CHINUA ACHEBE: GET TO KNOW HIM

On the day Nigeria is celebrating her Independence day, it’s only right to write about one of the greatest personalities of this country.

Here, I’ll tell you about Nigeria famous novelist, Chinua Achebe. His biography, awards and things you didn’t know about him.

CHINUA ACHEBE

The richly African stories of Chinua Achebe re-create the old ways of Nigeria’ Igbo people and recall the intrusion of Western customs upon their traditional values. Achebe was Nigeria’s first world-famous novelist.

Chinua Achebe

The fifth of six children of Isaiah and Janet Achebe, Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria on November 16, 1930.

His father was a teacher with the Church Missionary Society. When he was 5, his father retired and the family moved to their ancestral village of Ogidi.

When Chinua was 12, he left home to live with an older brother, John, who taught at a school in Nekede, 60 miles away. He eventually earned a scholarship to Government College, a secondary school in Umuahia.

Young Chinua Achebe

After a short time as a teacher, Achebe became a producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in Lagos in 1954.

‘Things Fall Apart’ (1958) was Achebe’s first novel, about a tragic hero in an Africa torn between the old order and the new. For his contribution to African literature, Achebe was awarded the Margaret Wong Memorial Prize in 1959, the first of his many literary awards.

In 1961, Achebe became the first director of external broadcasting in Nigeria for the British Broadcasting Corporation. He married Christiana Chinwe Okoli that same year.

AWARDS

1. International Booker Prize, 2007

2. Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, 2002

3. The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, 2010

4. St. Louis Literary Award, 1999

THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT HIM

• HIS REAL NAME IS NOT CHINUA

He was named Albert Chinualumogu Achebe. His name was shortened to Chinua when he got admitted into the Dennis Memorial Grammar School in Onitsha.

• TOO STUDIOUS

At Government College Umuahia, Because Achebe did not fit into the school sport team he belonged instead to a group of six exceedingly studious pupils. So intense were their study habits that the headmaster banned the reading of textbooks from five to six o’clock in the afternoon. One teacher also described him as the student with the best handwriting in class, and the best reading skill.

• EVERYONE LOVES HIM

Nelson Mandela is among his biggest fans. When he was asked what he did to keep himself busy in his 27 years of incarceration in apartheid South Africa, Mandela said: “There was a writer named Chinua Achebe, in whose company the prison walls fell down.”
About 2,000 people packed a stadium in Anambra state capital Awka when his coffin was put on display.

• THE MOST TRANSLATED AFRICAN WRITER OF ALL TIME

His best-selling and first novel, “Things Fall Apart” (1958), is the most widely read book in modern African literature, selling over 8 million copies around the world. It was translated into 50 languages, making Achebe the most translated African writer of all time.

• HE BECAME PARALYSED

On 22 March 1990, Achebe was riding in a car to Lagos when an axle collapsed and the car flipped. His son Ikechukwu and the driver suffered minor injuries, but the weight of the vehicle fell on him which left him paralysed from the waist down.

• ONE OF THE MOST HONOURED LITERARY ICONS OF ALL TIME

He won several awards over the course of his writing career, including the Man Booker International Prize (2007) and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2010). He recieved an Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1982 and He has also received honorary degrees from more than 30 universities around the world. He turned down the title of Commander of the Federal Republic, a national honour in 2004 and 2011.

• HE NEVER RECEIVED A NOBEL PRIZE

Despite his scholarly achievements and the global importance of his work, He never received a Nobel Prize, which some observers viewed as unjust. In 1988 when he was asked by a reporter for Quality Weekly how he felt about never winning a Nobel Prize; Achebe replied: “My position is that the Nobel Prize is important. But it is a European prize. It’s not an African prize … “

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