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Achebe’s Bequest to the Nigerian Child

By Mobolaji Adenubi

In 1965, the BBC accepted and broadcast my short story, Strange Encounter, on the Writers’ Club Programme. It was read by Tonie Tucker and discussed, with high commendation, by Edward Blishen. Little did 1 know that the warm reception of my work was facilitated by the seminal book of the great Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, published in 1958!

This work breached the glass ceiling of western literary canon and made a veritable space in it for African literature. Of course, world literary canon now includes voices of authors from South America, Asia, Eastern Europe and Australia.

Over 12 million copies of Things Fall Apart have been sold and it has been translated into over 50 languages.

Chinua Achebe did not only write great works of fiction, he also produced works of criticism, essays and children’s stories. However, little attention has been paid to his children’s stories. Worried about the unfavourable presentation of Africa and things African in foreign books his children read and learnt, in their primary school, from expatriate teachers, he decided to correct these impressions.

In 1966, he wrote Chike and the River, the story of a courageous eleven-year-old Nigerian boy, who learns the difficult lesson of life; that life elsewhere is not as rosy as you often imagine it to be. It was published by the Cambridge University Press. In 1972, How the Leopard Got His Claws was produced by the Citadel Press – a publishing house he started with Christopher Okigbo, in Enugu.


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