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Chinua Achebe is dead, but his memory lives here

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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By IHRAF, US


As part of her contribution towards curbing the issues of human rights abuse and violation in Africa, the International Human Rights Art Festival (IHRAF) has thematically released a new classic and international essay anthology.

Edited by Nigerian author and journalist, Izunna Okafor, the anthology, entitled "The Malady and the Remedy" is a collection of twenty (20) essays on human rights abuse and violation in Africa, written by essayists, authors and human rights activists from different countries in Africa; as well fifteen (15) inspiring human rights quotes by selected activists around the world.

According to a statement, issued by the Coordinator of IHRAF in Africa, Mr. Wole Adedoyin, who announced the official release of the new anthology, the 20 essays published therein are the essays longlisted in the 2021 human rights essay competition recently organised by IHRAF (African Chapter), captioned "African Human Rights Essay Competition 2021", through which which 45 essays were received from different countries in Africa.

He congratulated all the entrants who participated in the essay competition, and appreciated everyone who contributed in one way or the other to the success of the initiative and the publication of the anthology, particularly the IHRAF founder, Tom Block, who is also an American author and playwright; as well as the editor of the anthology, Izunna Okafor, who is also an award-winning author and journalist.

In his Editor's Note, the editor of the new anthology, Izunna Okafor noted that the publication was a fulfilment of one of the promises made while calling for submissions of essays for the competition, during which only shortlisted entries and entrants were promised publication —a promise that was eventually extended to the longlisted essays and entrants, owing to the quality of their contents.

He wrote, "Although only the shortlisted essays and essayists were promised publication during the 'call for submissions', it became really wise to adjust further to accommodate all the longlisted essays and essayists in this publication, beholding the perceived extraordinary quality, relevance and efficacy of their contents in actualising the overall goal of the initiative, which is to promote human rights values in Africa and positively influence the betterment of the human rights situation in the continent.

"It is the conglomeration, editing and publication of these twenty longlisted essays that gave birth to this classic anthology, entitled "The Malady and the Remedy".

"The essays published herein take both the form of stories/narratives, analyses, etc, to x-ray, bemoan, condemn and challenge the incessant abuse and violation of human rights in Africa, the unsafeness of Africa for human rights activists and freedom fighters, as well as recommend the elixirs to all these ills against humanity.

"Aside its intriguing, thought-provoking, informative, educative and didactic qualities, another most outstanding feature of this anthology is that the essays published therein do not just condemn human rights violations and make recommendations; they are research-based and deep rooted. 

"In other words, these essays experientially and comparably look deep into the history of human rights and human rights abuse/violation in Africa, the causes, the types, what and what have been done so far to better the situation, why those things are not yielding the expected results, and finally propose/present better and more efficacious alternatives to addressing this age-long issue of human rights abuse, borrowing from the experience of yesterday, the situation of today, and the projection for tomorrow.

"Indeed, this anthology is a must-read for everyone who loves human rights and freedom. Every human being deserves to be treated as a human, for his being. Freedom fighting and right activism should be for all and for everyone. Human rights are for every human; and Africans are humans. For every other thing regarding that, flip through the pages of this anthology, and come out a better activist."


Download the book through the link below:

https://ihrafessayanthology.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/themaladyandtheremedyeditedbyizunnaokafor..-1.pdf


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By Izunna Okafor

The award-winning prolific Nigerian writer, Juliet Chudie, has thrilled and wowed the literary world again, with another upcoming masterpiece, which she co-authored with some foreign authors.

Chudie made this known on her Facebook wall and other social media handles, where she notified her teaming fans of the new book, and also shared her joy of being a co-author of the book.

According to her, the book, titled "The Black and African Guide to Moving to the UAE", was co-authored with 19 other brilliant amazing black expats from different industries with experiences in living, working and investing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) powered by @findblackexperts .


Chudie, who salivated her fans with the book cover further noted that, as her respect for human resilience had grown, she was trusting and hoping that her chapter would inspire, answer and bring the readers' hopes alive, when finally released in few months time.


She wrote:

"I am indeed excited to announce my participation as a co-author of the book "The Black and African Guide to Moving to the UAE" with 19 other brilliant amazing black expats from different industries with experiences in living, working and investing in the UAE, powered by @findblackexperts.

"This book will be out in a few months and in it, I will share my personal experience and as well as the rest of the team .

"The vision of the book is to inspire the world with our stories, transcend them and use them to make a difference in the world, to broaden other diasporas’s perspective of the UAE and help provide answers to any future or already existing questions anyone might have about moving or living in the UAE .

"When I first heard about the book and it’s vision to help create opportunities for black people, I knew for a fact that this was an opportunity I wouldn’t afford to miss.

"And as my respect for human resilience has grown , I’m trusting and hoping my chapter inspires , answers and brings your hopes alive."

A member of Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State Chapter), Juliet Chudie is a native of Agulu in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria, as well as the Founder of Juliet Chudie Foundation (founded in 2015) and Great Igbo Women, UAE.

She is the author of 'A Mother's Heart Bleeds' and the winner of the CSA Award as the Creative Writer of the Year 2018. Chudie has, through her foundation and writing, touched many lives, empowered many youths, restored many hopes in diverse ways, and contributed meaningfully to general societal development.

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LOVE IN LOVE



(A 2021 Special Valentine Poetry Collection)



Editor's Note:


In the word of Robert Frost, we love the things we love for what they are. 

In consummate concordance with this age-long apothegm, a group of poets decided to give the 2021 Valentine Day a poetic essence, literarily out of their love for what it is. 

Exploring the theme of Love, these eight poets and poetry lovers, in pursuance of their ardency, lent their voices, by donating stanzas of poetic condiments, which congealed into a concise masterpiece, entitled "Love in Love"

In its third edition now, this Special Valentine Poetry Collection which started in 2019 contains these romantic lines of epopees by these muses and inamoratos.

Compiled and edited by Izunna Okafor, this (though very concise) collection also holds the message and unfold the expressions of these gallant poets to and for the world, the lovers and the Love itself, as the 2021 Valentine Day stages.


They write:


Pure as crystal

Mature and unskeptical

Love beyond love

Love in love


And like a molten gold

My love oozes warmth

Even in the cold we are

Love in love!

 

Life they say is a proverb

Master this verb, it's an action

Echo in echo out

Love is a lieutenant 


Love is also natural

It comes from any direction

Waters the hearted 

Renders the powerful powerless

Love in love


Love is life

In its season, all thrive

When it seizes, there's strive

Love is when you lend a helping hand


Like Italian fine wine

You taste sweeter with age

I look at you, and with praise

My heart is filled


Grateful to the Great Universe for the gift of you

Soothing gaze of the moon...you

Fresh like the morning dew

Soft work, this, Love in Love is! 


Hence on this lonely path

May we cling softly to ourselves

And make peaceful vow

Of everlasting bliss


May the rain and sun

Water & shine on this garden of love

Gently, as it grows like a nation


When we sing of love... 

we sing of a mother and her child

we sing of a book and its reader

we sing of a child and his toy;

we sing of God and mankind

We sing of many things that have feelings,

we sing of hearts and prayers,

flowers, wishes, Aspirations and Lovers...

Because love has a different name to different

people,

But it goes with the same language everywhere.


Love in love

White, red, green, colourless...

Its colours and symbols

Love in Love


Love afresh, love in the air

Love above, love in the under

Love beyond love

Love in Love.




Contributors:

Izunna Okafor

Udo Okoronkwo-chukwu

Ibiam Ude Ufiem

Nnadiekwe Chinweike

Divine Ogonna

O'star Eze

Nwokeabia Ifeanyi John

John Chizoba Vincent



(Compiled and Edited by Izunna Okafor)



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The Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Anambra State Chapter is set to hold her first reading for the year 2021 as one of the literary activities to herald and open the new year.


This was contained in a statement released in Awka on Wednesday by the Anambra State's Coordinator of the association, Comrade Izunna Okafor in Awka.


According to him, the reading is aimed at giving writers (both the burgeoning and the established) a platform and opportunity to read, discuss and analyze their works, other literary works and literature in general with fellow writers, as well as encouraging and promoting reading cultures. 


He noted that the reading which is slated to hold on Saturday, 23rd January 2021 at the Prof. Kenneth Dike Central E-Library, beside Aroma Junction Awka, Anambra State capital, will kick off at exactly 9 AM. 


Responding to the question of who and who are invited, Izunna noted that the reading, just like every other readings the Association has been holding every month, is open to every writer or literary enthusiast who wants to participate in it, notwithstanding which part of the state or country the person is coming from. 


He said: "Everyone is invited, both old and new members of the forum, writers and literary enthusiasts from any part of the state or the country; as long as the person has interest in being part of it, he is much welcomed.


"Participation is free; all we require is for the person to be punctual to the venue and to come with materials (books or manuscript) to read."


Izunna, who himself is a published author, further noted that reading is indispensable and essentially recommended to any burgeoning writer who wants to grow in the literary field, and even much more important to the established writers, if they must maintain and sustain their interest and relevance in the field. 


He then invitingly called on every writer and literary enthusiast from around the state and beyond, to attend and be part of the reading, as the need and the benefits therein cannot be overemphasized.


Society of Young Nigerian Writers is a forum for young/established writers, and literary enthusiasts in Nigeria; and has branches across the 36 states of the Federation. 


The Anambra Chapter of the forum has been the literary body hosting the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture which holds up annually every 16th November (Achebe's date of birth), since 2016.


The chapter also holds her monthly (every 3rd Saturday of the month) at the Anambra State Central E-Library, Awka, the state capital.


According to the statement, further enquiries on the reading can be made through:

synwanambrachapter@gmail.com

Or 

08163938812

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