Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian author, who was most well known for his novel Things Fall Apart (1958). In addition to novels, Achebe has also written various poems and children’s stories, including a collection of short stories called How the Leopard Got His Claws (1972). Achebe was born on November 16, 1930 in the small village of Ogidi, Nigeria, and graduated from University of Ibadan, where he started writing stories as a student.
In the 1960’s, Achebe became the director of external broadcasting in the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1961, he married his wife, Christie Chinwe Okoli, and eventually had four children: Chinelo, Ikechukwu, Chidi and Nwando. Achebe’s first novels and arguably his best novels came out in the 1960’s, including Things Fall Apart (1958), No Longer At Ease (1960), and Arrow of God (1964). During the Nigerian civil war, Chinua Achebe worked as an ambassador from 1967 to 1970 for the rebel Nigerian group Biafra, but eventually moved to the United States because of the conflict. During this time, he founded the publishing corporation Citadel Press with friend and fellow writer Christopher Okigbo, who died in 1969 due to conflict in Nigeria. Achebe also became the director of two publishing companies, Heinemann Educational Books Ltd. and Nwankwo-Ifejika Ltd., in this time.
He gave lectures in various colleges to raise awareness of the conflict in Nigeria, and worked in several universities, including University of Massachusetts, the University of Connecticut and the University of Nigeria. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Achebe published more literature, including Beware, Soul Brother (1971), Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987), which won the Booker McConnell Prize. In early 1990, Chinua Achebe suffered a car accident that severely damaged his back and left him paralyzed. After this accident he moved back to the United States, where he worked in several colleges like Bard College and Brown University. Throughout his life, Achebe won several awards for literature, including the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award in 1979, the St. Louis Literary Award in 1999, the Man Booker International Prize in 2007, and The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 2010. Chinua Achebe died on March 21, 2013 at the age of 82 in Boston, Massachusetts.
My research project will focus on conflict in Africa, more specifically the civil war that occured in Ethiopia. Chinua Achebe was a supporter of the rebel group that broke off Nigeria during Nigeria’s civil war because of the failure and corruption of the Nigerian government. His life was dramatically affected by the conflict, even to the point of having to flee and move to the United States and having a friend killed in the war. Similarly, my research project will focus on the famine and deaths in Ethiopia caused by corruption and failure of the government.