USAfricaonline.com, first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet, is listed among the world's hot sites by the international newspaper, USAToday. USAfrica has been cited by the New York Times as America's largest African-owned multimedia company. 8303 SW Freeway, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77074. Phone: 713-270-5500. Cell direct: 832-45-CHIDO (24436)

On the Prof. Chinua Achebe book project, log on to
www.Achebebooks.com

 

08-08-08:

Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart': time for Nobel prize for Literature has come -- says Prof. Lindfors at USAfrica Best of Africa 080808 events in Houston; challenges Nobel committee to do what's right and deserving....


Achebe honored with USAfrica 1st Lifetime Achievement award at celebration of 50 years of 'Things Fall Apart'  
USAfrica celebrates 50 years of 'THINGS FALL APART' with international tribute to Chinua Achebe at 15th Anniversary of USAfrica in Houston weekend Friday August 8 (symposium/poetry) n Saturday August 9 (banquet/award), 2008.

 

Houston, Texas. August 13, 2008: As the world awaits the release of Prof. Chinua Achebe's latest work, a 179-page collection of seventeen autobiographical essays called Reflections of a British Protected Child, an intriguing, familiar issue: the award of the next Nobel Prize for Literature, turned a key issue at the USAfrica Harvest of Achebe international symposium in Houston, Texas. 


Bernth Lindfors, the distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and African Literatures at the University of Texas at Austin and keynote speaker at the USAfrica 080808 celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Chinua Achebe's literary classic, 'Things Fall Apart' addressed the contentious issue by calling the attention of the Nobel Prize for Literature committee to what millions of people and readers continue to take exception to: its denial of the worthy honor of its highest literature prize to Achebe, one of the most gifted, celebrated and creative writers in the world. 

Prof. Lindfors,  leading teacher of Achebe's 'Things fall Apart' novel for 33 years, told the USAfrica conferees/scholars  that this might be the time the Nobel Committee makes it up and does the right thing to the venerable Achebe. "I think his time will come. It will be a belated recognition. I remember, I was in Nairobi (Kenya) when the announcement of  Wole Soyinka's Nobel Prize occurred and my colleagues at the University of Nairobi were [surprised]. They thought Achebe should have been the first one...." 

Various discussions by other scholars and participants at the USAfrica Best of Africa 080808 reflected on Chinua Achebe's body of ground-breaking works, comparative outlook on culture, identity, religion, education, colonialism, post-colonialism, the issue of Achebe not being honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature, with many arguing and hoping it will happen soon.  

Houston-based USAfrica (characterized by The New York Times as the largest and most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks) is celebrating the 15th Anniversary of its pioneering multimedia leadership of the bi-continental interests of Africans and Americans by honoring Prof. Achebe. The convener and chief host of the harvest of Achebe events is Chido Nwangwu, the Founder & Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com, AchebeBooks.com, Azikiwe.org, AchebeThingsFallApart.com, CLASSmagazine, The Black Business Journal, BBJonline.com, PhotoWorks.TV, etc. 

 

Friday AUGUST 8, 2008
USAfrica's HARVEST OF ACHEBE: 50 YEARS OF ACHEBE'S 'THINGS FALL APART''
Panel Discussionss, Presentations and Debates

9:00 - 10.30 am (Registration, Breakfast and Welcome) 

10:30 -1:30 pm (keynoters/panels/Q&A) 

1:35 - 2:50 p.m  - Lunch 

3:30 - 6:30 p.m.  - Presentations/Submissions/Reviews

9pm-12midnight. PoetryFest and Inspirations of Things Fall Apart. USAfrica 080808 lead poet is Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo, and others. Achebe: inspiration for new generation, writers and artists . Readings From Things Fall Apart. 



Saturday AUGUST 9, 2008
9:00- 10.30 am (Breakfast)  

7.30pm: USAfrica 15th Anniversary Banquet/Achebe Honors/Dinner


Request tickets via e-mail: USAfrica15@Gmail.com
The events require registration; deadline June 8, 2008. e-mail USAfrica15@Gmail.com. Online REGISTRATION and additional info will be available here and our related platforms from February 1, 2008. Thumbnail preview now online at www.USAfricaonline.com/usafrica15.html

Guests who register before the June 8, 2008 deadline will get a copy of Prof. Chinua Achebe's ground-breaking novel 'Things Fall Apart' and other items. For at-the-door registrations at the August 9, 2008 Dinner, tickets are available for the invitation-only banquet event. Due to major requests, Limited seats are available, first come served.



Venue/accommodation: Marriott Hotel Westchase, Houston. 2900 Briarpark Drive, Houston, Texas 77042 USA. Phone: 1-713-978-7400.

Event E-mail: USAfrica15@Gmail.com -- Office: 713-270-5500 -- wireless: 832-45-CHIDO (24436). USAfrica, 8303 Southwest Freeway, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77074

The 08-08-08 weekend events are being organized by USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com, CLASSmagazine, PhotoWorks.TV, The Black Business Journal, BBJonline.com, USAfricaTV and Achebebooks.com



USAfrica's first magazine edition was published in July 1993. USAfrica was established in 1992, in Houston, Texas by multimedia media executive, writer and television broadcaster
Chido Nwangwu. He is the convener and chief host of the harvest of Achebe events.



USAfricaonline.com, first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet, is listed among the world's hot sites by the international newspaper, USAToday.
USAfrica has been cited by the New York Times as America's largest African-owned multimedia company. 8303 SW Freeway, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77074.
Phone: 713-270-5500. Cell direct: 832-45-CHIDO (24436)


On the Prof. Chinua Achebe project, log on to www.Achebebooks.com
www.PhotoWorks.TV : Our community's digital domain for your pictures and special events
CLASS magazine 'the Ebony magazine for Africans in north America'

Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart': time for Nobel prize for Literature has come -- says Prof. Lindfors at USAfrica Best of Africa 080808 events in Houston; challenges Nobel committee to do what's right and deserving....


Achebe honored with USAfrica 1st Lifetime Achievement award at celebration of 50 years of 'Things Fall Apart'  
       

www.USAfricaonline.com/achebe.lindfors.chido2008.html

Houston, Texas. August 13, 2008: As the world awaits the release of Prof. Chinua Achebe's latest work, a 179-page collection of seventeen autobiographical essays called Reflections of a British Protected Child, an intriguing, familiar issue: the award of the next Nobel Prize for Literature, turned a key issue at the USAfrica Harvest of Achebe international symposium in Houston, Texas. 


Bernth Lindfors, the distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and African Literatures at the University of Texas at Austin and keynote speaker at the USAfrica 080808 celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Chinua Achebe's literary classic, 'Things Fall Apart' addressed the contentious issue by calling the attention of the Nobel Prize for Literature committee to what millions of people and readers continue to take exception to: its denial of the worthy honor of its highest literature prize to Achebe, one of the most gifted, celebrated and creative writers in the world. 

Prof. Lindfors,  leading teacher of Achebe's 'Things fall Apart' novel for 33 years, told the USAfrica conferees/scholars  that this might be the time the Nobel Committee makes it up and does the right thing to the venerable Achebe. "I think his time will come. It will be a belated recognition. I remember, I was in Nairobi (Kenya) when the announcement of  Wole Soyinka's Nobel Prize occurred and my colleagues at the University of Nairobi were [surprised]. They thought Achebe should have been the first one...." 

Various discussions by other scholars and participants at the USAfrica Best of Africa 080808 reflected on Chinua Achebe's body of ground-breaking works, comparative outlook on culture, identity, religion, education, colonialism, post-colonialism, the issue of Achebe not being honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature, with many arguing and hoping it will happen soon. 

Prof. Lindfors, founder of the journal of African literary studies, Research in African Literatures, said  he felt the ongoing global celebrations and expositions of the 50th anniversary of Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart' show, in part, the universal creative reach and acceptance of the novel. Lindfors who got his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1969, outlined the worldwide celebration of 'Things Fall Apart' from Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe through North and South America by several organizations including the Modern Language Association.  He commended USAfrica for championing and hosting the international exposition on Achebe's works the weekend of 080808. USAfrica has been assessed by The New York Times and other key American organizations as the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks.

The USAfrica Harvest of Achebe host/convener Chido Nwangwu declared open the event by noting  that "we honor Achebe because he reflects uncommon decency and iron-clad commitment to values which uplift all cultures and heritage while confronting racist scholarship and ill-informed stereotypes. Achebe portrays the Igbo nation and by extension many parts of Africa as communities where hard work can transport you from the pits of poverty to the pinnacle of prosperity as Okonkwo's farming prowess showed, amidst all the existential contradictions and tragic twists of life, especially Okonkwo's life." Chido who serves as Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, first African-owned U.S-based professional newspaper published on the internet, stated that "in many ways, Achebe is timeless; he's ancient and modern. He carries forth his message to the world in ways which artfully find meaning and resonance across cultures, demographics, gender and all manner of platforms" 
related insight:USAfricaonline LITERATURE: Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century.

The two-day (August 8 and 9, 2008) event at the Houston Westchase Marriott Hotel featured a series of  scholarly,  inter-disciplinary forums on the landmark literary work 'Things Fall Apart'  all-day friday and a poetryfest at night on Friday the 8th.  It was followed by the 'Best of Africa' banquet on Saturday the 9th  where Achebe was honored with the 1st USAfrica Lifetime Achievement award.  The event, which marked the 15th anniversary of Houston-based USAfrica, featured scholars on Africa, African literature, political economy, and religion, new voices in the world of writing/literature, public policy executives, leaders in government and communities, book publishers and retailers, teachers, students and librarians, information technology specialists, dramatists and artistes. 

Some of the panelists and contributors include Prof. Elias Bongmba of Rice University, Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo, Prof. Tony Afejuku of the University of Benin, Dr. Romanus Muoneke of St. Thomas University and an author of a book on Achebe, Dr. Gary Maxey of the West Africa Theological Ministries (WATS) Lagos, University of Edinburgh's Dr. Afe Adogame, Prof. Chigbo Ofong, financial management specialist Blaize Kaduru, Sylveria Ogu, a High School teacher in Houston, Nidhi Trehan of the political science department of the University College London and a practitioner in the areas of human rights and migration policy, Dr. Ben Idowu, Nigerian Foundation's Dr. Emeaba Emeaba, Mazi Eni Kanu, Kimberly Nichols of CAMAC, Atorrney James Okorafor, Dr. Darlington Ndubuike, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Okorie, Afripol's Emeka Chiakwelu, Judge Tola Oresusi, and several scholars and community leaders.



The USAfrica Harvest of Achebe conference report will be published, soon.
contact info: USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and AchebeBooks.com. 8303 SW Freeway, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77074
Phones: 713-270-5500; wireless: 832-45-CHIDO (24436). E-mail: AchebeBooks@Gmail.com and Chido247@Gmail.com



Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century

Special to USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal
(First written on March 1, 2002, for USAfrica, updated for Prof. Achebe's 74th Birthday tribute on November 16, 2004, and published in CLASS magazine same month)
http://www.usafricaonline.com/chido.achebebest.html


Africa's most acclaimed and fluent writer of the English Language, the most translated writer of Black heritage in the world, broadcaster extraordinaire, social conscience of millions, cultural custodian and elevator, chronicler and essayist, goodwill ambassador and man of progressive rock-ribbed principles, the Eagle on the Iroko, Ugo n'abo Professor Chinua Achebe, has recently been selected by a distinguished jury of scholars and critics (from 13 countries of African life and literature) as the writer of the Best book (Things Fall Apart, 1958) written in the twentieth century regarding Africa. Reasonably, Achebe's message has been neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime. He's our pathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans and lovers of the fine art of good writing. Achebe's cultural contexts are, at once, pan-African, globalist and local; hence, his literary contextualizations soar beyond the confines of Umuofia and any Igbo or Nigerian setting of his creative imagination or historical recall.

His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective of the true essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing and disposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures) this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce, juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of the vitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... it is a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude while taking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community. I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, the rigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed in most of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, because I share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a brief sentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle on the Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one like you!
Ugo n'abo, chukwu gozie gi oo!


Chinua Achebe, Africa's most acclaimed and fluent writer of the English Language, our pathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans and lovers of the fine art of good writing, was only 28 years when he wrote the classic, Things Fall Apart, in 1958 -- long before I was born. In the year 2005, that magnum opus of a novel by Achebe had been translated into 60 languages, sold almost 16 million copies and loisted among the world's best 100 novels. He has been translated in more languages than any other writer in the developing world.

Reasonably, Achebe's message has been neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime.

Let's go back 30-something months ago. On February 18, 2002, a distinguished jury of scholars and critics (from 13 countries of African life and literature) selected Achebe as the writer of the Best book, 'Things Fall Apart.' In Achebe's works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... it is a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude while taking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community. I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, the rigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed in most of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, because I share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a brief sentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good!

Let's go to October 15, 2004. I was informed that Prof. Achebe,had taken the extraordinary step of "declining to accept the high honor awarded me in the 2004 Honors List" by Nigeria's president, retired army General Olusegun Obasanjo (born on March 5, 1937).

In Achebe's October 2004 letter to the presidency of Nigeria, the eminent writer and statesman Achebe informed President Obasanjo, that "Nigeria's condition today under your watch is, however, too dangerous for silence. I must register my disappointment and protest...." Achebe pointed to the issues of Nigeria's leaders failing to unite the country's diverse peoples and what he identified as "the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency" in the destabilization of parts of Nigeria and state governments by political and business renegades.

He wrote Obasanjo "For some time now I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency." Achebe's concerns and principled position were apparently validated only 3 weeks later when a murderous gang burnt down the (s)elected governors' office, legislative headquarters, elections organizing offices and other symbols resembling democratic quests in Anambra, the home of the great, late Owelle, Dr. the Rt. Hon. Nnamdi Azikiwe.....

Let's go back to Achebe the scholar and educator. I agree with Princeton University's professor of philosophy, Kwame Anthony Appiah, who said recently that "In every English and non-English speaking country on the planet, if you ask a student to name just one African novel, it is most likely to be Things Fall Apart by Achebe. It is the beginning of the African canon. it is difficult to think of anything else without it."

I believe and propagate the informed view that Prof. Achebe has been a significant and binding source for an engaging understanding of African pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial history and realities.

I believe that the Achebean ease and facility with the English language insight made him a favorite of African-Americans, and other scholars and regular folks in search of a better, realistic understanding of Africa.

In Achebe's works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology. Similarly, in my letter to my son, Chido Nwangwu II, on his first birthday on February 12, 2002, such core values and messages are embedded and made whole.

www.USAfricaonline.com/chido.chido.html

One of our web sites, USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper to be on the Internet), has published a number of essays about Achebe, and one by him concerning his friend, novelist Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike.

Also, very insightful is the USAfricaonline.com exclusive essay by Prof. Douglas Killam, one of the leading and pioneer publishers of African literature and a friend of the Achebes. I met Prof. Killam during Achebe's 70th birthday event at the Bard College in New York. His piece is titled Since 1958, Achebe's Things Fall Apart set a standard of artistic excellence, and more. Killam's contribution is a very insightful and valuable read for all and any serious student and writer on Achebe's works.

Some of Achebe's other major books are 'No Longer at Ease' (1960), 'Arrow of God' (1964&emdash;rev. 1974), and more recently 'Anthills of the Savannah' (1987).

See list of selected works of Prof. Achebe at www.Achebebooks.com

Also, see commentaries at www.USAfricaonline.com/chidoachebe.html

Literary giant Chinua Achebe returns 'home' from U.S., to love and adulation of community; Achebe turns 70; celebrates with Mandela, Morrison, world's leading arts scholars in New York.

Achebe's October 2004 brief letter to Obasanjo's presidency reminded even the indifferent and the cynical that some of Nigeria's very best cannot be attracted to the seductive allurements of State power and its increasingly sham honorifics. Again, the Eagle on the iroko proved why his message and timing are reflective of the ways of a sage. In rejecting the award from the embattled presidency of Obasanjo, Achebe's symbolic point further drew the line between the toadying apologists of Obasanjo and his critics.

Obasanjo's loud-hailers and hoary apologists attacked Achebe with such hideous ignorance and crass incivility. Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, their lead attack-dog and privileged rascal who masquerades as "presidential adviser/assistant" to retired Gen. Obasanjo, dramatized his bovine ill-mannerisms to the international community. But presidential spokesperson Ms. Remi Oyo showed class by taking a different, mild approach. Achebe's decision to reject the 2004 national honors from Obasanjo is not accidental; it's rooted in his position that a writer ought to see himself/herself as a part of the wider goal of building a better society. For him, there's an organic relationship between writing as education and the building of a better society. Recall that the prolific Achebe wrote in 1975 in his work 'Morning Yet on Creation Day' that "The writer cannot be excused from the task of re-education and regeneration that must be done…"

Achebe has never shied away from speaking his truths to the face of power, especially writing with such lucidity and accessibility that his essays and books have since become equalizers for the scholarly and the average reader. Essentially, there has never been any one like Achebe.

Achebe's poignant letter to Obasanjo and the "powers that be" in today's Nigeria follows in his decades-old commitment to call the leadership to do better for a long-suffering people - especially in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

I recall flying back to the U.S. (from South Africa directly to New York) to attend Prof. Achebe's 70th birthday at the historic Bard College (November 3-4, 2000) and its related conference titled, "Home and Exile: Achebe at 70" - where Achebe made a similar point.

In the midst of his friends and some of the best writers in the world, he mentioned how everyone was speaking so nicely of him in honor of his birthday; then he joked that were he a military dictator may be those two days of November would have been declared national holidays. He burst into laughter.... That's vintage Achebean sarcasm. He has been richly blessed by the iron-clad support and love of his outstanding wife, Prof. Christie Chinwe Achebe.

In 1983, Achebe wrote the often quoted pamphlet, 'The Trouble with Nigeria.' In the latter, he cited the litany of failures of the leaders and pointed the way forward. In rejecting Obasanjo's 2004 award, he's making a statement about the direction and quality of leadership in Nigeria, today. The sage picked the fitting moment to set his revered, valuable company and name apart from a list which does not separate dealers from leaders. With Chinua Achebe, Eagle on the Iroko, you may never mistake his message.

Permit me to attempt a brief sentence, if you may, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good!


http:// www.Achebebooks.com/chido.achebebest.html
http://www.Achebebooks.com
http:// www.USAfricaonline.com/chido.achebebest.html


CHOOSING ACHEBE'S NOVEL AS AFRICA'S BOOK OF THE CENTURY

THE scholarly jury of Africa's great minds chose Achebe's Things Fall Apart as the Best Book of the century. They made their selection of Africa's 100 best books at a meeting in Accra, Ghana and their decision was announced at the Golden Tulip Hotel Accra on Tuesday February 18, 2002.

According to the team and statement on the book fair web site, they considered at least "five hundred nominations, from the original one thousand five hundred and twenty-one nominations proposed from many sources all round the world. Prior to the meeting in Accra, members of the Jury had already reduced this list, via electronic discussion, to a more manageable number. An initial meeting to set the guidelines for the process of selection was held in Harare Zimbabwe in August 2001."

The group credits distinguished professor of African history and cultures, Ali Mazrui, with pushing the idea of a list of Africa's 100 best books of the twentieth century during the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in 1998. "His vision was to find a way to  direct the spotlight of the world on the achievements of African writers who  have had their works published in the twentieth century."

The organizers note that "the books considered were in three categories: children's writing, non-fiction/scholarship and  creative writing, which further divides into short stories, novels, poetry  and drama. Books were considered in Afrikaans, Arabic, English, French,  Gikuyu, Portuguese, Sesotho, Shona, Swahili, IsiXhosa, Yoruba and IsiZulu."

In summarizing their effort and goal, the jurors and the book fair state "We believe it is time to celebrate a century of superb achievement in African  creative writing, scholarship and children's literature. We believe that  this list will provoke debate and lead to republication, translations and  curriculum inclusion. We can look forward to the next 100 years of an Africa  brimming with creative energy across the entire continent."    

The top twelve best books selected by the jurors are listed below, with a brief on its content and value by the scholars:  

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, 1958 
This book has moved from its setting in a small Igbo village into universal  prominence as Africa's most widely read novel. Its portrayal of the impact  of British colonization on the life of a settled African community makes it  a classic on the clash of cultures.    

Meshack Asare, Sosu's Call, 1999  
This book received the 1st UNESCO Prize for Children's Literature in the  Service of Tolerance in 2000. It is a wonderful story about a physically  disabled girl left in village because she is ìgood for nothingî. She however  manages to alert the surrounding villages of coming floods through the  miraculous use of talking drums and this way saves them all. The book is  beautifully illustrated by the author.  

Mariama Ba, Une si longue letter (So Long a Letter), 1979.  
A spellbinding book which paved the way for contemporary women's voices  being heard through francophone literature. The central character in Ba's  novel narrates her life through a letter to her friend, and manages to  succinctly capture the everyday frustrations that many women undergo,  especially after the death of their spouses.  

Mia Couto, Terra Sonambula 1992  
In this novel, Couto has managed to blend, in a very unique way, African  oral tradition and the Portuguese literary language. The way the plot  unfolds (a boy and an old man read together a diary they found on a ravaged  bus) takes the reader to an unexpected end, as the boy himself was part of  the story and, thus, boundaries between reality and fiction become blurred.  More than a novel about the recent civil war in Mozambique, this is a book  in which broken and fragmented identities are exposed.  

Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions, 1988  
An excellent portrayal, exposition and interpretation of an African society  whose younger generation of women struggle with varying degrees of success  and almost fatal failure, to wrest it from the unrelenting complexity of  patriarchal domination and colonialism. Unique in African writing for  portraying anorexia, an eating disorder that affects one of the central  characters.  

Cheik Anta Diop, (The African Origins of Civilization: Myth or Reality)  
An outstanding multi-disciplinary work leading the thesis that the founders  of Pharaonic Egypt and, in particular, the 1st Kingdom, were black Africans.  His is a theory that has stood the test of 50 years of international  scholarship in the area.    

Assia Djebar, La'Amour, La fantasia, 1985  
Djebar is an outstanding contemporary writer from Algeria. She is also a  filmmaker. L'Amour, la fantasia is a literary work of mixed genres,  historical and autobiographical narratives, and interlaced with memories of  youth and childhood. It speaks of the conquest of Algeria and the war of  Independence from a woman's perspective and in such a way as to produce a  real feminist literary masterpiece.  

Naguib Mahfouz, The Cairo Trilogy, 1945  
The Cairo Trilogy is a panoramic three-part work written to explain the  sensitivity and mentality of the people who lived in Cairo from the 1900s to  the 1940s. It gives a rich description of their daily lives while  portraying this as part of a wider historical process. Mahfouz won the  Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990.  

Thomas Mofolo, Chaka, 1925  
This truly continental masterpiece explores the theme of power and its  effect on those who have too much of it. The sweep of Zulu history and the  central figure of that history, Chaka Zulu, is very impressive. In the  hands of Mofolo the Sesotho language reveals its natural poetic beauty.  Published in 1925, this novel from Lesotho has inspired generations of  African writers across the continent. Its abiding quality is it evocative  beauty and its insight into the relationship between character and history.  

Wole Soyinka, Ake: The Years of Childhood, 1981
The evocation of the wonder of a child's discovery of the world and his  place in it is a classic autobiography of childhood. It is a remarkable  insight into the growth of a writer's imagination as well as an enchanting  portrait of natural and human environment of a great writer's beginnings.  

Ngugi wa Thiongo, A Grain of Wheat 1967  
This is one of four novels written in English by Ngugi wa Thiongo which  depict some of the dilemmas that face an emergent nation. In this novel,  Ngugi moves away from the Christian literalism of his first books while  retaining respect for the moral values which religions instill. His rich  characterization, complex narrative and deep humanity weave together to form  one of the most ambitious and fully achieved African novels ñ one which is  widely studied and admired in nAfrica and beyond.  

Leopold Sedar Senghor, Oeuvre Poetique 1961  
Leopold Sedar Senghor, who died only recently at the age of 97, was one of  the founding fathers of modern Africa. His political achievements as the  first President of Senegal should not be allowed to obscure his poetic  genius. Oeuvre Poetique is, without doubt, one of the expressions of African  cultural identity. In poems which have been translated into many languages  and which appear in anthologies throughout the world, Senghor explores the  mythic origins of the African persona. His negritude philosophy influenced  every subsequent African author, especially those of the 1950s and 1960s who  followed in the wake of his first poems in this mode. In French of  magisterial resonance, Senghor revealed the soul of Africa to Africa itself,  to French literature and to the world.  

The scholars offered and listed for for Special Commendation the UNESCO General History of Africa vol. I VIII . This work received a special commendation from the Jury both for the wealth  of new information it marshals as well as the new interpretations it brings  to bear on African History. Published over nearly two decades from 1981 to  2000, it has established itself as an indispensable source on all periods of  African history.  It was not included in the list of Africa's 100 best books only because it  falls outside the Jury's terms of reference in that it is edited, and  includes chapters by Non-Africans. The Jury noted however that the  International Advisory Committee for the UNESCO General History of Africa  was two-thirds African in its composition and that the editors of each of  the volumes were African.  

The chairperson of the Jury is the disnguished Professor NJABULO NDEBELE, a Noma Award winner and Vice Chancellor of  the University of Cape Town. The book fair site notes that "his special interest areas are creative writing, cultural studies, critical  theory, communication skills and expository prose. As an internationally  respected author, he has published numerous, short stories and novels as  well as essays, articles and chapters in books. His books include Death of a  Son, 1996; Sarah, Rings and I, 1993; The Prophetess, 1992; Bonolo and the  Peach Tree, 1991; Rediscovery of the Ordinary, 1991; and 'Fools' and other  Stories, 1983. His book "Fools" and other Stories was the joint winner of  the SANLAM prize for outstanding fiction in 1986."  

The others are: WANGUI wa GORO, DR. ALASTAIR NIVEN, DR. FATOUMATA KEšTA, PROFESSOR FATIMA MENDONÁa, DR. ATO QUAYSON, DR. ZIFIKILE MGUNI-GAMBAHAYA, PROFESSOR ALI MAZRUI (Initiator of the Project), PROFESSOR HELGE RONNING, PROFESSOR BANKOLE OMOTOSO, PROFESSOR ELDRED JONES, MR. BERNARD MAGNIER, DR. ADOTEY BING, DR. NANA WILSON-TAGOE, MR. SAMIR SAAD KHALIL and PROFESSOR ALOIS SIMON MLAMBO (ex-officio member and a trustee of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair).


USAfricaonline.com has published a number of essays on Achebe. Also see the website, Achebebooks.com.

I'm equally privileged to speak with the distinguished Professor Achebe, a number of times a year, for some time now. As I've indicated on a number of platforms and interviews, he's one of my mentors.

I believe and propagate the informed view that Prof. Achebe has been a significant and binding source for an engaging understanding of African pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial history and realities. Hence, the fact this latest honor validates his nearly 5 decades of capturing the true essence and dynamism and cosmology of African life via his Igbo nation and realities.

I believe that the Achebean ease and facility with the English language insight made him a favorite of African-Americans, and other scholars and regular folks in search of a better, realistic understanding of Africa.

Also, see my reports/commentaries: Literary giant Chinua Achebe returns "home" from U.S., to love and adulation of community; and Achebe turns 70; celebrates with Mandela, Morrison, world's leading arts scholars in New York

The point is Achebe's cultural contexts are at once globalist and local; hence, his literary contextualizations soar beyond the confines of Umuofia and any Igbo or Nigerian setting of his creative imagination or historical recall. His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective of the true essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing and disposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures) this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce, juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of the vitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology. Even, in my letter to my son, Chido Nwangwu II, who turned One on February 12, 2002, those values and messages are embedded and made whole.

Also, Achebe captures the Igbo world taking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community. I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, the rigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed in most of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, because I share the same ancestry with him. And, reasonably, Achebe's message has been neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime. He has been translated in more languages than any other writer in the developing world. He's our pathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans and lovers of the fine art of good writing.

Any wonder, that our Eagle on the Iroko, Chinua Achebe, effortlessly utilizes his rich, moralistic and dynamic Igbo ancestry, on south eastern Nigeria, to speak to the world.

Permit me to attempt writing a brief sentence, if you may, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good!

Eagle on the Iroko, may your Lineage endure!
There has never been one like you!
Ugo n'abo, chukwu gozie gi oo!


Chido Nwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), is Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet), USAfrica The Newspaper, CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal. He has served as an adviser to the Mayor of Houston on international business (Africa) and appears as an analyst on CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABC news affiliates.
This USAfricaonline.com commentary is copyrighted. Archiving on any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with a Written Approval by USAfricaonline.com Founder.