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Chinua Achebe: Death of the Man of a Continent

Source : | 29 March 2013 |  Arts & Culture | 287 views


By Rachid Khouya

Morocco World News

Smara, Morocco, March 29, 2013

Last week Africa mourned the death of homegrown author Chinua Achebe. The womb of the earth has swallowed the body of this Nigerian pen: a black man with a white heart and an enlightened mind.

Mother Africa will always keep his ideas, novels, and ‘fictional babies’ alive. Things Fall Apart, The Man of the People, No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God will eternally carry the name of a man of the continent and a man of the universe as a whole.

I discovered his first novel Man of the People in 1996. In this masterpiece,Chinua Achebe writes about the so-called intellectuals who have divided “the national cake” and who “had bitten the finger with which their mother fed them” (page 5). He speaks about Africa’s post-independence and how ‘it didn’t matter what you know, but who you know’. For a week, I deprived myself from sleep as I passionately read Man of the People as well Achebe’s three other novels. Ever since, Achebe has held a special place in my heart and mind.

His works have introduced me to the beauty and the wisdom of African literature and the intricacy of its cultural jungles. His scripts are a true mirror of the African reality, its culture, its people and its identity. He was the mouth, the word, the pen, the arm and the sword of an entire continent.

He was an intellectual hero who adamantly believed that writers must use their pens to defend their people literarily and culturally against colonial invasion. Achebe invites us to “think of such a cultureless man going abroad calling himself Minister of Culture.Ridiculous. This is why the outside world laughs at us” (page 23). What Achebe wants to convey for us is that those who think they are men of the people are but selfish white men in black skin.

In brief, a discussion about the man deserves more than a short article. But, this is just an opportunity to remember a man who has taught many Africans how to love who we are, what we are and where we are.

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