My love affair with Chinua Achebe started young, as an avid reader, encouraged by my grandfather, my appetite for books was insatiable. After reading A Tale of Two Cities, my grandfather decided that I should read Things Fall Apart.
I was slightly skeptical about the hype but I delved into it after learning more about him as a person. He was African.
When I finished the book, I realize that it had changed my life. I know that’s a heavy thing for a 13 year old but I was astounded. I couldn’t believe it. It was more amazing than I could have understood at the time but then, I read it again. Slowly the second time around, sounding out the words in my head and letting it sink in.
I was elated that someone African who looked like me, who wasn’t from the UK or the US wrote something so powerful and so enchanting. It was in the afterglow of my thoughts for Things Fall Apart that I begun to play with the idea of trying to make writing something a part of my life.
I was inspired enough to think that my voice mattered, that it may make a difference and more importantly that all stories need to be told.
While Things Fall Apart was my first high, each subsequent book or essay or short story delivered. He was consistent and he was a prophet. He knew that we needed guidance, that we needed to believe in ourselves and our future but it didn’t mean that you had to forget the past.
He died a legendary Writer, Professor, Poet and Critic. He’s inspired me and many others I’m sure to follow their dreams, tell their stories, preserve their integrity and walk with dignity. I’m am happy to strive to be more like he was.
In his words:
“People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.”