Beginning this February, the global celebration of Chinua Achebe’s magnum opus, Things Fall Apart, is set to capture the imagination of the literary world. To this end, activities have been lined up in ten African countries and five Nigerian cities.
Coordinated by the Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation, the global leg of the African celebrations will be holding in Ghana, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Togo and Cameroon, culminating in December, 2018.
In Nigeria, the celebrations will take place in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Sokoto, climaxing at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where Achebe used to be a lecturer in the Department of English.
With the theme “Things Fall Apart: 60 Years On”, activities lined up for the diamond anniversary included symposia, children’s carnival, writing competition, stage presentations of Things Fall Apart and a grand finale with a night of tributes.
Addressing newsmen recently in Lagos to flag off the Nigerian celebrations, Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the Things Fall Apart @ 60 Celebrations in Nigeria, who also chaired Achebe’s Burial Committee in 2013, Dr. Wale Okediran, said Achebe had become an institution by virtue of his creative works, and was deserving of the global celebrations.
“Shakespeare has been dead for over 100 years, but he’s still celebrated in the UK. In fact, there’s a thriving tourism industry around him. If you go to his birthplace, Warwickshire, day and night, you will find tourists there. If that can be done for him, what stops us from doing same for Achebe and other literary icons,” he said.
He added, “The fact is that we want to keep the literary flame aglow. We want to show that literature equally matters. Life is not just about politics. It is as important as the economy or cattle colony. We don’t want them to submerge us.
“So, in the Achebe celebration, literature is the focus. We are celebrating Achebe, because of the impact he made on the development of African literature and beyond. We want to show others that if you do your work well as a writer, literature will outlive you. Of course, there is also the need to make the point that even if politics and religion are dividing us, literature is uniting us.”
The trailblazing novel was published by William Heinemann Ltd in the UK in 1958, which instantly placed African literature on world map. It is regarded as the most widely read modern African novel, according to Wikipedia. So far, it has been translated into over 45 languages.
Born in 1930 in Ogidi, Anambra State, Achebe won the Man Booker Prize in 2007. Other notable novels of his are No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, and Anthills of the Savannah. In 1979, he was awarded the Nigerian National Order of Merit.