May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, whose novel “Things Fall Apart” is one of the most-read books by an African author, was buried today in his hometown of Ogidi in the country’s southeast.
Achebe, who died in Boston on March 21 at the age of 82, was lowered into his grave with tens of thousands in attendance, including fellow writers, academics, citizens and politicians, whom he often criticized in his works. Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan and Ghana’s President John Mahama were among the guests.
Born in 1930, Achebe published “Things Fall Apart” at the age of 28. He said he had written the book in response to portrayals of Africans by European writers such as Joseph Conrad and Joyce Cary. The book has sold more than 12 million copies and been translated into more than 50 languages, according to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island where Achebe most recently taught as professor of Africana studies.
The writer had rejected two national honors in his lifetime, including one by Jonathan, citing widespread corruption and misrule among the political leadership in Africa’s most populous country. Jonathan at the funeral read an excerpt about political corruption in Nigeria in the 1960s from Achebe’s final book, “There Was a Country,” published last year.
“For those of us holding political office, we should ask ourselves: Have we changed?” Jonathan said to applause at the end of the passage.
Achebe is “an icon of African literature who helped shape my formative years” with his writing, Mahama said.
The two West African leaders pledged to jointly rebuild the local elementary school in Ogidi, now in disrepair, where Achebe had his early education.
To contact the reporter on this story: Dulue Mbachu in Abuja at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at email@example.com