A personal read of Chinua Achebe’s work

Things fall apart coverI think I must have been in college when I first read Things fall apart, by Chinua Achebe.  Certainly I didn’t read it in high school, and I am fairly sure I read it before coming to West Africa in the mid-1970s.  I can’t remember what kind of impression it made at the time, but I know that when I first came to Nigeria, I spent quite a bit of time reading African novels, which were relatively cheaply available then at the University of Ibadan bookshop.  In many ways by this time, the golden era of African literature had passed, but the Heinemann African Writers Series was still very much around, so between the UI library and the bookshop it was easy to find African, and especially Nigerian writing.

Certainly I have read at one point in my life all of Achebe’s novels:

  • Things fall apart – mentioned already, which was originally published in 1958
  • No longer at ease – 1960
  • Arrow of God – 1964; a colleague blogger, Kinnareads recommends this one especially, so I guess it is time for a re-read
  • A man of the people – 1966
  • Anthills of the savannah – 1987 [I read this in hardback, as it was nominated for one of the UK writing prizes, and British Council – when it had a library – was always careful to order prize-nominated books]

In 2009 I read Things fall apart again – this time for Accra Book Club – as an introduction to this very famous book for some members who had never read it.  And I think we will do it again.  For those who have already read it it will be a tribute to the late author; for those for whom it is totally new, I guess I hope they will find it a real eye-opener.

For me, my personal salute to Chinua Achebe, is to set a kind of mini-challenge to myself to read all of his novels again, (and There was a country coverof course since it was so long ago that I read them for the first time, I anticipate it will be a real voyage of discovery).  Plus of course I do have on my TBR shelves his account of the Biafran war, There was a country, which also beckons.

I end on a Ghanaian note

Damirifa due!  Chinua Achebe!   Damirifa due!  May you rest in peace, and your legacy will live on!


Women writers – part of IWD celebrations in Accra

I attended most of an International Women’s Day event at the Alliance Francaise on Friday 8 March in the evening:  Women of the world: Talking about a revolution, partly because I received an invitation from one of the authors involved, and also because I always feel happy to support writers who want to promote themselves and their work.

I admit I didn’t stay till the end – but managed to at least 23.00 [pretty late for some of us who get up really early – before 6am – in order to go to work!]. I enjoyed the combination of music (for and about women) and words, and the Alliance Francaise is a great venue for outdoor events in the evenings.

I will say more at a later time, but it is a great tribute to the organizers, the AWDF, the Alliance Francaise, and the writers, to come together for such an event.

NB:  this post is done as part of an activity organized by @BloggingGhana





February 2013 book/information related activities and reads

A very belated report on my February book/information related activities and reads

I only finished reading four books during February – interestingly all written by males, an even split between
fiction and non-fiction, with three having an African/ African diasporan/ Ghanaian focus.

  • Chicago, by Alaa al Aswamy [this was on my list for the 2012 Africa Reading Challenge!  Stories of the Egyptian diaspora, mostly. Not as good as The Yacoubian building, in my opinion]
  • Pilgrims of the night – Development challenges and opportunities in Africa, edited by Ivor Agyeman-Duah [essays on Africa, loosely connected with an environmental focus]
  • Yes, Chef , by Marcus Samuelsson [memoir by the famous Ethiopian/Swedish chef. Being a enthusiast of books about food, I enjoyed this!  So how can I actually visit his restaurant?]
  • A life apart, by Neel Mukherjee [prize-winning book which has been on my TBR shelf for a long time. A story split between India and the UK, the present and the beginning of the 20th century]

Fastest billion at AshesiBook buying, which of course followed physical visits to bookshops, as opposed to visits to online book sites,
was OK. I bought four non-fiction books (three with an African focus), two novels, two Tintin books (to add to the family collection)  and one collection of Calvin & Hobbes comic strips.

As for book events/activities I could count probably four – though the last one doesn’t strictly have to do with books, though it did involve librarians.

  1. The author of The fastest billion, Charles Robertson, came to Ashesi for a presentation (essentially taken from the book), and of course there were copies of the book for sale, so how could I resist? Plus sales from the book are benefiting Ashesi, so how could I resist?
  2. There was also the monthly gathering of the Accra Book Club – rather sparse in attendance this month, I do admit – with a discussion of Of Africa, by Wole Soyinka. Not the easiest of reads, controversial (naturally), and I have to admit that I have yet to finish this book, though I am not giving up.
  3. No Worries 4th editionThe other bookish activity is a little different. I am a member of NAWA  which raises money for projects through sale of its guide to Accra, No Worries. The first edition came out in 1997, and the most recent edition – the 4th – in 2010. As this is beginning to be out of date, despite several changes on the companion website, it is time to put out a new edition, especially as there are an increasing number of non-Ghanaians coming to live in Accra, who want to know what’s available in this city.  At the moment there are a group of NAWA members working on the new edition, checking and updating entries, adding new ones, selling ads, and so on. I am just a little cog, working with colleagues on a few sections, but it is pretty satisfying. And then there is a role in updating the website…
  4. Bookish matters have blended more into information and electronic ones, and the last activity I wanted to mention pertained to CARLIGH – Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana. Periodically CARLIGH organizes workshops for those working in member institutions (of which there are now nearly 30), and at the end of February there was a two-day event on “Searching e-resources”, which I helped to co-facilitate with a colleague from the University of Ghana, Legon.  Fun, because one always learns something new, and it is very relevant to what many librarians do nowadays.

February 2013 light-off at LapazAgain, my month was busier than I thought, though I still wish I could finish reading more books than I did.  But then there is the ever-present “light-off” phenomenon which has meant that we have only six days in February when the electricity stayed on for a full day! [the red writing indicates light-off]