"Things Fall Apart" is a 1958 novel by the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. Seen as the quintessential novel on the change from pre to post colonial life in Nigeria, the novel was one of the first African novels to receive worldwide recognition. It is now considered a classic and widely taught in schools both inside and outside Africa.The novel centers around Okonkwo, the head of a … [Read more...]
Chinua Achebe was born on November 16th, 1930 in the Igbo village of Ogidi, Nigeria. When Achebe was a small child, his family moved to his father's ancestral town in what is now the state of Anambra. As a child, Achebe was often regaled with stories from his family members as story telling was an integral part of Igbo tradition. Because his parents were converts to the Protestant church, Achebe began attending religious classes at St. Philips Central School at the age of 6, where he was an exceptional student.
When Achebe was only 12, he left his family to move to the village of Nekede and begin attending the Central School there, where his older brother John taught. In 1944, Achebe began attending secondary school where he was forced to speak only English, a rule that he would later refer to as being ordered to "communicate in the language of their colonizers." It was at this school that Achebe developed a love of reading and to begin to understand how European writers wrote about Africa. In 1948, Achebe was given admission to Nigeria's brand new university University College. Initially, Achebe was sent to study medicine, but he soon changed his major to English, history and theology.
Achebe's very first published piece came in the form of an article in the University's paper, and he soon wrote his first short story. After graduating, Achebe returned to his hometown of Ogidi to decide what to do next. Soon, he began teaching at a school for poor students after which he left to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service, moving to Lagos.
It was while living in Lagos that Achebe first began working on a novel. "Things Fall Apart" his debut novel, was published in 1958. The same year, Achebe met his future wife, Christiana Chinwe Okoli. The two were married in 1961 and went on to have three children.
In 1960, Achebe published his second novel "No Longer At Ease", a sequel to "Thing's Fall Apart". That year, Achebe was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship for travel and used it to travel to East Africa, confronting the issues that these countries faced with colonialism head on. Two years later, Achebe was given another travel grant in the form of a Fellowship for Creative Artists awarded by UNESCO. This time, he traveled to the United States and Brazil.
Achebe helped to create the Voice of Nigeria radio network and the African Writers Series, a series that was determined to bring postcolonial African literature to the wider world.
Achebe went on to publish many more novels and his life was plagued by the war that erupted when Nigeria left the Republic of Biafra in 1967. During the 1980's, Achebe spent his time attending conferences, delivering speeches and writing. In 1990, he was in a car accident and spent the rest of his life paralyzed from the waist down. In 2013, Achebe died in Boston, Massachusetts after a short illness. He was buried in his hometown of Ogidi, Anambra State.