I 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 of 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!