Tribute to Chinua Achebe


    When I was 12 years old, my teenage brother had a girlfriend whom my friends and I lovingly named “Blonde Dami.” In my official capacity as the “obnoxious little sister,” I took it upon myself to annoy and harass poor Dami at every opportunity. In fact, I specifically learned to act blonde (flip my hair and wear whorish lip gloss) so I could welcome her to our home with the appropriately juvenile comedic flair.
    Anyway, my speech tonight is a long overdue attempt to make amends for my childish pestering and cruelty towards this nice young lady whose only discernible character flaw was a poorly-aimed libido(no way my brother was getting STDs before he was 30!). But even more than make amends, I needed to find some way to thank her. And here’s why: way back in 2006, Dami did something that would change my life forever. In order to get rid of me so she could stick her tongue down my brother’s throat, she gave me a dog-eared copy of Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”. Her plan worked brilliantly. The book not only turned my prepubescent Enid Blyton world upside down, it would begin my lifelong love affair with African fiction.
    Synonymous with African Fiction was the man-Chunua Achebe: a great writer, incredible storyteller and above all the ‘Father of African Literature” a man most known for his first novel and all time best-selling book “Things Fall Apart” the story of a great but tragically flawed warrior ‘Okonkwo’. Our generation grew up watching “Friends” and “Family matters” but the generation that preceded us would never forget the TV adaptation of the novel ‘Things Fall Apart.” Pete Edoche gave a most memorable performance in the lead role as Okonkwo: a man with an extremist view of masculinity whose greatest fear was being a failure like his father. From his physical build to the boom in his voice the message was clear-Achebe’s ‘Strong Man’ had been brought to life. The TV adaptation of “Things Fall Apart” would go on to win the ‘Prize Pieces Award’ for its achievement as a historical and cultural classic.
    Things fall Apart VCD
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    Beyond being a screen writer, Achebe was truly a man of integrity a man who turned down not one but two national honors because he was not at peace with the state of the nation. A man who has been an inspiration to some of the greatest African writers of all time including ‘Queen of fiction’ Chimamanda Adichie.
    “I didn’t know people like me could exist in books. I had assumed that books, by their very nature, had to have English people in them. Then I read THINGS FALL APART. For me, it was a glorious shock of discovery. Here was a book with characters who had familiar names like Okonkwo and Ezinma…what I know for sure, is that I would not be the writer I am if it wasn’t for Chinua Achebe.”
    — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, from a 2008 tribute for PEN American Center
    He wrote over 20 books in his lifetime including best sellers like “Arrow of God,” “No Longer at Ease,” “Man of the People” and most recently his personal narrative of Biafra- “There was a Country.”
    Achebe after a protracted illness died at 82 but his legacy lives on. We would forever remember the laughs we had reading his books, his command of the English language and the journeys he took us on into lands and time zones we would never physically experience. The one regret will be that now the legend will never receive the Nobel Prize that he deserved so much. “The Eagle on the Iroko is dead”…Rest in Peace Sir!
    Written by Terver Bendega.