- Category: Personality
- Published on Friday, 30 March 2012 10:42
- Written by Admin
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The defining experience of Chinua Achebe's life was the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War of 1967-1970.
The war was infamous around the world for its savage impact on the Biafran people, who were blockaded by the Nigerian government and starved to death. As a roving cultural ambassador for his government, Achebe absorbed the war's full horror from this unique vantage. Immediately after the war, Achebe took refuge in an academic post in the United States, and for over forty years he has maintained a considered silence on the events of those terrible years, addressing them only obliquely through his poetry. Now, years in the making, at last comes a towering reckoning from Achebe with one of modern Africa's most fateful experiences.
Achebe masterfully relates his experience, both as he lived it and how he has come to understand it. He begins his story with Nigeria’s birth pangs and the story of his own upbringing as a man and as a writer so that we might come to understand the country’s promise, which turned to horror when the hot winds of hatred began to stir. To read There Was a Country is to be powerfully reminded that artists have a particular obligation, especially during a time of war. All writers, Achebe argues, should be committed writers—they should speak for their history, their beliefs, and their people. Marrying history and memoir, poetry and prose, There Was a Country is a distillation of vivid firsthand observation and forty years of research and reflection. Wise, humane, and authoritative, it will stand as definitive and reinforce Achebe’s place as one of the most vital literary and moral voices of our age
Author: Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, and is a graduate of University College, Ibadan. His early career in radio ended abruptly in 1966, when he left his post as Director of External Broadcasting in Nigeria during the national upheaval that led to the Biafran War. Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra on various diplomatic and fund-raising missions. He was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and began lecturing widely abroad. For over fifteen years, he was the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. He is now the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana studies at Brown University.
Chinua Achebe has written over twenty books – novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry – and has received numerous honours from around the world, including the Honourary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as honourary doctorates from more than thirty colleges and universities. He is also the recipient of Nigeria's highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction.