Born on this day November 16, 1930, Chinua Achebe, one of the greatest African writers of the 20th century, has had a profound influence on global literature. His novels, essays, and poetry have been translated into over 50 languages, making his work accessible to readers worldwide. Achebe’s commitment to telling authentic African stories from an African perspective has forever changed the landscape of postcolonial literature.
His first novel, Things Fall Apart, is a prime example of Achebe’s impact on global literature. It is one of the most widely read books in modern African literature and is frequently taught in schools across the world. This novel gave a voice to the African experience during British colonial rule, providing an essential counter-narrative to Western portrayals of African societies.
Beyond his novels, Chinua Achebe’s influence extends to his critical essays and lectures. His critique of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness for its racist depiction of Africa and Africans sparked a significant debate in literary circles that continues today. Achebe challenged the literary world to reconsider its perspectives and biases when writing about different cultures.
In recognition of his contributions, Chinua Achebe received numerous honors and awards, including the Man Booker International Prize in 2007 for his contribution to fiction writing. His legacy continues to inspire current and future generations of writers around the world as they seek to explore and express their own cultural identities through literature.
Chinua Achebe’s influence on global literature is undeniable. His unique perspective and commitment to authentic storytelling have left a mark on the world of literature. As we honor this literary luminary, we also acknowledge the enduring power of his work in shaping our understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures and histories.
Hurrah! to them who do nothing
see nothing feel nothing whose
hearts are fitted with prudence
like a diaphragm across
womb’s beckoning doorway to bar
the scandal of seminal rage. I’m
told the owl too wears wisdom
in a ring of defense round
each vulnerable eye securing it fast
against the darts of sight. Long ago
in the Middle East Pontius Pilate
openly washed involvement off his
white hands and became famous. (Of all
the Roman officials before him and after
who else is talked about
every Sunday in the Apostles’ Creed?) And
talking of apostles that other fellow
Judas wasn’t such a fool
either; though much maligned by
succeeding generations the fact remains
he alone in that motley crowd
had sense enough to tell a doomed
movement when he saw one
and get out quick, a nice little
packet bulging his coat pocket
into the bargain—sensible fellow.
-Chinua Achebe, September 1970, from Collected Poems
Curated by Jennifer