THINGS FALL APART

Nigerian poet, novelist, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)

Nigerian poet, novelist, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)

800px-Things_Fall_Apart_books_02

CHINUA ACHEBE was a Nigerian poet and novelist. His first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) is his major work and is said to be the most widely read book in modern African literature. He is considered the founding father of African literature in English.

Listen to a short interview with Achebe‘s daughter in pop-out player on BBC’s Witness. Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart “was set in pre-colonial rural Nigeria and examines how the arrival of foreigners – imposing their own traditions – led to tensions within the Igbo society. The book revolutionised African culture, and began a whole new genre of world literature. Witness radio program hears from Achebe’s youngest daughter, Nwando Achebe.”

Refugee Mother and Child Poem

No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours

of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most

mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –

singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she

did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.

– Chinua Achebe, Collected Poems

“Charity . . . is the opium of the privileged.”  Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah

RELATED:

Africa’s Voice, Nigeria’s Conscience, New York Times
The Sacrificial Egg, The Atlantic