Chinua Achebe - A Great Nigerian Writer & Novelist

Things Fall Apart - A Must Read

One of the most memorable books I have ever read was a literature book that was chosen school-wide by my high school English Literature Teacher. The name of the book is, Things Fall Apart. What really adhered me to this book are the events that took place in the book, the characters of the book, most of whom I could visualize whenever I read the book as some do bear some resemblance in character to the uncles I grew up knowing on my father's of the family.

Things Fall Apart was the brain child of a great Nigerian writer, Mr. Chinua Achebe. For those who do not know Chinua Achebe, let me give you a brief introduction of this great writer and poet.

Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe

Who Is Chinua Achebe?

Chinua Achebe was born in 1930 in the traditional Igbo village of Ogidi, in the then eastern Nigeria. He was a novelist, poet and an essayist. Achebe was raised a Christian after his parents converted to Christianity and went to a missionary school. As the practice was in most missionary schools in Nigeria, students were forbidden to speak their native language, and were often encouraged to abstain from all traditions that might be associated with a pagan way of life. But that didn't stop Achebe's mother and older sister from telling young Achebe ancient folk tales that were rooted deep in his Ibo traditions and ancestry.

These stories no doubt laid the foundation for his love of story telling through literature and novels as he will later described them as having "the immemorial quality of the sky, and the forests and the rivers".

Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart"

To attempt to list all of Chinua Achebe's written work will be impossible for me to do as even I do not know all he's written, but some. His first book or novel and the one he is best known for was 'Things Fall Apart'.

This novel was published in 1958. It has since became a classic of world literature. Things Fall Apart has been translated into some 50 languages, and has sold over 11 million copies. The story is set in an Ibo village in Nigeria during colonial era, just as the Ibo people there had their first encounters with European Christian Missionaries.

It tells of the rise and fall of Okonkwo, an Ibo warrior, who is unable to adapt to the changing conditions in the early days of British rule. Okonkwo, a self-made man who struggled between the old traditions and rituals of his culture, and the new, that is, the introduction of the Christianity brought by the missionaries of the colonial era.

In one of the scene in the novel, one of Okonkwo friend, Obierika, can be quoted saying, "The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers and our clan can no longer act like one..." And when a clan can no longer act like one, it falls apart.

The young Chinua Achebe displaying his first novel 'Things Fall Apart'
The young Chinua Achebe displaying his first novel 'Things Fall Apart'

The Birth of Things Fall Apart

"Something needed to be done. Someone needed to tell my story, the story of my people."

Chinua Achebe, a man who at the time of colonial rule had graduated from the University College at Ibadan, had read countless books in literature. His love for books kept him often at his university's library. There he discovered and read Up From Slavery, the autobiography of an American former slave, by Booker T. Washington. He also read classic novels, such as Gulliver's Travels and David Copperfield, and many other books. In reading, he discovered a common theme among some of the books he read. The Africans are usually depicted as 'savages'. Achebe knew then that 'something needed to be done'.

You see, for a long time the story of Africans, its people, and the African cultures have always been told through the lens of the European writers and the colonial masters. Chinua Achebe believed that his place in the world was to tell his story, and the story of his people. And, by that, he meant, not just the Ibo people, but the story of Africans as it should be told.

This ideology of Chinua Achebe gave birth to Things Fall Apart. And, though the story of Things Fall Apart is about a people far away in the culture of eastern Nigeria, it has touched the lives of readers all over the world, even as far away in East Asia. These readers see in "Things Fall Apart" their own story of sufferings during colonial dictatorship and rule.

Things Fall Apart now sits on the shelves of most universities all over the world. I got to enjoy reading it again as a student of African-American Literature at Eastern Michigan University in the late 1900s, and it is still the most read literature book in most American high schools and colleges today. Some estimated 10 million copies have been sold, and obviously read.

Which of these Chinua Achebe's books have you read?

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Other novels would follow Things Fall Apart. No Longer at Ease, which was more like a sequel to Things Fall Apart was published in 1958. No Longer At Ease features the grandson of Okonkwo working for the British colonial civil service in the 1950s.

Some of his other written works are as follows, but not necessarily in sequence:

  • Arrow of God - Published in 1964

  • Girls At War

  • Home and Exile

  • Chike and the River

  • A Man of The People

  • Anthills of the Savannah

  • There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra

Chinua Achebe - Worth The Prize & More

Chinua Achebe's collection of Christmas in Biafra won him the Commonwealth poetry prize. In 1987, he was a finalist for the Booker prize for his novel Anthills of the Savannah, and in 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction. Chinua Achebe has also written numerous essays that he's been recognized for.

Chinua Achebe - You Did Nigeria Proud!

Chinua Achebe used his writings to speak out again the injustices and corruption in the Nigerian government. Chinua Achebe died on March 21, 2013 following an illness and hospital stay in Boston, Massachusetts. He was 82 years old.


Do you love to write? Do you have a passion for sharing with others what you know? You can do that by signing up right here on hubpages. And guess what? You'll make some money doing it too. Writing, that is.

Author: Comfort Babatola - ©2013

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Comments 34 comments

PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 3 years ago from Florida


I am so happy I read this hub ---what a great person he must be to share so much in books about his people with the stories told to him.

Thanks for sharing.

Bobbi Purvis

truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

I read Achebe in my African Literature class in college. His first book started a renaissance in more readers of African Literature around the world. I was sorry to hear the news today that he had passed. Wonderful tribute and information.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

Sounds like a very interesting persona and author. Thanks for sharing this man's views and works.

sallybea profile image

sallybea 3 years ago from Norfolk

I will definitely put this on my wish list to read. This looks like a fascinating read especially for someone who was born in Africa and had few opportunities to read books written by black authors during the Apartheid era. Thanks for sharing.

Sirius Centauri profile image

Sirius Centauri 3 years ago from Johannesburg, South Africa

Achebe was of my favorite authors of all time. He was a prolific freedom writer and activist. His ascension leaves a huge space to fill. I hope other African authors can step up and continue on his legacy. One of the best descriptions of what Chinua Achebe meant to Nigerians and other Africans came from Nelson Mandela who said that Achebe brought (introduced) the real Africa to the world.

Nice hub Comfort B.

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@ PurvisBobbi44 - Indeed, his writing was his tool in letting the world know what his people were all about.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Well appreciated. :)

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@truthfornow - Thank you. I was surprised and also proud to see his books chosen in my African-American Literature class in Michigan, years after I've read it in Nigeria. He was such a prolific writer.

Thanks for your comments.

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@teaches12345 - He was an interesting author. One of the best Nigeria has produced. And he lived doing what he was born to do, write. And writing he did!

Thanks for stopping by. As always, I appreciated the friendship. :)

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@sallybea - You are so welcome! I am so glad you enjoyed reading this. Thank you so stopping by, and know that you are appreciated.

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@Sirius Centauri - You are so right about C. Achebe's creativity in his writings. And yes, he was also a mentor a great many young Nigerian authors, who I believe will carry on his legacy. And like Nelson Mandela Said, he brought the real Africa to the world through his writing.

Thanks for your kind comment. Very much appreciated!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

This book was one my daughter did for English Literature. I never read it, but thanks for bring it to my remembrance. I'm presently looking for reading material. Thanks for your article.

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

Thanks MsDora. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading Things Fall Apart. It's a great book. Thanks for the read and comment. :)

molometer profile image

molometer 3 years ago

Nigeria has produced some great writers and Chinua Achebe is up there with the best of them. I have read some of his writings.

It is interesting that wherever the British went they banned the local language.

They did the same in Ireland, and as Chinua states and I paraphrase here.

'Without the language there is no culture to pass on'

Have you heard of Buchi Emecheta. She is from Lagos and is simply brilliant. Her book 'In the Ditch' is a must read.

Great hub and very interesting.

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@molometer - No, I haven't heard of Buchi! I do need to get that book per your recommendation. Nigeria do have great writers as you rightly said. Thank you for your comment.

donnah75 profile image

donnah75 3 years ago from Upstate New York

What a lovely tribute to an amazing man. One of my great regrets in life is that I didn't find the time or courage to meet him when he was teaching at Bard College. I lived near there and even worked on campus for a short time. I could have gone to visit him during his office hours, but I always put it off and never made it. I do know a few people who did know him, and from their reports, he was remarkable. His writing is wonderful. When I read the obituary in the NY Times, I actually hadn't realized how much he wrote in his life. I have some catching up to do. Voted up and sharing :)

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

I was so sorry to hear of his passing away. I have read " Things Fall Apart" and it was on our 8th grade Language Arts reading list. The kids read it outside of class and then did a project on it to present in class. I love the story - it is sad and poignant - but sometimes that is how life is. He did a wonderful job of bringing his Nigerian village alive for us, along with the culture, customs and mores of the time. His stance against colonialism was the great theme of his books. This is a great hub about him an his literature. Thank you so much for this. I enjoyed reading it. Voted up!

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@donnah75 - An amazing man indeed. Chinua Achebe was one of African gem. Great author. He'll be missed.

Thank you for your kind words, and vote. Very much appreciated. :)

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@suzettenaples - It was his time to go. I believe even he would say, that, life is what it is. His life has touched so many. Even I am surprised by how far his writings have gone to bringing an awareness to the real Nigeria.

Today, we can imagine how the cultures and people of his time felt as we look into his books through the lens of Chinua Achebe.

I'm glad you enjoyed this hub, and thank you for your kind words, and, for the vote. :)

dwachira profile image

dwachira 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Hi ComfortB,

It was sad hearing the news of Chinua Achebe demise, he was a gifted writer and i love reading his novels. Things Fall Apart has been used as a set book for many years in Kenyan high schools. Everyone who went through Kenyan education system virtual knows Chinua Achebe and especially by his novels including No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God and many others. It is a great tribute to have written about him here. Voted up, useful and shared.

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

It's amazing that so many have been touched by his writings. Thanks dwachira for your kind words, and for sharing. :)

profile image

Educateurself 3 years ago

Great hub, as on I am from Pakistan before this we don't know, but thanks to you for sharing this hub about this man.

Jephiter S Ondari profile image

Jephiter S Ondari 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

a man of the people..........I was forced to read more of his books when our seniors in high school made us look like fools if we knew nothing to do with this great novel..

You did it.... voted up and shared

Joseph Muendo profile image

Joseph Muendo 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

A great African writer. I enjoyed reading a man of the people.

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@Educateurself - Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on hub by him. Well appreciated. :)

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@Jephiter S Ondari - Forced to read his novels? I know what you mean. Seniors can be cruel sometimes. Aren't you glad you read those books though? Now you have a wealth of knowledge that no one can take from you.

Thank you. I appreciated your time, comment and vote. :)

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

Thank you Mr. Joseph Muendo. I am honored.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

A great recommendation and I will definitely follow your suggestion. Thank you my friend and have a wonderful day.

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

You're welcome Bill. Your comment are always appreciated. Thank you. :)

kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Bless you, ComfortB.,

for such a terrific hub. I enjoyed this presentation very much. Voted Up and all of the choices. What a writer he was. You are right. Writer's are born, not made.

I urge you to never quit writing for any reason or anyone. Unless God commands you to quit for another mission.

And I cordially-invite you to head over to my profile, check one or two of my hubs and be one of my followers.

I would love it.


Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama

Author Sam profile image

Author Sam 21 months ago from Nigeria

This is great hub! As a Nigerian i am, though did not study literature but i will like to write Novella too eve if its not as good as others. well done

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 21 months ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@Author Sam - Thank you for your nice comments. I'm sure you will do well if you write your own novel. Our culture is rich and there's so much to write about.

Author Sam profile image

Author Sam 21 months ago from Nigeria

@Comfort you encouraged people to write on hubpages, how can a Nigerian receive any income earned here since paypal does not accept Nigerians? thanks

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 21 months ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@Author Sam - I am not aware that PayPal does not accept Nigerians. I do know that they do not have a payment method for paying to Nigerian residents. I'm not sure what you will do in this case. But I'll definitely look into this.

Author Sam profile image

Author Sam 21 months ago from Nigeria

@Cormfort, what means then have you used to recieve your hub earnings? Thats what i need to know from you pls....

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