Chinua Achebe, Father of African Literature, Dies at 82

Posted on March 24, 2013

Bestselling novelist Chinua Achebe has died after a brief illness, reports The New York Times. He was 82. Known as the Father of African Literature, Achebe is the author of Things Fall Apart which was one of the first African novels.

The book was published in 1958 when he was only 28 years old, and quickly became a worldwide bestseller, selling more than 10 million copies in 45 languages. The book tells the story of a family in Southeastern Nigeria and how they suffered under the British colonial rule and then under the rule of military dictators. The story was based on his own family's experiences.

Forced to leave his homeland during the civil wars, he traveled and had been teaching at Brown University, where he held the position of David and Marianna Fisher university professor and professor of Africana studies. In 1990 he moved to the U.S. permanently after becoming paralyzed from the waist down in an accident. He says he needed to be closer to top medical care, noting that if he fills a prescription in Boston he knows it contains the drug it says it does on the label. That is not true in Nigeria, he explained.,

Professor Achebe wrote novels, essays, children's books and poetry, leading the way for new generations of African writers to describe the continent through their own eyes, as opposed to from a Western point of view. He is often quoted as saying, "If you don't like someone's story, write your own." He won a number of awards, including the Man Booker International Prize and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

The New York Time has a full obituary here.
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