absolutely diverged from the African point of view.



"Men become might not by what they achieved but for the task they set for themselves"

- Henry Kissinger

What really made Hon. Chinua Achebe the greatest writer of our time is not just about writing one of the most significant book of all time but for the task he set for himself and his people. The great task was to tell the world that in spite of the tribulations and destruction of the African body that the spirit - the African spirit is still vibrant and very much alive. If the thesis of "Things Fall Apart" can be summon and summarize in one line: Africa is living.

Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization.  Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.


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