Chinua Achebe, dubbed “the father of contemporary African writing,” was one of Nigeria’s most widely read writers and a key figure in the development of African literature. His debut novel, ‘Things Fall Apart,’ has sold over 12 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 50 languages, making him a prominent writer not only in his home nation but around the world. His reading abilities were frequently recognized by his professors as he was an academically smart student in school. He got into a top institution with ease, when he discovered his passion for African culture and reading. He began writing throughout his academic years and later went on to become a teacher. He was an avid reader who was dissatisfied with European interpretations of African culture and troubled by non-African authors’ misunderstanding of the continent and its people. He set out to write his novel ‘Things Fall Apart,’ which was published after much editing and reworking. He was determined to portray a genuine picture of Africa to the world. The novel was well-received, and it went on to become one of African literature’s most important works. He went on to write several other critically acclaimed novels before winning the Man Booker International Prize.
Childhood and Adolescence
Albert Chinualumogu Achebe was born in Nigeria to Isaiah Okafo Achebe and Janet Ilogbunam as Albert Chinualumogu Achebe. He has five siblings who were still alive. His parents had turned to Christianity after abandoning their native religion. As a result, Achebe was exposed to both traditionalist and Christian influences as a young lad.
Storytelling was a part of their rich Nigerian culture, and he grew up listening to his family members tell stories. In 1936, he enrolled in St. Philip’s Central School. He was a gifted kid who was well-liked by his professors. In 1944, he was accepted into Umuahia’s elite Government College. He was such a talented student that he completed his studies in only four years instead of the usual five. He adored the library and would spend hours there reading books by various writers.
In 1948, he was accepted as a Major Scholar at the University College, Nigeria’s first university, and was also awarded a scholarship to study medicine. However, he was not interested in medicine, so he changed his major to English, history, and religion, losing his scholarship in the process.
He began writing while at university and made his debut as an author in 1950 with the publication of his piece “Polar Undergraduate” in the “University Herald.” During this time, he also wrote a number of additional stories, articles, and letters. In 1953, he received his bachelor’s degree from the college.
Career of Chinua Achebe
For four months, he worked as a teacher at a small school in a decaying building. He urged his students to establish a habit of reading. He started working for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) in Lagos in 1954. His job entailed preparing scripts for delivery orally. His time there prepared him for later in his writing profession when he needed to write genuine dialogue.
He also started writing a novel during this time. He had been critical of European writers’ portrayals of Africa and its culture as a student, and he was determined to portray his country realistically himself. He was influenced by the works of Nigerian writer Cyprian Ekwensi, who was a rare exception in a literary world that had few renowned Nigerian writers.
In 1956, he was appointed to the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Staff School, which allowed him to travel to London and receive comments on the novel he was working on. He sent his manuscript to a London publishing house after editing and amending it. ‘Things Fall Apart,’ his first novel, was published in 1958. The book garnered positive reviews, with ‘The Observer’ calling it “an superb novel.” ‘No Longer at Ease,’ his second novel, was about a man who becomes caught in a world of corruption and is arrested for receiving a bribe.
He joined the NBS as Director of External Broadcasting and was instrumental in the formation of the Voice of Nigeria network. On New Year’s Day 1962, the network broadcasted its inaugural broadcast. He met other notable writers from around the world, like Kofi Awoonor, Wole Soyinka, and Langston Hughes, during an executive conference of African writers in English in Uganda.
In 1964, he published ‘Arrow of God,’ followed by ‘A Man of the People,’ in 1966. In 1967, he founded Citadel Press with a friend, Christopher Okigbo, with the goal of improving the quality of African literature available to youngsters.
In 1976, he was appointed as a research fellow and later as a professor of English at the University of Nigeria, where he remained until 1981.
During the 1980s, he spent the most of his time traveling, attending conferences, and giving lectures. In 1987, he wrote ‘Anthills of the Savannah,’ a novel about a military revolt in a fictional African country. He was paralyzed from the waist down in a horrible vehicle accident in 1990, and he would have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
The brave writer, however, was undeterred by his infirmity, and he went on to become the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College in New York. As the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University, he joined the faculty in 2009.
Major Projects of Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart, his debut work, was one of the first African novels in English to receive widespread critical praise. The book has been translated into over 50 languages and is widely read throughout the world.
Achievements & Awards
In 2007, he was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for his literary achievements. At the award ceremony, Judge Nadine Gordimer dubbed him the “Father of Modern African Literature.” In 2010, he was awarded the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. “A man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the earth and to mankind’s enjoyment and knowledge of life,” according to the prize’s description.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1961, he married Christie Okoli and they had four children. He went on to have six grandchildren.
In 2013, he passed away after a long illness.
Estimated Net Worth
Chinua is one of the wealthiest novelists and one of the most well-known. Chinua Achebe’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
Over 30 honorary degrees have been bestowed upon him by universities all over the world.
He is considered one of Nelson Mandela’s favorite authors.