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Monday, March 25, 2013

New Nigerian Writing and the Next Achebe


Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
Guest blogged by Okiri Christopher Raphael 

If there is any one writer that has taken Nigerian literature to the world, it is Chinua Achebe. His novel, Things Fall Apart, indisputably qualifies as a classic. Chinua Achebe had written several other books, many which are no less worthy of the attention Things Fall Apart has garnered in the course of time. Arrow Of God and No Longer At Ease are two full length novels that immediately succeeds Things Fall Apart. There is no denying the fact that these three books make up a trilogy of note as there is a traceable generational link in the plot and characters of those three great books. There is also The Anthills Of The Savanah, another noteworthy offering by the master writer. In all, the Man is reported to have written over 20 books. He was the editor of the African Writers Series; a collection of myriads of writing across Africa.


There are other books written by the world acclaimed author from Nigeria; Chinua Achebe had dabbled in the realms of other genres of writing like short stories (Girls At War), poetry (Beware Soul Brother), children's story (Chike And The River), and essays. While novel-writing may be Chinua Achebe's forte, he has made several hits with his essays. His recent and lastly published disturbing quasi-autobiography, There Was A Country, could be said to be very successful. As it is the trend with significantly successful books in Nigeria, the book pirates are having a field day at running off cheap re-prints of There Was A Country, and putting them on the streets. No sooner does a copy of There Was A Country lands on the street than it is quickly purchased by a waiting reader. The surplus reviews already on the book may have whetted the appetite of the reading public for what Uncle Achebe has to say. And I heard the man say, in the book, things about the plight of Biafra in the unfortunate last century's civil war in Nigeria. Even before the first print got to the shores of Nigeria, many reviewer and casual readers alike had already, metaphorically, rolled up their sleeves to engage Uncle Chinua Achebe in controversies over the content and intent of the book, however most of the views were based on online excerpts.



Nothing succeeds like success. If there is a successful Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe is it. He is indisputably an icon of African Literature. As characteristically enigmatic as Achebe may be regarded in certain quarters of the Nigerian polity, the man is held in high esteem by the younger generation of Nigerian writers. Now Uncle Achebe is gone, a lacuna is definitely created, one that must be filled soon. Chinua Achebe will always remain an icon of Nigerian, if not African, writing. While there are other living successful Nigerian writers to look up to, like Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri, to name but two, this generation of writer must have one of their own be their standard-bearer. There are brilliant writers out of Nigeria, and they are plenty, but this generation must find one of its own to hold high the standard of contemporary Nigerian Writing; a one who will take the burning torch to the world in the footsteps of Late Uncle Achebe.



This generation is fortunate to still have the contemporaries of Uncle Achebe like Uncle Wole "Kongi" Soyinka, et al, to guide and point it in the right direction. This generation of younger Nigerian Writers is privilege too to have publishers like Farafina, Cassava, Republic, Magic Wand Publishing, Kraft Books, Evans Publishers, Macmillan Books, and Paressia – to name but a handful – to help make of its works, world standard books (in all formats). There are booksellers like Monsuro, Rovingheights, Glendora, Patabah, Bookville, and Debonair Bookstores to make books available to direct consumers. We should be thankful too to have The Rainbow Book Club and Garden City Literary Festival, The Nigerian International Book Fair, Celebrity Read Africa, Book Jam, Book 'N' Gauge to ginger Nigeria's interest and love for books. There is the Association Of Nigerian Authors (ANA) which organises and moderate many literary awards for Nigerian Literature. There is also Promise Ogochukwu's Lumina: organisers of The Wole Soyinka Prize For Literature with her continental reach. Myriads of literary groups, societies, clubs and cabals abound to help mould the next icons for Nigerian writing. In sum, all efforts must be coordinated to keep Nigerian Writing on the global stage, and a Standard-Bearer in the order of Chinua Achebe must emerge from this blooming crop of Nigerian writers: this generation of writers that has its own stories to tell.

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To contact or read more from Okiri Christopher Raphael, do so here.

6 comments:

  1. I was just saying to a friend that it was as though chinue Achebe knew he will die very soon, that's why he released the book " there was a country". Nice piece Okir. www.secretlilies.blogspot.com

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  2. Achebe, will there be another? I will remember Things Fall Apart and There Was a Country for a long time. Nice article.

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  3. I started reading Chinua when I was 9

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  4. @Ibifiri. That was the same thing everybody was thinking too. The publication of the memoir was just so close to his death.

    @Samuel. I don't think there can ever be another Achebe. We can only have more good writers that Achebe's life and writings have influenced.

    @Abdalmasih. Thanks for reading.

    @Tessa. I remember I started reading Achebe when I was so little too, but I can't say what age specifically. We will miss the writer and critic in Achebe.

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  5. There Was a Country is definitely the icing on the cake of Pa Achebe's meticulously-baked literary genius. Not that the book should be taken for the greatest offering from the Master Of African Writing, but that it summed up the man's acumen so deliciously

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