Chinua Achebe: Some reflections

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Chinua-Achebe
Photo: Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

The world lost one of its literary giants today. Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe has died at the age 82.

For Nigerians, Achebe was a national treasure. He was the first African writer to attract international acclaim, and an outspoken leader with far-reaching influence on both politics and culture. Emeka Okafor, who produced the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania 5 years ago and is Achebe’s relative, says, “He was in many ways the conscience of Nigeria. Unflinching in his critiques, a monumental figure.”

For me, Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart (1958) was my first real glimpse at Africa beyond the negative headlines (famine, disease, war) and the nature documentaries. His story was a stark portrayal of the devastating impact of colonization on traditional African societies, told through the lens of a single individual. It changed the way I think, helping me see the much bigger picture behind the headlines from Africa…

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