Chinua Achebe

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Chinua Achebe (2008)

Albert Chinụalụmọgụ "Chinua" Achebe (born November 16, 1930 in Ogidi , Nigeria ; † March 21, 2013 in Boston , USA) was a Nigerian writer who wrote in English . He is considered one of the fathers of modern African literature .


Achebe was born in Ogidi, Nigeria, the fifth of six children. His family was Igbo and his father was an evangelical catechist. Achebe was taught in a mission school in Ogidi in the 1930s and later attended a college in Umuahia . From 1948 he studied English, history and theology at the University College of Ibadan and graduated in 1953. From 1954 on he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) for twelve years , first in Lagos and from 1958 in Enugu (Nigeria) , as head of their office in the eastern region of the country.

He was married to Christiana Chinwe (Christie) Okoli-Achebe, whom he met in 1958 at NBC. Together they had four children, daughter Chinelo (1962), son Ikechukwu (1964), son Chidi (1967) and daughter Nwando (1970). Nwando Achebe is a historian, feminist, and professor of African history at Michigan State University

During the Nigerian Civil War , he was active on the side of Biafra and traveled between 1967 and 1970 as a special ambassador to the USA and Europe. Two years after the defeat of Biafra, he accepted a professorship at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst between 1972 and 1976 .

From 1976 to 1990 he was professor of literature at the University of Nsukka . In 1979 he opened the first Horizonte Festival of World Cultures in West Berlin . He was visiting professor at a number of British and American universities. In 1990 he was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident in Lagos and moved in a wheelchair. After his recovery he went to the USA and taught for more than 15 years at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson , New York and from 2007 at Brown University .

Achebe was skeptical of authorities and father figures and was critical of politics, the economy and the observance of human rights in his home state. In 2011, in protest against the ongoing corruption in Nigeria, he again refused the title of Commander of the Federal Republic , which is awarded by the Nigerian government.

He died on March 21, 2013 after a brief illness at the age of 82 in Boston, USA.

Work and action

Achebe is considered to be the founder of modern Nigerian literature and one of the world's most outstanding English-speaking writers. His works have been translated into around 50 languages. In doing so, he developed his own style that is based on the storytelling tradition of his homeland. He deliberately renounced European literary conventions, but processed Nigerian stories in his novels. In his own words, "every good story, every good novel , should contain a message, have a purpose".

His first novel Things Fall Apart is now considered a milestone in African literature. The 200-page work was published in English in London in 1958. In it, Achebe tells the story of the Nigerian Igbo in the 1890s. The Bildungsroman describes the economy, culture, traditions, religion and gender relations of a village community in a realistic narrative style. In a second and third part the effects of the new Christian and colonialist influences on village life are presented.

In 1975, he criticized in a speech at the University of Massachusetts the image of Africa in the story Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad , earning first a lot of criticism. Later this criticism was largely recognized as legitimate and recognized as a watershed in Conrad's post-colonial reception.




  • Things Fall Apart . 1958.
    • Okonkwo or The Old Falls . edition suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1983/2002, ISBN 3-518-11138-8 (German first edition in the translation by Richard Moering at Goverts, Stuttgart 1959)
    • Everything falls apart . New edition, translated by Uda Strätling and Reinhild Böhnke . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-3-10-000540-3 .
  • No longer at ease. 1960.
    • Return to a foreign country . Translated by Susanne Koehler. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2002.
  • Arrow of God (1964).
    • The arrow of god . Translated by M. von Schweinitz. Revised by Gudrun Honke. With an afterword by Thomas Brückner. Peter Hammer, Wuppertal 1994.
  • A Man of the People. 1966.
  • Anthills of the Savannah. 1988.
    • Termite mounds in the savannah . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1991/2002.

Short stories

  • The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories. 1962.
  • Girls at War and Other Stories. 1972.
  • African Short Stories. 1984.


  • Beware, Soul-Brother, and Other Poems. 1971.
  • Christmas at Biafra, and Other Poems. 1973.
  • with Dubem Okafor (Ed.): Don't Let Him Die: An Anthology of Memorial Poems for Christofer Okigbo. 1978.
  • as co-editor: Aka Weta: An Anthology of Igbo Poetry. 1982.
  • Collected poems. 2004.


  • An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". 1975.
  • Morning Yet on Creation Day. 1975.
  • The Trouble With Nigeria. 1984.
  • Hopes and Impediments. 1988.
  • Home and Exile. 2000.
  • There was a country. 2012.

Children's books

  • Chike and the River. 1966.
  • with John Iroaganachi : How the Leopard Got His Claws. 1972.
  • The flute. 1975.
  • The drum. 1978.


  • Keith Booker (Ed.): The Chinua Achebe encyclopedia. Greenwood Press, Westport CT et al. 2003, ISBN 0-325-07063-6 .
  • Eckhard Breitinger: Chinua Achebe - founding father of African literature. In: Voices of the Time . Vol. 137, 2012, pp. 45-57.
  • Louise Hawker (Ed.): Colonialism in Chinua Achebe's "Things fall apart". Reprinted edition. Greenhaven Press, Detroit MI et al. 2011, ISBN 978-0-7377-4650-1 .
  • Jago Morrison: The fiction of Chinua Achebe. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke et al. 2007, ISBN 978-1-4039-8671-9 .
  • David Whittaker (Ed.): Chinua Achebe's "Things fall apart". 1958–2008 (= Cross Cultures. CC. Readings in post-colonial Literatures and Cultures in English. Volume 137). Rodopi, Amsterdam et al. 2011, ISBN 978-90-420-3396-2 .

Web links

Commons : Chinua Achebe  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Brown University obituary , accessed March 22, 2014.
  2. a b Anna Auguscik: The Nelson Mandela of literature. In: Zeit Online. March 22, 2013, accessed March 27, 2013 .
  3. a b Biographical information on the marabout page: Chinua Achebe
  4. Ezenwa-Ohaeto: Chinua Achebe: A Biography . Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1997, ISBN 978-0-253-33342-1 , pp. 155 .
  5. Ezenwa-Ohaeto: Chinua Achebe: A Biography . Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1997, ISBN 978-0-253-33342-1 , pp. 191-192 .
  6. a b The monsters at the crossroads. In: FAZ March 22, 2013, accessed on February 26, 2015 .
  7. Ezenwa-Ohaeto: Chinua Achebe: A Biography . Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1997, ISBN 978-0-253-33342-1 , pp. 191-192 .
  8. Nicolas Tredell: Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness . Columbia University Press, New York 2000, ISBN 978-0-231-11923-8 , pp. 71 .
  9. ( Memento from March 28, 2012 in the Internet Archive )