ACADEMICS and students gathered on Friday at Wits University to remember the life and times of the late Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe.
Achebe known for his popular and successful novel Things Fall Apart died last month at the age of 82. Achebe also wrote poems, essays, short stories and novels.
Christopher Arukwe, guest speaker at the memorial lecture hosted by West African Student Union (WASU) said Achebe influenced a generation of writers.
“He cleared narrow paths, he made literature look homey, and he tried to bring African literature home. He is an inspiration to everybody … and a great African relevant to his people,” he said.
Achebe is among Africa’s celebrated writers and his best selling literary works includes Arrow of God, No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People.
Professor Pumla Gqola, Wits Associate Professor in the Department of African Literature said every country in Africa claims Achebe as their own.
Gqola also lauded Achebe on the book Things Fall Apart. “I don’t know so many novels that can change the world, inspires so much critique around the world, across different fields. I do hope that going forward we will read his work, that we keep Chinua Achebe alive,” she said.
Wheelchair-bound after a car accident, Achebe lived in the United States initially while he lectured at Brown University and recently for medical reasons.
Post doctoral researcher at Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research (WISER) Dr Jendele Hungbo said Achebe broke the mould in African literature.
“He was the first group of writers who made literature possible in Africa … I see him as a fantastic African. His craft we are going to miss, he attempted to change the world. Did he achieve it? You know the answer”.