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By SYNW Anambra


Prof. Justice Peter Umeadi is set to grace the 2020 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival And Maiden Memorial Lecture, as a Special Guest of Honour.


Prof. Umeadi, FCArb, who is a former Chief Judge of Anambra State and Life Bencher, confirmed this in his acceptance letter to the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (SYNW) Anambra State Chapter, which is the literary body that organises the November 16 event. 


The letter succinctly reads in parts, "I gladly accept to be the Special Guest of Honour at the 2020 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Maiden Memorial Lecture slated for 16th November 2020 at Awka, Abambra State.


"Accept the assurance of my warmest regards."



On his own part, the Coordinator of Society of Young Nigerian Writers Anambra State Chapter, Izunna Okafor, said the Chinua Achebe Memorial Lecture, which is the first of its kind, will be delivered at the 2020 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival, which is a literary event annually hosted in honour of Nigerian Literary Icon, Late Prof. Chinua Achebe in celebration of his life, works and legacies.


In his word, "The Chinua Achebe Literary Festival which started in 2016 and which is in its fifth edition now, will feature drama, open microphone, announcement of winners of Chinua Achebe Essay Writing Competition, award presentation, unveiling of the Fifth Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, “Achebe: A Man of the People” published in honour of Achebe; art exhibition, entertainment, and other literary packages slated for the day."


Izunna Okafor who is also the initiator of the Achebe Literary Festival further noted that the Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Chief Oseloka Henry Obaze, who is a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in Anambra State and Keynote Speaker at the event themed "Chinua Achebe: Our Heritage In A New Normal".


He also revealed that the 2020 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival And Maiden Memorial Lecture will hold on 16th November (Achebe's birthday) 2020, at the Anambra State Central E-Library, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria, starting at 10:AM.


The event, according to him, will be chaired by the MD/CEO, Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation (ANPC), Sir Chuka Nnabuife, who is also an author, art curator and veteran award-winnig journalist.


Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezigbo, Odili Ujubuonu, Maxim Uzoatu among other prolific Nigerian writers are also expected at the event.


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The Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State Chapter) is seeking submissions of quality poems and essays from writers across the wolrd, for her 5th Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology.


The annual anthology is published in honour and memory of Late Prof. Chinua Achebe, a foremost Nigerian literary legend and the father of morden African Literature. The prestigious anthology will (as usual) be unveiled at the 5th edition of Chinua Achebe Literary Festival which is slated to hold on 16th November 2020, at the Anambra State Central E-Library (also known as Prof. Kenneth Dike Central E-Library), in south-eastern Nigeria. 


According to the Project Coordinator, Izunna Okafor, who is also the Coordinator of Society of Young Nigerian Writers in Anambra State, Chinua Achebe Literary Festival is an annual literary festival held by Society of Young Nigerian Writers in memory and honour of Achebe, in celebration of his life, works, contributions and legacies in the literary field. The event, he notes, was initiated in 2016, and holds on Achebe's date of birth since then, with the last edition held in 2019, during which the most recent edition of the anthology Chinua Achebe Essay/Poetry Anthology —"Arrows of Words" —was unveiled.


It is with a view to mark this year's edition of the Festival in a more remarkable and memorable way that the organizers are calling for quality poems and essays from burgeoning and accomplished writers to enter their thematically-articulated essays and poetry in memory of Achebe for the fifth anthology. The anthology is in honour of Prof. Chinua Achebe; hence, only entries that revolve around Achebe, his works, his literary prowess and legacies will be accepted for publication.



SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:


1. Only essays and poems are accepted for the anthology


2. Entrant must specify the genre of his entry, that is, specify whether it is Poetry or Essay


3. The essays and poems MUST be in the memory of Chinua Achebe, and may focus on his life, works personality, writing style or other areas.


4. The essays or poems should be brief and concise —a maximum of 500 words for essays or reviews, and a maximum of 30 lines for poetry.


5. Author’s information —location/contact address, phone number, e-mail address, and a short bio of no more than 40 words should be included in the submission.


6. Submission is FREE and open to writers from any part of the world.


7. Entry MUST be the original work of the author/poet.


8. Only one entry per person is allowed.


9. Entrant may choose/write on any interesting title of his/her choice.


10. Entries should be sent via: synwanambrachapter@gmail.com , with the subject "FIFTH CHINUA ACHEBE ESSAY/POETRY ANTHOLOGY (SPECIFY THE GENRE OF YOUR ENTRY)"


11. Entry MUST be type-written and sent in the body of the mail; NOT AS AN ATTACHMENT. Entries sent as attachment will be automatically disqualified.


12. Submission Deadline: 20th October 2020. Late Entry will not be accepted.


13. Entries could be written in either English or Igbo Language.



BENEFITS:


● All successful/shortlisted essays and poetry will be published in the Fifth Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology (soft and hard copies).


● Online promotion of successful/published essays and poems and the entrants.


● All successful entrants shall receive Certificate of Participation.


● Each successful entrant is entitled to author's copy of the published anthology


● Authors/poets of the best ten essays and poems shall be given outstanding recognitions and Certificate of Award at the 2020 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival.


● Entrants (if present at the event) shall be allowed to present their essays/poems at the event.


● Automatic/free membership and admission into the the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (for successful/published young Nigerian entrants.)


For inquiries or support, contact:


synwanambrachapter@gmail.com


08163938812

Izunna Okafor (Coordinator, Society of Young Nigerian Writers Anambra Chapter)


07010178124

Maureen Onyinyechi Kenneth

(Secretary)

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Editor's Note:

Out of their ardency, eighteen poets and poetry lovers identified with the need to give the 2020 Valentine celebration a poetic taste glamour.


With a view to harvest and immortalize this zeal, each of these bards donated a tranche of poetic condiment in response to a call for submissions made in that regard.


The fabrication of these romantic lines of epopees, as was edited by Izunna Okafor, gave birth to this panoramic poetic montage —My Love My All.


Here in this second edition of this journey, these poets explore the theme to register what love holds for them and their inamoratos in its various dimensions.




They write:



My love my all

In whose heart my treasure grows

From whose spine my pleasure flows

Nigher oh my love for in you I repose my all


Where is the inamorata who chained my treasure

She whose smile holds my pleasure!

The time fast approaches,

With its augur on rose hedges..


Where are you, my love, my all.

You whose love tower, I grow tall.

The field of love is verdant with hue;

My heart wanders for nothing, but you!


Give me the love that leads the way

And the kiss that heals the pierced heart

The faith that nothing can dismay

Lest I sink to be a clod.


Stretch your loving hand to me my love

The hand which comforts beyond measure 

In the midst of adversity  

You shall forever be my treasure.   


Come to me my love. 

And feel me all as my heart trembles for your love 

Out of my loneliness  

Heal me and hold me closer to thee.


Loneliness becomes an unbearable sickness

Every second your absence is felt

Storms trouble my sailing heart

In every flash of our last romance.


Never will the world ever be sweet

If not with you reposing on my laps

In you alone

I found meaningless of life without a woman.


You are my all and true love

Both far and near

For in you, I felt what Nnewi's progenitor felt for Nnobi damsel

That made him start a religion deifying her


Your love tastes like abacha 

And Nwoke Udi special palm-wine

joined together

My love my all

Ị sọgbuo m!!!


The smile on your face is sun

The only thing that stands when everything becomes dark.

Your smile is a map directing men of goodwill

I will camp you in my heart forever.


For you are my salt

That flavors the taste of my love.

And you are my light,

That brightens my darkest plights.


For God's love to all,

He gave His only Son.

But for His love for me,

He gave a precious gift of you

my heart's key.


You pick the lock

Oh! You do it all over again

My heart, creaking, opening its arms to you

You, gliding in with a fragrance of warmth.


Your visits leave me nimble

Your sweet perfume arouses my soul

And when you sway, that liquefied sublime motion

My brain falls into oblivion.


Deeper in your veins my love flows

Beckoning you closer to my sinews 

Peak me to the point my love temper swells

For in you all trust I my all


Your love and touch are sensational

They give this feeling of nostalgia

And make me feel like an infant

Please let me be your boo just for a day or two.


Thy love is better than wine

Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels

As the lilly among thorns

So is my love for you!


As the apple tree among trees,

So are you before me always.

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet,

Onitemi! kiss me, with the kisses of your mouth.


Clothe my heart with your love,

For its own love is dead.

Toss off one bit of it,

And the garden would be finer than Eden.


Hold my lips, let's make it last,

Now I am seconds closer to you.

Let it be a thing they could jot down,

Knowing well how much we love each other.


Youare my love my all, 

On this beautiful island of scented glory, surrounded by the emerald sea 

Under the blue sky and crescent moon of passion

And blessed with the sweet serenade of nightingales. 


I crave to dwell in the freshness of your presence

Which is as pure as a lily;

As rare as a blue rose 

And as lovely as venus.


I only desire company of you

To better express the freedom

Found in our affection

For you are my all.


In sincere confession of this,

I beseech God to marry us

In timeless matrimony of divine and infinite love

Beneath the twilight of cupid's divinest dreams.


My love you’re my all

My forever Valentine 

My giant for eternity you make me feel secure even when all around me is chaos!

Your imperfections are nature's reward to me.


They define your humanity, 

In that man who is perfect lies all the deceit in the world.

My love you’re my all


While we fold and drink from each others' lips

And as moon lends a scenting aroma to our eyes

At this love station, countless for the trip,

Then I hear a voice pouring from the skies:


"This liquid love will soon solidify

Only take your sleep gently and watch tears dry

For I shall be coming by,

Yes, I."


How can I make you see what I feel

When love is blind? 

When I push hard

You might think love is wicked 


Here you are staring at me

The only thing I want is to deep my lips into yours

And our love will be unbreakable 

Don't call it magic, it's a miracle!


With you, it's like honey and bread

Sweet to the body and blessing to the soul

My love, with you I know we will reach for the stars and even beyond

With you, I have no cause to look elsewhere, cause I am at rest.


With you, I feel complete

You make me see the beauty in my imperfections

Your love gives me room to live and truly live

With you, I am a giant with great strides.


Give me your love, and I will give you my all

Kill me with love, and resurrect me with love

For it's a season of love

Oh! Valentine is here again.





Contributors:



Izunna Okafor

Nket Godwin

Odinaka Nworie

Innocent Chikodiri Paul

Nwokeabia, Ifeanyi John

O'star Eze

John Chizoba Vincent

Stanley Ezechukwu

Rosemary Nwadike

Dishon Obok

Gloria Oluchi John

Kayode Awojobi

Chidiebere Ezekwesili

Marcel Ike Okonkwo

Dayo Ayila

Maureen Onyinye Kenneth

Udo Okoronkwo-chukwu

Michael David Ogbonnaya.



Compiled and Edited by Izunna Okafor

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The traditional African religions are a set of highly diverse beliefs that include various ethnic religions. Generally, these traditions are oral rather than scriptural, include belief in a supreme creator, mythology gods and goddesses, belief in spirits, veneration of the dead, use of magic and traditional medicine. 

There are African writers, who invest their energy to make sure these African myths and folktales never die.

Here's why we have compiled this short list of African mythology novels about myths, folktales, king gods and spirits from Africa.


  1. Children of blood and bones

1*DHp2tMREgCBzAxVtwMbMMQ.jpeg

Children of Blood and Bone is a 2018 young adult fantasy novel by Nigerian-American novelist Tomi Adeyemi. The book, Adeyemi's debut novel and the first book in a planned trilogy, follows heroine Zélie Adebola as she attempts to restore magic to the kingdom of Orïsha, following the ruling class kosidáns' brutal suppression of the class of magic practitioners Zélie belongs to, the maji.


Writing the book over 18 months and 45 drafts, Adeyemi drew inspiration from novels like Harry Potter and An Ember in the Ashes as well as West African mythology and the Yoruba culture and language.


 The hopelessness she felt at police shootings of black Americans also motivated her to develop the story of Children of Blood and Bone. The book received one of the biggest young adult publishing deals ever, including preemptive sale of film rights to Fox 2000



Blurb:


They killed my mother.

They took our magic.

They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.


Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.


This book was published by: Henry Holt and company

https://us.macmillan.com/henryholt/



2. Akata Warriors









1*rRiqvy_eTi08uMHGlmPVtw.jpeg

Nnedi Okorafor (full name: Nnedimma Nkemdili Okorafor; previously known as Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu; translated from Igbo into English as "mother is good", born April 8, 1974) is a Nigerian-American writer of fantasy and science fiction for both children and adults. She is best known for Binti, Who Fears Death, Zahrah the Windseeker, and Akata Witch.



Blurb:

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.


Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.

This book was publsihed by :

Penguine random house









1*uMcG9QvGAyi7bnwNS-icGA.jpeg

3. Children of vengeance and virtue


Blurb: After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.

Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari's right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy's wrath.









1*uQWlBwZje_e4NKZ4oLEoOA.jpeg

4. Black panther


Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues for TheAtlantic.com and the magazine. He is the author of the 2008 memoir The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. His book Between the World and Me, released in 2015, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Coates received the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 2015.



Blurb:


Klaw stands supreme! The Black Panther's greatest foe has returned, ready for war! Can T'Challa finally defeat Ulysses Klaw, the man who killed his father, while his country threatens to rip itself apart? To make matters worse, Wakanda's gods disappear - and the Originators return! The former gods are back, but what are their intentions for a land that has forgotten them? And all this is only the beginning, as a cadre of villains returns, monsters pour through strange gateways and Wakanda is brought to its knees! T'Challa must defend his country from within - but with his hands full, who will come to Ayo and Aneka's aid? And as Klaw steals the very lifeblood of Wakanda, the Panther turns to unlikely allies. Who will join the king's ill-fated crusade? The answers will surprise you!


This book was published by Marvel.









1*NV__eZ-wjh5V67-cq5bMnA.jpeg

5. Fib and the axe of fury


Esosa Kolawole (a Nigerian) is already making waves in respect of creative writing. She is mostly conspicuous on the internet, and has already published some tentative works and books.


Yes she loves ‘spooky’ stories about magic, myths etc! She has written a number of thrilling short stories, and at least a novella titled Tella. She's a big fan of Percy Jackson series and Cupid's Match.


Blurb:


Aaron Oni has just two more months to live.

When Fibikemi lost her eyeglasses, a magical barrier protecting her from herself, she encounters something strange.

It’s only the beginning of a weird and terrifying journey and in a matter of time, someone dangerous will come for her. Her obsession with saving Aaron pushes her to do the unimaginable and eventually, she discovers exactly why she must never take off her eyeglasses outside her home.

Brilliantly paced, with an exciting heroine and a twisting, imaginative story line, Fib and the Axe of fury is a strange African mythological story.


This book will be publsihed by Zuma Publishing

https://zumapublishing.com





6. Anansi the Spider




Screenshot_20190403-205503-01.jpeg




Gerald McDermott is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and an expert on mythology. His work often combines bright colors and styles with ancient imagery.


He has created more than 25 books and animated films. His first book, Anansi the Spider, was awarded a Caldecott Honor, and he’s since won the Caldecott Medal for Arrow to the Sun and another Caldecott Honor.


Anansi the Spider is one of the great folk heroes of the world. He is a rogue, a mischief maker, and a wise, lovable creature who triumphs over larger foes.


In this traditional Ashanti tale, Anansi sets out on a long, difficult journey. Threatened by Fish and Falcon, he is saved from terrible fates by his sons. But which of his sons should Anansi reward? Calling upon Nyame, the God of All Things, Anansi solves his predicament in a touching and highly resourceful fashion.


In adapting this popular folktale, Gerald McDermott merges the old with the new, combining bold, rich color with traditional African design motifs and authentic Ashanti language rhythms.



7. Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters


Screenshot_20190403-205702-01.jpeg


John Steptoe was an award-winning author and illustrator of children's books from New York City. He began working on his first children's book, Stevie, while still a teenager and achieved great success during his tragically short career, encouraging the advancement of African American culture by producing work about the African American experience that children could appreciate. 



Blurb:


A Caldecott Honor and Reading Rainbow book, this memorable retelling of Cinderella is perfect for introducing children to the fairy tale as well as the history, culture, and geography of the African nation of Zimbabwe.


Inspired by a traditional African folktale, this is the story of Mufaro, who is proud of his two beautiful daughters. Nyasha is kind and considerate, but everyone—except Mufaro—knows that Manyara is selfish and bad-tempered.


When the Great King decides to take a wife and invites the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to appear before him, Mufaro brings both of his daughters—but only one can be queen. Who will the king choose?


Award-winning artist John Steptoe’s rich cultural imagery of Africa earned him the Coretta Scott King Award for Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. The book also went on to win the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. This stunning story is a timeless treasure that readers will enjoy for generations.




8. Precious and the Monkeys




Screenshot_20190403-210251-01.jpeg




Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what is now known as Zimbabwe and he was a law professor at the University of Botswana. He lives in Scotland.



Blurb:


Well before Precious Ramotswe founded her Number One Ladies Detective Agency, as an eight-year-old girl she was already solving mysteries. Here we find out just who has been stealing her schoolfriend's snacks and how the young Precious became the crafty and intuitive private investigator we all know and love



9. Zoo City



Screenshot_20190403-205814-01.jpeg



Lauren Beukes


She is the author of Broken Monsters, about art, ambition, damaged people and not-quite-broken cities, The Shining Girls, about a time-travelling serial killer, the nature of violence, and how we are haunted by history, Zoo City, a phantasmagorical noir set in Johannesburg which won the Arthur C Clarke Award and Moxyland, a dystopian political thriller about a corporate apartheid state where people are controlled by their cell phones. Her first book was a feminist pop-history, Maverick: Extraordinary Women From South Africa’s Past, which has recently been reprinted.


Blurb:


Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons.


Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass and their animal companions live in the shadow of hell’s undertow.


Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she’ll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives – including her own.






____________________________________________



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Tech giant, Google will make available free Wi-Fi facilities in about 200 sites in Lagos and five other states in Nigeria between now and 2019.


Within this period, about 10 million Nigerians, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are expected to benefit immensely from this project. The other states are Kaduna; Port Harcourt (Rivers state); Ibadan (Oyo state); Enugu and Abuja.


The project, which comes as Google Station, is in partnership with 21st Century, a leading ISP in Nigeria. Four of the Stations, including Local Airport, Landmark; The Palms and Ikeja City Mall, went live on Wednesday.


Nigeria is the fifth country to launch Google Station, following India, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand.



Google Station is a service that allows Google partners to roll out Wi-Fi hotspots in public places by providing software and advice on hardware to turn fibre connections into Wi-Fi.


Speaking with The Guardian and some five other select media houses on Wednesday, in Lagos, Google’s Vice-President, Product Management, Anjali Joshi, said the service, which is targeted primarily at countries, where the next-billion Internet users are set to come from, aimed to give users fast, secure, and easy-to-use Wi-Fi experience.


Joshi explained that in order to provide the service, Google offered fibre carriers, the companies, which build software for Internet-connected hardware, and venues a cloud-based platform and devices, which make it easier for them to provide, manage and monetise the Station hotspots.


She disclosed that the initiative is a long term project and that the security aspect has been fortified and encrypted to guard against any breaches.


Joshi said Google was doing this because the Internet has the potential to completely transform Africa. “Across the globe, countries which have invested in nurturing digital and innovation-based cultures not only enjoy extraordinary wealth (and job creation), but have also transformed the way people live and do business. That positive change can only happen, however, if everyone can access the Internet,” she stressed.


Speaking in the same vein, Google’s Country Director, Nigeria, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, who said the move was to ensure that more Nigerians participate in the digital economy, noted that the technology firm hoped to roll out Station to as many public locations as possible, including markets, malls, bus stops, city centres, and cafés, universities so that people can have a consistent Wi-Fi experience during their daily routines.


On the choice of Nigeria now, Ehimuan-Chiazor said the country is an important market for Google and the largest market in Africa, saying that the target was to develop the technology ecosystem and later scaled to other part of Africa.


Silent on the amount gone into the investments, she disclosed that the initiative was targeted at a populated area, with the hope that by 2019 about 10 million Nigerians must have benefitted.

According to her, there are huge possibilities of the initiative helping the country to leapfrog the 30 per cent broadband target set by the Federal Government for this year, “knowing full well that a World Bank report claimed that there is direct correlation between broadband and GDP growth. That is a 10 per cent increase in broadband correlates to 1.38 per cent increase in GDP growth.


“Even beyond GDP growth, the Internet provides opportunities to pursue social and developmental objectives. So we expect this to fuel some changes, especially in creating jobs, helping the SMEs, among others.


“We have believed since the very beginning of Google that when more people have better, more dependable and secure access to the Internet, everyone in the entire Internet ecosystem benefits. Google Station will work to this mission by bringing more people fast, reliable, quality Wi-Fi to more places.”

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Chinua Achebe, who died in Boston today at the age of eighty-two, was a few weeks shy of thirty years old when Nigeria was granted independence from the British Empire, on October 1, 1960, and he was already acclaimed, worldwide, as the preëminent novelist of black Africa. The British publisher Heinemann had brought out Achebe's first novel, Things Fall Apart, only two years earlier, and it had to have been the first African novel that many of his admirers on the continent and off had read. The sure tragedian's authority with which Achebe tells the story of Okonkwo, an Igbo elder of immense strength and pride, a figure of heroic qualities within the traditions of his culture, who is ill-served, brought low, and undone by those same qualities in his first violent encounters with colonial power, has ensured that still today, with more than ten million copies sold, Things Fall Apart remains the best-known work of African literature.
The great African novel? The book could as truly be called a great novel, period. Many writers would prefer to carry that badge of universality, but Achebe who has gone to his grave without ever receiving the Nobel Prize he deserved as much as any novelist of his era has said that to be called simply a writer, rather than an African writer, is a statement of defeat. Why? Because his project has always been to resist emphatically the notion that African identity must be erased as a prerequisite to being called civilized. Growing up as what he called a British-protected child in the colonial order, the young writer came to see that the Empire's claim that Africans had no history was a violent, if at times ignorant or unconscious, counter-factual effort to annihilate the history of his continent's peoples.
Achebe made his case in many forms essays and lectures, interviews and acts of protest, and as an ideologue and propagandist for the failed Igbo-nationalist secessionist state of Biafra but he made it most cogently on the final page of Things Fall Apart. With the reader in the full emotional grip of the many dimensions of Okonkwo's epic fate, the author boldly and deftly adds another, shifting to the perspective of a colonial governor who considers Okonkwo's story good material perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph for the book he is planning to write:  The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.
Having, with his first effort, created a permanent place for the African novel in the world literary canon, Achebe continued to be a prolific imaginative writer, producing novels and stories that evoked, in a range of voices, the trials of Nigeria's pre-colonial and colonial history, and the traumas of its post-independence ordeals: from No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People in the sixties to Girls at War and Anthills of the Savannah in the aftermath of the Biafran war. But the fact that he must be remembered as not only the father but the godfather of modern African literature owes at least as much to the decades he spent as the editor of Heinemann's African Writers Series. In that capacity, Achebe served as the discoverer, mentor, patron, and presenter-to-the-world of so many of the now-classic African authors of the latter half of the twentieth century. The series's orange-spined, generously inexpensive paperbacks carried a stamp of excellence that drew readers everywhere to essential works by writers as varied as Kenneth Kaunda, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Dennis Brutus, Tayeb Salih, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Ousmane Sembène, Wole Soyinka, and Nadine Gordimer, to name but a few: it is an extraordinary legacy.
As a storyteller, as a voice of his nation, as a cultural impresario, an intellectual combatant and provocateur, Achebe gained with age the status in Nigeria of a bard and a sage that the modern world rarely affords to writers. After suffering terrible injuries in a car crash, he spent much of his time in the last decades of his life in America, where he settled into long-term professorships at Bard College and Brown University. But when he returned to Nigeria he was received as a national hero. Crowds of thousands sometimes tens of thousands gathered to pay tribute to him. The adoration hardly softened him, though. He was, in his old age, as much a scold to his compatriots as he had ever been in his youth.
I met Achebe a few times in his wheelchair-bound American years. When he gave you his hand it was at once firm and soft and notably warm. He had a gentle presence a man fully capable of wit and mischief and open laughter, but whose default expression, at ease, was one of sympathetic melancholy. His voice was another matter: low-pitched and rich and adamant. When he spoke, it was with great command and unmistakable music. In Boston, in 1999, at a celebration of the centennial of Ernest Hemingway s birth, I had the honor of sitting on a panel with Achebe, on the subject of writing about Africa. He was as cogently withering about Hemingway's Africa a place he could not recognize because there were no speaking Africans there as he was, in one of his most famous essays, about Joseph Conrad s. At the end of the session, the floor was opened to questions. An evidently confused woman in the audience took the opportunity to ask In what sense are you writers about Africa? The other panelists Nadine Gordimer and Kwame Anthony Appiah were too baffled to respond. Not Achebe. He leaned into his microphone, and very slowly and melodically, with rolling Rs and drawn out Os, roared: Read. Our. Books. The woman said, But I'm asking you. And Achebe said, I'm telling you: Read. Our. Books. 
What better epitaph for the man, and what better way to remember him today: read his books.
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