Two of Nigeria’s most prominent writers, Prof. Chinua Achebe and Prof. Wole Soyinka, have made the Guardian of London’s list of the 100 greatest non-fiction writers.
Achebe’s selected memoir, An Image of Africa, criticised Joseph Conrad for portraying African characters as savages, incapable of intelligent speech. As Achebe says, “Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as “the other world,” the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man’s vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality.”
Published in 1975, Achebe challenges western cultural imperialism in his argument that Heart of Darkness was a racist novel, which deprives its African characters of humanity, the paper said.
The Man Died , written by Soyinka in 1971, selected under the category, Memoir, is a powerful autobiographical account of Soyinka’s experiences in prison during the Nigerian civil war. At that time, Soyinka had campaigned for a peaceful settlement of the crisis between the Biafran and Nigerian side; an idea that didn’t go down well with the Gowon administration.
He was arrested and put in solitary confinement for 22 months for his efforts. Being in prison didn’t deter Soyinka from writing poems on tissue papers, which were later published in a collection titled Poems from Prison.