His novels, short stories, poems, essays and political statements join together to show a personality formed by many disparate cultural backgrounds, yet strong and full of personal integrity.
Its Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe, turns 80 this year. The Education of a British-Protected Child, a collection of autobiographical essays written by Achebe between anddoes not explicitly set out to celebrate these anniversaries, but that is exactly its effect.
We expect Achebe to go on to lay out a revised structure before us, but this does not happen. Just acknowledging the impossibility of containing an entire life within one book of essays somehow solves the problem.
He just gets on with it. Raised by Christian missionary parents in the midst of a traditional Igbo community, Achebe was made aware early on of the cultural, political, and linguistic complexity that characterised 20th-century Nigeria.
The arguments he offers here and elsewhere in this collection are not new, but by personalising them and tying them into his own experience, Achebe causes us to re-examine our attitudes towards them.
This essay from addresses the way the international community regards the African continent.
Achebe makes reference to the thinking of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, and David Livingstone in his discussions of how Africa should engage or not with its colonial past, and considers how their messages can help us move forward. Those familiar with this topic will enjoy this essay as a witty refresher, and anyone unaware of the debate but interested in world literature would do well to begin their research here.
As in Things Fall Apart, Achebe draws on traditional African sayings, tales, and songs throughout the collection, revealing a rich culture that Achebe himself has been instrumental in opening up to the Western and pan-African reader.
His writings should be on a list of required reading for all those thinking of taking up office—perhaps then we might end up with a political class ready to treat the electorate with the respect it is due. In the end, what makes Achebe so readable and his work such a valuable resource when it comes to thinking about colonialism, race relations, international relations, or literature is the humanity that suffuses his writing.
By drawing on the positive aspects of each of these areas of experience, but ultimately refusing to be limited by their boundaries, Achebe brings these disparate worlds together in his work, creating a literary voice that speaks to and of humanity.
He is a writer to be treasured and respected.Achebe’s books of essays include Morning Yet on Creation Day (), Hopes and Impediments (), Home and Exile (), The Education of a British-Protected Child (), and the autobiographical There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra ().
In . The Education of a British-Protected Child is a conversation that continues from where Chinua Achebe’s The Trouble with Nigeria () stops (see Achebe’s remarks in this regard, p).
Editions for The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays: (Hardcover published in ), (Paperback published in ), The Education of a British-Protected Child is the first book by Chinua Achebe to appear in a decade, but more than anything it suggests the author has not moved on into the new millennium.
Almost all the pieces here are at least a decade old, and several date to the s. The jacket advertises this book of essays as Chinua Achebe's 'first new book in more than twenty years', but in fact it mostly collects essays and addresses that were written between and , with one from and two from /5.
Achebe, on the other hand, found a ready parallel in his Igbo culture's ritual of mbari, which he describes as "a celebration, through art, of the world and of the life lived in it".