Six decades after its publication, Things Fall Apart remains the novel to beat. This is not just in Africa where it towers ahead of many others, but also all over the world where its influence continues to grow. It is thus not surprising that different continents are gearing up for the Diamond celebration of the first novel of the legendary writer, Chinua Achebe.
At the head of the celebration is the Christy and Chinua Achebe Foundation, working with various institutions. According to a former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Dr. Wale Okediran, the project will hold between February and December.
He noted that the foundation was working with ANA, with activities scheduled to hold in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Sokoto and the grand finale at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
A five-man Africa Organising Committee, headed by Okediran, will oversee the organisation of the event in Nigeria and other African countries. Okediran feels elated that fellows of the Ebedi Residency Programme, which he founded about a decade ago, are in different African countries and are ready to be part of the organisation in their respective domains.
Okediran went on to say “Reactions from the African countries have been very encouraging. They even want to outdo one another. It is the first time we are taking the celebration out of Nigeria. Some people have asked, ‘Why are we still doing this?’ The fact is that we want to keep the literary flame aglow. We want to show that literature equally matters. Life is not just about politics. It is as important as the economy or cattle colony. We don’t want them to submerge us.
“So, in the Achebe celebration, literature is the focus. We are celebrating Achebe because of the impact he made on the development of African literature and beyond. We want to show others that if you do your work well as a writer, literature will outlive you. Of course, there is also the need to make the point that even if politics and religion are dividing us, literature is uniting us.”
Also, a colloquium will hold in Nigeria from February to August 2018 while other African countries will fix their own celebration.