While many remember Chinua Achebe's masterpiece Things Fall Apart for its appearance on their summer reading lists, the passing of the African literary giant yesterday compels us to remember his biting social critiques and beloved Ibo nation of Nigeria.
His obituary in the New York Times, which is worth reading in its entirety, touches on the Nigerian civil war as well as the brief but tortured history of the land. The war devastated Achebe, and the trauma notoriously gave him writers block for more than twenty years.
For a country with few chroniclers as fierce or powerful as Chinua Achebe, one wonders who will bring us Nigeria's stories in the future. The author and poet was cautiously optimistic about the future of his homeland, but the country remains deeply unstable due to terrorist group Boko Haram and other threats.
As Achebe wrote in his later work Home and Exile, “People have sometimes asked me if I have thought of writing a novel about America, since I have now been living here some years. My answer has always been that America has enough novelists writing about here, and Nigeria too few." Sadly, now, even one fewer.