Father Of African Literature’ Chinua Achebe Dies Aged 82

Nigerian novelist and poet Chinua Achebe, who first made his mark with 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, has reportedly died aged 82 . Report...

Nigerian novelist and poet Chinua Achebe, who first made his mark with 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, has reportedly died aged 82 .
Reports from Nigeria suggest he died this morning at a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts of an undisclosed ailment.

Sources quoted in the Premium Times said he had been unwell for some time and was hospitalised earlier this week.

The unnamed source declined to release further information but said the family would issue a statement later today.

Right up until his death Achebe worked as Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University and was the David and Marianna University Professor.

Attempts to contact Brown University for comment have not been successful.

Achebe is known as the "father of modern African literature", and made his name writing about the history of Nigeria.

Things Fall Apart, set amid 1890s Nigeria and the influx of Christian missionaries, is renowned the world over, has been translated into 50 languages and has sold more than 10 million copies.

The novel takes its title from WB Yeats's 1919 poem "The Second Coming": "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

In 2007 Achebe won the Man Booker International Prize for his “overall contribution to fiction on the world stage”.

Nelson Mandela called him "the writer in whose company the prison walls came down", and credited him as the author who "brought Africa to the rest of the world"

Achebe's other novels include Arrow of God (1964); A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). He has also published four children's books (including Chike and the River and How the Leopard Got His Claws), short stories and poetry in English and Igbo.

His 1975 lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' is still available in paperback from Penguin Classics. In it, he says that "Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist" and points out that there are only six words spoken by Africans in the whole of Heart of Darkness.

Achebe was born in Ogidi, Anambra State, on November 16, 1930. At the age of 12 he moved several kilometres away from his family to Nekede to attend the Central School there before attending Government College Umuahia for his secondary school education.

He was one of the first students to attend the University College, now University of Ibadan in 1948. Having first opted to study medicine he switched to English, history and theology after his first year.

After winning his degree Achebe taught at Ibadan before joining the Nigeria Broadcasting Service in 1954.

He met his wife Christie Okoli while in Lagos and the couple married in 1961 going on to have four children.

During the Nigeria Civil War Achebe joined the Biafran Government as an ambassador. He wrote about his experiences in his last book, There Was A Country.

MP David Lammy wrote on Twitter this morning: "RIP Chinua Achebe.Wonderful writer and campaigner who said "One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised."
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