Chinua Achebe

Brief Biography

Originally from Nigeria, Achebe (16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) is one of the greatest African novelists, critics, and public scholars. He is most famous for his novel Things Fall Apart and also for his public indictment of Joseph Conrad’s representation of Africans in his novel Heart of Darkness.

He was also deeply involved in the debates about whether or not African writers should write in English. In this debate, he was opposed by writers such as Ngugi Thiong’o and Chinweizu, both of whom believe that Africans need to write in their own native languages to offer not only the critiques of the colonial masters but also to revitalize and invigorate the original African literatures and cultures.

My Comments

In my opinion anyone teaching Heart of Darkness should either teach it in comparison with Things Fall Apart or, at the least, incorporate Achebe’s Indictment of Conrad in their teaching repertoire.

Furthermore, Acehbe should also be taught within the context of larger debates in African literature, esepcially about the place of colonial languages within the fight for retrieval and articulation of specific native African languages and cultures. For this the following two writings would be quite useful:

Major Works

  • Things Fall Apart(1958). Anchor Books, 1994
  • No Longer at Ease(1960). Penguin Books, 1994
  • Arrow of God(1964). Penguin Books, 2016
  • A Man of the People(1966). Penguin Books, 1989.
  • Anthills of the Savannah(1987). Anchor Books, 1998.

Resources on Achebe