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By. Nwachukwu Joshua

When a child is born, although we do not think of it, it is inevitable and a guaranteed fact that he/she must die, but what is not known is when, where and how.

The name Chinua Achebe, which is recognised in and outside the shores of not only Nigeria but Africa, is a name that has attracted numerous appellations and praises.

When we hear of Chinua Achebe, one may be tempted to think- because of his greatness and achievements- that he was neither born nor sucked his mother breast.

Notwithstanding his greatness, it did not extend to the fact of him defying the natural process of procreation; he was born on November 16, 1930 in the village of Ogidi to Isaiah and Janet Achebe.  At the time of his birth, many people did not know including his parents and relatives that he would be an African literary titan and when he was going to die.

As such the world received with rude shock, the death of Chinua Achebe on 21st March, 2013.

I knew about his death from a friend who I had asked to get me There Was a Country, when I got the text I was surprised, because I thought nature would have the least respect to exempt some beautiful persons from the hand of death. You know people like Chinua Achebe were so good that I thought they would not die. Afterwards it seems I was wrong. Death is very independent of man’s thoughts including mine.

Although, physically, Achebe is very far from with us, he was lucky to be on the stage for a long time, and he played his role beautifully and his foot print unlike others would not easily be forgotten, on the other hand, this indelible marks of his which has left a bold print on the pages of time gives us the compelling task to learn both from his mistakes and good examples.

Achebe with his life challenges us to be great, and different, borrowing the words of motivational speakers, to find the You in you.

Just like in our times where there is a craze for bright student to study either Medicine, engineering or law, that craze was very much in existence in the 1960 when Achebe went to study medicine under a bursary, but after a gruelling work , not minding losing his bursary  he changed to English. Am sure then people would have looked down on him for such a degrading choice. But through his pen he brought Nigeria to a positive lime light and showed that the African continent is rich not only with mineral resources and corrupt leaders, but also with greatly talented persons, with his works he built a bridge for African writers to showcase to the world the splendour of their literary gifts. His disciples include, Chimamanda Adiche, James Ngugi and a good friend of mine Chinwuba Iyizoba, author of ‘After the Juju Man’

Achebe challenges us to use our gift in so far as they are honourable for the common good. He also teaches that to make a positive impact in our society and to have a life of meaning we must not be doctors or lawyers, or have the World Bank at our finger tips, we can use our gifts no matter how little and insignificant.

This is a call to parents not to frustrate their children by demanding, their children or wards do ‘professional courses’. Rather they should help their children utilize their potentials i.e. to be the best in whatever they can and want to do and change society.

They are many Nigerians who have the gift of writing, singing, comedy, dancing, painting, and a lot more. These are areas which the government in collaboration with families and schools should pay attention to, rather than forcing students to abandon this gift and read medicine or law. With things not only do dreams become fulfilled but also the opportunities for jobs become very broad and varied. What would have happened if Achebe became a doctor?

It is good to sound the clarion call that no course is more important than the other or none is useless. I have been in the midst of students who sometimes feel ashamed of their courses.

They should not, rather they should see how to make their course lively and attractive and if possible important. In the times of Achebe, Nigerian literature was not vibrant, but with Chinua Achebe it made Nigerian and African literature, a must read, it created a situation, where to be a complete human person is dependent on reading Things Fall Apart.

His demise is heavy and I condole with his family members, the world was lucky to have had Achebe, I also thank the family for sharing him with us.



  1. I quite agree with you. At conception we are endowed with a lot of talents and gifts. These natural endowments begin to manifest even while we are still very young. If you observe the life of little children, you will see that they usually exhibit these talents in minute forms even while they are playing. When they grow older, they will start developing passion for such gifts. At this stage, parents begin to intervene in their area of passion. Such act may result to misunderstanding between the parents and their wards. When such misunderstanding occur, the children get frustrated.

  2. Chinua Achebe became a star we know today because he was given the opportunity to express himself.
    How many young ones among us do we give the encouragement to become the star in them.
    How many governors, presidents, and change agents have we terminated their lives as a result of abortion?
    How many children on the streets begging, in motherless babies homes, in rural areas have we shown love and care to?
    We have grossly discouraged them as a result of our actions and that of our parents by siphoning funds meant for their well being, development and maximum productivity. We do this on daily basis directly and indirectly. When are we going to realise that we are killing the future of our nation everyday? Why are we so blind?

  3. Not a fan of the guy or any nigerian author. But he is someone worth remembering.. The old man ain’t dead he is alive in each and everyone of his book and when ever we read them (though i’m not gonna) we feel his in our hearts and minds. When ever we use his vocabularies, we smile because we know we preach Chinua…..

  4. When I first read things fall apart, I was struck by Achebe’s power of description, He captured the Ibo culture in its native form and yes, I was influenced by his ability to tell several stories within a story. His naratives were simple, and his style lucid. I loved the scene in “Things fall apart” when Ogbuefi Ezeudo dies and several masquerades came to pay him their last respect, at last came Ekwensu,though small in stature was king of the masquerades. Walking up to corpse, ekwensu said, ‘Ezeudo, if you were a poor man, I would have said bring wealth when you return in your next life, but you were rich; if you were a coward, I would have said bring courage on your return, but your were brave, and if you had died in your youth I would have said bring youth when you return, but you died old. So I say, Ezeudo return as you are.”

  5. for those of us who pray for 23 hours and spend 1 hour waiting for the miracle to happen, an excerpt from the classic Things Fall Apart, when Okonkwo’s father went to complain to the priestess Agbala about his poor harvest seems interesting:
    “Every year,” he said sadly, “before I put any crop in the earth, I sacrifice a cock to Ani, the owner of all land. It is the law of our fathers. I also kill a cock at the shrine of Ifejioku, the god of yams. I clear the bush and set fire to it when it is dry. I sow the yams when the first rain has fallen, and stake them when the young tendrils appear. I weed-”
    “Hold your peace!” screamed the priestess, her voice terrible as it echoed through the dark void. “You have offended neither the gods nor your fathers. And when a man is at peace with his gods and his ancestors, his harvest will be good or bad according to the strength of his arm…Go home and work like a man.”

  6. I never really gave Achebe much attention until i heard of his death. Of course i had come across some of his books like Anthills of the Savannah, and Things Fall Apart, but i read the latter just like i would read any other interesting novel. I was reading There was a Country, when my Course Representative announced in class, Achebe’s death. Up until that moment, the read the book just because i had heard about it, and was curious to know why it was critisized. The news came as a shock to me, because i thought Achebe will always be there to write more good books, and to be a living testimony of the fact that Africa and particularly, Nigeria, has great intellectual resources.From then on, I began to read the book with a totally different motive. I paid more attention to his use of words, his poems, the way he represented things, his nature or character, infact i wanted to know everything about him. Sadly, I only started appreciating his contribution to african literature when he died. Little wonder people say that “You get to know the value of something when you lose it”. He is truly a genius of Literature, and he has made an imprint on the Nigerian society, that may never be washed away. He is an achiever. May his soul rest in peace.

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