Chinua Achebe: 50th Anniversary of “Things Fall Apart”

Conversations with African Poets and Writers,
Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”

Through his fiction and non-fiction works, Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has sought to repair the damage done to the continent of Africa and its people as a result of European colonization. This is best exemplified in his most famous novel “Things Fall Apart,” one of the first African novels written in English to achieve national acclaim. Set in the 1890s, the novel deals with the impact of British colonialism on the traditional Igbo society in Nigeria. Published in 1958 – just two years before the end of a century of British rule in Nigeria – the novel celebrates its 50th anniversary of publication this year.

To mark this milestone, the Library’s African Section hosted a day-long program titled “Fifty Years of Chinua Achebe’s Celebrated Novel ‘Things Fall Apart.'”

Distinguished guest panelists include R. Victoria Arana, graduate professor of English at Howard University; Mbaye Cham, chair of the department of African Studies at Howard University; Philip Effiong, director of Academic Research and Information at the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa and adjunct associate of English at the University of Maryland University College; Simon Gikandi, Robert Schirmer Professor of English at Princeton University; Amadou Kone, professor of French and Francophone Studies at Georgetown University; Gwen Mikell, director of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University; Renee Poussaint, veteran network journalist and senior fellow at the University of Maryland Academy of Leadership; Jeanne Maddox Toungara, graduate professor of history at Howard University; and Eleanor Traylor, chair of the department of English at Howard University.

The symposium’s luncheon keynote address was given by renowned African scholar Ali A. Mazrui, Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities and director of the Institute of Global Cultural at Binghamton University, State University of New York. The closing keynote address was given by Ama Ata Aidoo, Ghanian novelist, playwright and scholar.