March 21 will go down as a very bad day for authors and literati in Africa and the world at large. For, it is on this very day the doyen of African literature Chinua Achebe passed on. However, many did not meet with Achebe, they know him as if they lived in the same street. Of course, for many of us lived in the same street with Achebe known as academia if not literature. Our street is Things Fall Apart among others. Achebe inspired many in many ways. He was the voice of our African Culture especially at the time nobody had the courage of the mad to do so. He strongly stood against demonizing African culture. He skillfully exposed the rot of imperial culture. Though Achebe lived his academic life, he was bigger than life. He was revered as a grandfather of African Literature. Achebe became a household thanks to his masterpiece 'Things Fall Apart' that was taught in many African schools. It is through this masterpiece I was able to know Achebe the man I respected and revered a lot. Now that he’s gone, I have all reasons to grieve over the loss his untimely departure has done to the academic world. Achebe was not a jewel only for Africa but also the whole world. His hatred towards malpractices is clearly known. His works are a tell-all testimony. Achebe has nary been in bed with a cabal of thieves in power. They tirelessly tried to befriend him but he refused and stayed put to see to it that he tells them to the right thing--- do away from their evil ways. He turned tainted prizes, honours, and awards. He firmly identified himself with the poor but not the rich. Indeed, Achebe knew what he wanted and what he was. His famous quote is, "Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am - and what I need - is something I have to find out myself." Indeed, Achebe knew who actually was theoretically and practically. Importantly, he told us who we are in his iconic works.
To me, among others, I became a writer and author just because of Achebe's work so to speak. It is sad that nowadays academia is no longer attracting many people as politics and business is today. At our times, we aspired to become the Achebes of tomorrow of our countries if not Africa. Sadly though, after money took over almost everything and in every sphere, the spirit of writing and the pride we took on literature evaporated. Again, though Achebe is gone, the fire is still burning however slowly it might seem.
Now that the curtain has fallen for Achebe, it is time for African writers to make sure that the faggots he lit should not die. This is the only way we can honourably celebrate the life of a giant of a man Chinua Achebe who inspired many not to mention the fame he brought to Africa.
Rest In Peace Chinua Achebe son of Umuofia.