Chinua Achebe, The father of modern African literature, was described by United States President, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle as: “A revolutionary author” who “shattered the conventions of literature.”
The above description of Achebe was made in a letter released by The White House and addressed to the family of Achebe. The letter was read by a representative from Obama’s White House at the Celebration of Life event for Late Chinua Achebe, which took place on last Sunday night, June 2, at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium, Washington, DC.
The letter from President Obama and The First Lady Mitchell Obama read:
“Achebe shattered the conventions of literature and shaped the collective identity of Nigerians throughout the world. With a dream of taking on misperceptions of his homeland, he gave voice to perspectives that cultivated understanding and drew our world closer together. His legacy will endure in the hearts of all whose lives he touched with the everlasting power of his art.”
There were cultural highlights at the occasion including a theatrical rendition of a scene from Achebe‘s Things Fall Apart, which was produced by Mike Chuck theater, a former Nigeria based US citizen.
Notable personalities and entertainments at celebration include, “The Afrobeat band Eme and Heteru serenaded the crowd with electrifying music. Speakers included the host, Johnnetta Cole, president emeriti of Spelman and Bennet Colleges and now director of the Smithonian Museum of African Art; Ruth Simmons, former president of Brown University; Poets Sonia Sanchez, Micere Mugo and Simon Gikandi. Others are Scott Moyers – president of Penguin, and Jules Chametzky professor emeriti of Umass Amherst, where Achebe spent time in the 1970s and ‘80s.”