On the Death of Chinua Achebe

In the literary world of Chinua Achebe, I am less than a tiny speck but I am desirous of saying a few words on the death of Africa’s greatest. I first heard about Chinua Achebe’s death on Facebook. Somebody was asking whether it was true or not and I completely blanked out. I went into denial! I didn’t want to think about it or believe it! Later I checked it out on the BBC website and it was true.

I still feel numb and I am yet to come to grips with the news. It feels like a huge chunk of Nigeria, and indeed Africa, is gone!

I see Achebe as a writer that blazed a trail for African writing. I see him as a person who had his country buried deep in his heart. He stood up against corruption in his own way when he twice rejected national awards from Nigeria’s leaders.

To me, Achebe’s major achievement was setting the pace for African writing in English. He also showed us that a writer can make a strong statement against corruption.

I believe the world has rewarded Chinua Achebe for pioneering African literature by the respect he enjoyed everywhere on the African continent and even beyond.

Chinua Achebe’s works already speak for him, but Nigeria still has to find a way to immortalise him. Not in some ‘unliterature’ way. The NLNG Prize could be renamed The Chinua Achebe Prize for Literature, for starters. A credible university named after him wouldn’t be bad at all. I think the Nigerian government should collaborate with ANA (which he founded) to work out something very befitting for such a giant of a man!

The best of his influence is yet to come!


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