There Was A Man – Chinua Achebe
Literature was my best subject in Secondary school. It was my own excuse to read books, give my own opinion and get good grades for it. I also learned to respect the greats; the legends, the ones that laid the foundation and made it possible for us to be in the mind frame we have now. There was a man and his name was Chinua Achebe and he is great.
Every so often we remember Chinua Achebe for the novel that The New Yorker described as his magnum opus “Things Fall Apart”. According to Wikipedia, this 1958 novel was the most widely read book in African Literature and sold over 10 million copies. It has also been translated into 50 languages. Chinua’s accomplishments as an author set his name in the stone in the literary hall of fame.
His approval was always sought and when he spoke we listened. Reading his last book on the Biafran war “There Was A Country”, he uses the power of literature to take us into a world most of us did not understand or couldn’t be bothered with. As controversial as it was, it did shed more light on those years.
The power of words is what Chinua Achebe left us with. Shortly before his death in March, 2013, he released the novel “There Was A Country”, which was, according to The Guardian, “a lament for Biafra and the decline of Nigeria, which he relates directly to the Biafran war.”. In my opinion, it felt more like his parting words on a country he loved dearly. Amidst all the controversy, he maintained that this novel was his own rendition of how he saw the war.
Sadly, we rarely remember our fallen heroes. Some fought with swords and guns and some fought with the weapon they had at the time – their words. We celebrate Chinua Achebe for his contribution to the literary world, in Africa and at large. We celebrate him for making us understand the power of the words we have. We celebrate the father of African contemporary literature and the master storyteller.
There was a man, his name is Chinua Achebe and his words would forever stand the test of time.