Chinua Achebe Biography and Life History

Albert Chinualumogu Achebe popularly known as Chinua Achebe is a famous Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, historian, educational philosopher and a political critic. His first novel Things Fall Apart has been considered as his best literary masterpiece and the most widely read book in modern African literature. He was born on 16th November 1930 in Ogidi, a small town in Anambra State in the south eastern part of Nigeria and died on 21st March 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States of America at the age of 82 years old.

His father’s name is Isaiah Okafor Achebe while his mother’s name is Janet Anaenechi Iloegbunam Achebe. Chinua Achebe has been described as the best and highly respected literary icon in Africa. He has won the prestigious Nobel Prize Award. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize.

In 1936, Chinua Achebe was admitted to St Philips’ Central School in Ogidi, Anambra State, Nigeria. Despite his protests, he spent a week in the religious class for young children, but was quickly moved to a higher class when the school’s chaplain took note of his intelligence. One of his teachers described him as the student with the best handwriting in class, and the best reading skills. He also attended Sunday school every week and the special evangelical services which was held monthly.

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At the age of 12 years old, Chinua Achebe moved away from his family to Nekede, a small town in Imo State in the south eastern part of Nigeria. While in Nekede, he enrolled as a student at the Central School in Nekede, Imo State, Nigeria, where his older brother John taught and finally obtained his First School Leaving Certificate. While in Nekede, Chinua Achebe gained an appreciation for Mbari, a traditional art form that seeks to invoke the gods’ protection through symbolic sacrifices in the form of sculpture and collage.

After completing his primary school education, Chinua Achebe got admitted to the prestigious Dennis Memorial Grammar School in Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. But he completed his secondary school education at the prestigious Government College in Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria and obtained his West African Senior School Certificate.

After completing his secondary school education, Chinua Achebe became the first set of students to be admitted into the newly established University of Ibadan in Oyo State in the south western part of Nigeria along side with literary icons such as Wole Soyinka, John Pepper Clark and Christopher Okigbo in 1948. He was admitted to University of Ibadan on scholarship to study Medicine and Surgery, but he opted for English, History and Theology and graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, History and Theology. It was during his studies at the University of Ibadan that he became a critic of European literature about Africa.

Chinua Achebe became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation from the university, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Services (NBS) and was later elevated to the position of Director of the Nigerian Broadcasting Services (NBS), after which he relocated to Lagos, which was the capital city of Nigeria at that time during the colonial era.

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Chinua Achebe gained worldwide attention for his novel “Things Fall Apart” which was published in 1955. His first novel “Things Fall Apart” was massively and generally acceptable by global audience. The book sold millions of copies worldwide and was translated to several languages all over the world.

After the success of his first novel, Chinua Achebe published his second novel “No Longer at Ease in 1960. After which he published his third novel “A Man of the People” in 1966. After which he published his fourth novel “Anthills of the Savannah in 1987.

When the region of Biafra’s broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Chinua Achebe became a supporter of Biafra independence and acted as ambassador for the people of the new nation. When the Nigeria civil war broke out in 1967, Chinua Achebe appealed to the Europeans and the Americans for aid. When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, he involved himself in political parties and politics, but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed in Nigeria.

He lived in the United States of America for several years and furthered his education till he became a professor of English. Chinua Achebe novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era.

His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children’s books, and essay collections. From 2009 until his death, he served as a Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University in the United States of America.

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Unfortunately, Chinua Achebe died on 21st March 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States of America at the age of 82 years old. He was one of the richest and most influential public figure in Nigeria before his death with an estimated net worth of $5 million.

Austine Ikeru
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