Chinua Achebe - Nigerian Novelist, Life Achievements and Childhood

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Chinua Achebe's Personal Details

Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian writer and professor made famous by his debut novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’

InformationDetail
BirthdayNovember 16, 1930
Died onMarch 21, 2013
NationalityNigerian
FamousNigerian Novelist, Writers, Poets, Novelists
SpousesOkoli
SiblingsJohn taught, Zinobia Uzoma
Childrens Chidi, Chinelo, Ikechukwu
Universities
  • University of Ibadan
  • University of London
Birth PlaceOgidi, Nigeria Protectorate
GenderMale
FatherIsaiah Okafo Achebe
MotherJanet Anaenechi Iloegbunam
Sun SignScorpio
Born inOgidi, Nigeria Protectorate
Famous asNigerian novelist
Died at Age82

// Famous Nigerian Novelist

Chinua Achebe's photo

Who is Chinua Achebe?

Called "the father of modern African writing", Chinua Achebe was one of the most widely read novelists from Nigeria who played a pivotal role in the development of African literature. Considered to be a major writer in not just the country of his birth but throughout the world, his debut novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ has sold over 12 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 50 languages. As an academically brilliant student at school he was often praised by his teachers for his reading skills. He easily got accepted into a prestigious college where he discovered his love for African culture and reading. He began writing during his university years and became a teacher after graduation. A voracious reader, he was disappointed with the European interpretation of African culture and disturbed by the non-African authors’ ignorance about Africa and its people. Determined to present a realistic picture of Africa to the world, he set about writing his novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ which was published after considerable editing and revising. The book was well received and went on to become one of the most significant books in African literature. He wrote several other critically acclaimed novels and eventually won the Man Booker International Prize.

// Famous Poets

Childhood & Early Life

He was born as Albert Chinualumogu Achebe in Nigeria to Isaiah Okafo Achebe and Janet Ilogbunam. He had five surviving siblings.

His parents had stopped practicing their traditional religion and had converted to Christianity. Therefore as a young boy Achebe was exposed to a combination of traditionalism as well as Christian influence.

Storytelling was a part of their rich Nigerian tradition and he grew up listening to the stories told by his family members.

He joined St. Philip’s Central School in 1936. He was a very bright student and appreciated by his teachers.

He was accepted into the highly prestigious Government College in Umuahia in 1944. An exceptionally brilliant student, he completed his studies there in just four years instead of the standard five. He loved the library and spent hours reading books by different authors.

He got admitted as a Major Scholar in Nigeria’s first university, the University College in 1948 and was also given a scholarship to study medicine. However his interest was not in medicine and he shifted to study English, history and theology, and lost his scholarship in the process.

He started writing while at the university and made his debut as an author with his article ‘Polar Undergraduate’ in the ‘University Herald’ in 1950. He also wrote numerous other stories, essays and letters during this time. He graduated from the college in 1953.

Career

He worked as a teacher at a small school in a dilapidated building for four months. He encouraged his students to develop a reading habit.

In 1954, he got an opportunity to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) in Lagos. His job was to prepare scripts for oral delivery. His experience there helped him in writing realistic dialogues later on in his writing career.

During this time he also began working on a novel. As a student he had been critical of the manner in which European writers portrayed Africa and its culture, and was determined to depict his culture realistically himself.

He was inspired by the works of the Nigerian writer Cyprian Ekwensi who was primarily an exception in the literary world which had seen few other notable writers from Nigeria.

He was appointed at the Staff School run by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1956 and this gave him the chance to go to London and get feedback on the novel he was working on.

After editing and revising his novel, he sent it to a London company for publishing. His debut novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’ was released in 1958. The book was well received, and ‘The Observer’ called it ‘an excellent novel’.

His second novel, ‘No Longer at Ease’ (1960) dealt with a man who gets entangled in a world of corruption and is arrested for taking a bribe.

He became the Director of External Broadcasting at the NBS and helped to create the Voice of Nigeria network. The network’s first broadcast transmission was on New Year’s Day 1962.

He attended an executive conference of African writers in English in Uganda where he met other prominent writers from around the world including Kofi Awoonor, Wole Soyinka and Langston Hughes.

His novel ‘Arrow of God’ was out in 1964, followed by ‘A Man of the People’ in 1966.

In 1967, he along with a friend Christopher Okigbo started a publishing company called Citadel Press to promote better quality of African literature available to children.

He became a research fellow and later a professor of English at the University of Nigeria in 1976 and held this post till 1981.

He spent most of the 1980s traveling, attending conferences and delivering speeches.

His novel ‘Anthills of the Savannah’ published in 1987 was about a military coup in a fictional African land.

In 1990, he was involved in a tragic car accident that left him paralyzed from waist below; he would have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

The disability, however, could not demoralize the courageous writer and he became the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College, New York.

In 2009 he became a member of the Brown University faculty as the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor of Africana Studies.

Major Works

His debut novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ is one of the first African novels in English to have received global critical acclaim. The book is widely read throughout the world and has been translated into more than 50 languages.

Awards & Achievements

He was presented the Man Booker International Prize in 2007 for his literary career. Judge Nadine Gordimer called him the ‘father of modern African literature’ at the Award ceremony.

He won The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 2010. The annual prize is given to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”

Personal Life & Legacy

He married Christie Okoli in 1961 and had four children. He went on to become a grandfather of six.

He died after an illness in 2013.

Trivia

He has received over 30 honorary degrees from universities all over the world.

Nelson Mandela cites him as one of his favourite authors.

// Famous Writers

Chinua Achebe awards

YearNameAward

Other

2007 - Man Booker International Prize
1982 - Commonwealth Poetry Prize
2007- Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
- St. Louis Literary Award

Chinua Achebe biography timelines

  • // 16th Nov 1930
    He was born as Albert Chinualumogu Achebe in Nigeria to Isaiah Okafo Achebe and Janet Ilogbunam. He had five surviving siblings.
  • // 1936
    He joined St. Philip’s Central School in 1936. He was a very bright student and appreciated by his teachers.
  • // 1944
    He was accepted into the highly prestigious Government College in Umuahia in 1944. An exceptionally brilliant student, he completed his studies there in just four years instead of the standard five. He loved the library and spent hours reading books by different authors.
  • // 1948
    He got admitted as a Major Scholar in Nigeria’s first university, the University College in 1948 and was also given a scholarship to study medicine. However his interest was not in medicine and he shifted to study English, history and theology, and lost his scholarship in the process.
  • // 1953
    He started writing while at the university and made his debut as an author with his article ‘Polar Undergraduate’ in the ‘University Herald’ in 1950. He also wrote numerous other stories, essays and letters during this time. He graduated from the college in 1953.
  • // 1954
    In 1954, he got an opportunity to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) in Lagos. His job was to prepare scripts for oral delivery. His experience there helped him in writing realistic dialogues later on in his writing career.
  • // 1956
    He was appointed at the Staff School run by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1956 and this gave him the chance to go to London and get feedback on the novel he was working on.
  • // 1958
    After editing and revising his novel, he sent it to a London company for publishing. His debut novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’ was released in 1958. The book was well received, and ‘The Observer’ called it ‘an excellent novel’.
  • // 1960
    His second novel, ‘No Longer at Ease’ (1960) dealt with a man who gets entangled in a world of corruption and is arrested for taking a bribe.
  • // 1961
    He married Christie Okoli in 1961 and had four children. He went on to become a grandfather of six.
  • // 1962
    He became the Director of External Broadcasting at the NBS and helped to create the Voice of Nigeria network. The network’s first broadcast transmission was on New Year’s Day 1962.
  • // 1964
    His novel ‘Arrow of God’ was out in 1964, followed by ‘A Man of the People’ in 1966.
  • // 1967
    In 1967, he along with a friend Christopher Okigbo started a publishing company called Citadel Press to promote better quality of African literature available to children.
  • // 1976 To 1981
    He became a research fellow and later a professor of English at the University of Nigeria in 1976 and held this post till 1981.
  • // 1987
    His novel ‘Anthills of the Savannah’ published in 1987 was about a military coup in a fictional African land.
  • // 1990
    In 1990, he was involved in a tragic car accident that left him paralyzed from waist below; he would have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
  • // 2007
    He was presented the Man Booker International Prize in 2007 for his literary career. Judge Nadine Gordimer called him the ‘father of modern African literature’ at the Award ceremony.
  • // 2009
    In 2009 he became a member of the Brown University faculty as the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor of Africana Studies.
  • // 2010
    He won The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 2010. The annual prize is given to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”
  • // 21st Mar 2013
    He died after an illness in 2013.

// Famous Novelists

Chinua Achebe's FAQ

  • What is Chinua Achebe birthday?

    Chinua Achebe was born at 1930-11-16

  • When was Chinua Achebe died?

    Chinua Achebe was died at 2013-03-21

  • Where was Chinua Achebe died?

    Chinua Achebe was died in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

  • Which age was Chinua Achebe died?

    Chinua Achebe was died at age 82

  • Where is Chinua Achebe's birth place?

    Chinua Achebe was born in Ogidi, Nigeria Protectorate

  • What is Chinua Achebe nationalities?

    Chinua Achebe's nationalities is Nigerian

  • Who is Chinua Achebe spouses?

    Chinua Achebe's spouses is Okoli

  • Who is Chinua Achebe siblings?

    Chinua Achebe's siblings is John taught, Zinobia Uzoma

  • Who is Chinua Achebe childrens?

    Chinua Achebe's childrens is Chidi, Chinelo, Ikechukwu

  • What was Chinua Achebe universities?

    Chinua Achebe studied at University of Ibadan, University of London

  • Who is Chinua Achebe's father?

    Chinua Achebe's father is Isaiah Okafo Achebe

  • Who is Chinua Achebe's mother?

    Chinua Achebe's mother is Janet Anaenechi Iloegbunam

  • What is Chinua Achebe's sun sign?

    Chinua Achebe is Scorpio

  • How famous is Chinua Achebe?

    Chinua Achebe is famouse as Nigerian novelist