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Lost archive from Achebe’s secondary school recovered

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Chinua Achebe

An academic has reportedly recovered rare historical sources from the school the late literary icon, Chinua Achebe attended in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Terri Ochiagha, a teaching fellow in the History of Modern Africa at King’s College, London, made the recovery. According to Ochiagha, she saved a valuable amount of material while researching for her book titled: Achebe and Friends at Umuahia, The Making of a Literary Elite.

The resources recovered include a notebook of lessons from the English teacher who taught Achebe, links between a piece in the school journal, The Eastern Star, which Achebe edited, and his masterpiece, Things Fall Apart.

She also recovered archives of other famous writers who were also Achebe’s school friends. They include Elechi Amadi, Chike Momah, Christopher Okigbo, Chukwuemeka Ike, Ken Saro-Wiwa and I.C. Aniebohe.

Her publicist, Catherine Watts, said Ochiagha recovered the materials after she contacted Government College Umuahia alumni, the teachers and their family members who had personal archives.

“Most of the archives of the British colonial boarding school Government College, Umuahia, were lost during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1971). I also uncovered experiences of Achebe’s school friends Elechi Amadi, Chike Momah, Christopher Okigbo, Chukwuemeka Ike, Ken Saro-Wiwa and I.C. Aniebohe .”

Government College, Umuahia is known among literary critics around the world for being the alma mater of eight important Nigerian writers: Achebe, Amadi, Gabriel Okara, Momah, I. N. C. Aniebo, Ike, Saro-Wiwa and Okigbo.

Ochiagha, who holds a PhD in Anglophone Literatures and Cultures (specialising in African Literature) from Complutense University, Madrid, also recovered two significant written pieces of juvenilia (works produced by an author or artist while still young) in their original form from Amadi and Ike.

According to Ochiagha, the publication of the paperback edition of Achebe & Friends in April would coincide with the 60th anniversary of the publication of Achebe’s classic, Things Fall Apart.


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Chinua Achebe
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