Achebe: Family requests privacy, as Mandela mourns late novelist

Posted: March 22, 2013 in arts/culture
late prof chinua achebe

late prof chinua achebe

Family of the late Nigerian literary icon, Prof Chinua Achebe, who passed on in the early hours of Friday, in Boston, the United States, has requested privacy as the rest of the country recovers from the shock following the loss of one of the country’s most decorated literalists.

In a statement issued Friday, Achebe’s family requested privacy, just as it praised the novelist for the unrelenting quest in search of truth and justice in the Nigerian society.

“In this hour of our grief, we request privacy for our late patriarch who was also one of the great literary voices of all time. He was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him,” the statement read.

Also reacting, South African Nobel Prize winner and icon, Dr. Nelson Mandela, said that Achebe “brought Africa to the rest of the world” and called him “the writer in whose company the prison walls came down”.

Achebe who lit the year in controversy following the recent release of his book titled; There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, where he had allegedly pointing fingers at some personalities as for negative roles played during the Nigerian Civil War, is also credited with severally rejecting national merit awards.

Early in the year the novelist had his award-winning and multi-translated book, Things Fall Apart, included in the 100 Greatest Novels of all Time list, compiled by both readers, literary critics and writers and announced by the Guardian United Kingdom.

The list that also featured such great fictions as Don Quixote, Lord of the Flies, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Pilgrim’s Progress, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Vanity Fair, The Scarlet Letter, and Moby-Dick.

The Nigerian author, who died from an illness and hospital stay in Boston on Friday morning where he was working as a professor, is easily recognised for key role in developing African literature. Both his agent and publisher have confirmed the news.

Achebe’s Publisher at the Penguin Books, Simon Winder, called the late essayists an “utterly remarkable an,” adding: “Chinua Achebe is the greatest of African writers and we are all desolate to hear of his death.”

Best known abroad for his 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, which has sold more than 10 million copies around the world and has been published in 50 languages, Achebe has won the Commonwealth poetry prize for his collection Christmas in Biafra, was a finalist for the 1987 Booker prize for his novel Anthills of the Savannah, and in 2007 won the Man Booker International Prize for his body of works which also includes Things fall Apart.

The author is also known for the influential essay An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1975), a hard-hitting critique of Conrad in which he says the author turned the African continent into “a metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognisable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril”, asking: “Can nobody see the preposterous and perverse arrogance in thus reducing Africa to the role of props for the break-up of one petty European mind?”


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