Thursday, May 2, 2013

Achebe: Tribute To A Crusader

From Ghana-

Where writing meets advocacy, passion meets teaching, and philosophy meets sacrifice, there you find Professor

Professor Achebe did not come to this task from a military background. Indeed he was never part of any pressure group. But he did come from a job in journalism, to be precise, from the post of Editor of University Herald during his third year at University College, Ibadan where his interaction with his white instructors helped him realise that if Africa’s story must be told, it must be told by Africans themselves. According to him, “finding that inner creative spark required introspection, deep personal scrutiny, and conviction, and this was not something anybody could really teach me.” 

Furthermore, he learnt from the shortcomings of his white teachers that despite their excellent minds and backgrounds they were not capable of teaching across cultures. He began thinking about becoming a writer after reading some appalling novels about Africa written by Europeans. These led him conclude”that the story we had to tell could not be told for us by anyone else no matter how well intentioned.” In time, he wrote Things Fall Apart, and with it launched the first salvo in what proved to be a long battle against the white man’s literary imperialism.

 He earned his crust from writing and teaching, but his abiding interest was in advocacy and his gift, or rather one of them, was to defend African art, culture, and people in ways that made sense to non-Africans. Many of them not only understood what he wrote but also became infected with his love of Africa, of its past and of its growing susceptibility to change. For close to 60 years, beginning with the writing of Things Fall Apart, he carried on a legendary one-man crusade against arrogance, prejudice, contempt, levity, racism, ethnicity, and bad governance.

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