Chinua Achebe, is not father of African Literature

2013-05-23 05:22

The purpose of literature I suppose is to present the world and people’s difficulties and struggles within it. The end tail of a great work of literature whether it is a novel or play or poetry is to widen our minds so as to help us deal with situations that daily confronts us. Literature should profoundly help us by enriching our personal experiences so as to make us meet our daily challenges and struggles.

Chinua Achebe has been lauded and his literary prowess praised beyond measure. The most recent eulogy came on the eve of his passing on; he is being called the father of African literature. I have often been inquisitive why the Western countries accepted Chinua Achebe’s writings and promoted them far and extensive beyond. The Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has since stood up and condemned these people who call Chinua Achebe the father of African literature in an exclusive interview with Sahara Reporters.

Chinua Achebe was a helpful storyteller to the West. He helped Europe and America by telling them stories of Africans’ experiences at the point of their encounter with the white people. He was able to tell them how Igbo society reacted to the West. But while telling these stories he constructed Africa and African men as weak people.

Take a look at Things Fall Apart which is undisputed Chinua Achebe’s largest, the best, greatest, most popular, or most renowned literary achievement. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe brings in the main character Okonkwo - a brutish neurotic person.

Chinua Achebe’s main characters in most of his novels are generally weak men, unable to deal with tough situations sometimes the characters are simply depraved scoundrels.

In No Longer at Ease the chief character, Obi Okonkwo is a fickle wavering man who find difficulty to make up his mind, particularly in such natural basic things like marriage. Obi Okonkwo is spirited and torn apart. He finds himself in a hard place in making simple natural decision whether to marry an Osu girl or not.

In Arrow of God Achebe deepens his characteristic weakness portrayal of Africa presenting a needless comparison of African religions with Christianity.

In Man of the people we are confronted with a petty thief who is motivated by desire to enrich his pocket at the expense of the public good.

In Anthills of the Savanna, we are confronted with a character that is furious with Africa - shaking head and waving his fist on Nigeria’s politics.

In the Trouble with Nigeria we hear Achebe’s opinions on what is wrong with Nigeria and how to fix it.

The last book that Chinua Achebe wrote is There was a country. The book has angered some Nigerians. The title of the book is self evident; Nigeria used to be a country but now is no longer a country.

That is the general trend you find in Chinua Achebe’s writings. There are no pointers to geniuses and character only trouble and weakness. The other African writers have taken on the importance and value of African societies. African writers like Ngugi wa Thiong'oand locally within South Africa OK Matsepe who wrote great novels in Sepedi during the 1950s and 1960s the same era Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart, elevating the greatness of African men and their wisdom is solving deep convoluted multi-layered complex society cases at kgorong (African royal courts).

Chinua Achebe lived in the United States of America most of his adult life and even in his eighties at old age he remained in America and did not see any need to return to Africa, Nigeria for peaceful rest in the land of his birth.


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