By The Independent Team
Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, best known for his novel “Things Fall Apart” and widely referred to as the father of modern African literature, has died aged 82.
Local media reported that he died in a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
Born in Nigeria in 1930, Chinua Achebe attended the University of Ibadan. In 1958, his ground breaking novel Things Fall Apart was published. It has since sold more than 12 million copies and been translated into more than 50 languages.
Achebe’s literature shaped an understanding of Africa from an African perspective more than any other author and was a yardstick against which generations of African writers have been judged.
He was a persistent critic of corruption and misrule in Nigeria, where endemic graft has robbed Africa’s biggest oil producer of massive sums of public money.
Achebe never hesitated to turn harsh words on his home country, publishing a pamphlet in 1983, “The Trouble With Nigeria”, excoriating its corruption and condemning it as “dirty, callous, noisy, ostentatious, dishonest and vulgar. In short it is among the most unpleasant places on earth.”
“The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility,” he wrote, words which chimed with the feelings of many Nigerians.
In 2004, he turned down the title ‘Commander of the Federal Republic’ offered to him by then President Olusegun Obasanjo, replying that he was appalled by the cliques who had turned Nigeria into “a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom”.
He also strongly backed his native Biafra in Nigeria’s 1967-1970 civil war which killed around one million people which was the subject of a long-awaited memoir he published last year.
In 1972 he moved to Massachusetts and since then spent much of his time in the United States, with occasional spells in Nigeria.
He had lived and worked as a professor in the United States in recent years, most recently at Brown University in Rhode Island.
Achebe has been called “the father of modern African writing”, and many books and essays have been written about his work over the past fifty years. In 1992 he became the first living writer to be represented in the Everyman’s Library collection published by Alfred A. Knopf. His 60th birthday was celebrated at the University of Nigeria by “an international Who’s Who in African Literature”.
Chinua Achebe won several awards over the course of his writing career, among them the Man Booker International Prize (2007) and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2010). He has also received honorary degrees from more than 30 universities around the world.