Achebe’s Works Embrace and Enlighten Generations

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News of the death of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, 82, inspired author Tremell McKenzie, “When I reread the classic [Things Fall Apart] as an adult, I understood the genius of Achebe, as I was brought face-to-face with an Africa I didn’t even know existed. What I discovered was that Achebe used his words to change a perspective and shed quite a different light on ‘the dark continent’ written about by the likes of Phillis Wheatley. I gained an understanding and appreciation of Africa and its people—and understood the connection I had to it all.”

She continues, “What Achebe set out to do (and what he actually accomplished in Things Fall Apart), is paint a complete picture of a particular culture, giving voice to the horrors and exploitations of colonialism as it actually played out all over the world. Set in the 1890s, the book is about the conflict between the indigenous Igbo people and Nigeria’s white colonial government. Achebe carefully and vividly portrays the advanced social structure and traditions that are already in place that the Europeans worked to eradicate without thought.”