When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool. -Chinua Achebe
By Francine Holmes
Nigerian author Chinua Achebe was one of my favorite writers. I read his most popular book: “Things Fall Apart” at the age of 17 in French and later in English. I was astounded by something that I felt in each of his writings that had a direct line into the displaced African condition. My attraction to his books is how effortlessly he enables the reader to get lost in the characters; you identify with their circumstances regardless of your ethnicity. From an African reader’s perspective, there is a sense of comfort that makes me feel like, “Not only do I get it, but he also gets me!” The familiar proverbs and idioms from my childhood feel like a call to action, the not-so-subtle rousing vernacular awakening the dormant yet powerful spirit within me.
Many of Achebe’s stories address the difficulties of the African identity, what it was, is and what by many accounts ought to be. He was very outspoken about the rampant corruption and deplorable way in which African countries were being run. His books and writings create an opportunity for many to peer into a side of Africa that for so long has been cloaked in a veil of outdated mysticism. He allows Africa to be truly seen — revered for her triumphant spirit and momentous beauty despite the less than ideal hand she was dealt. Achebe’s earnest courage and genius make me proud to be African.