Chinua Achebe, born in 1930, Nigerian novelist and poet, whose works explore the impact of European culture on African society. Achebe’s unsentimental, often ironic books vividly convey the traditions and speech of the Igbo people.
Born in Ogidi, Nigeria, Achebe was educated at the University College of Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan). He subsequently taught at various universities in Nigeria and the United States. Achebe wrote his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), partly in response to what he saw as inaccurate characterizations of Africa and Africans by British authors. The book describes the effects on Igbo society of the arrival of European colonizers and missionaries in the late 1800s. Achebe’s subsequent novels No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987) are set in Africa and describe the struggles of the African people to free themselves from European political influences.
During Nigeria’s tumultuous political period of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Achebe became politically active. Most of his literary works of this time address Nigeria’s internal conflict (see Nigeria, Federal Republic of: Civil War). These books include the volumes of poetry Beware, Soul Brother (1971) and Christmas in Biafra (1973), the short-story collection Girls at War (1972), and the children’s book How the Leopard Got His Claws (1972).
In 1971 Achebe helped to found the influential literary magazine Okike. His other writings include the essay collections Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975), which he later expanded under the title Hopes and Impediments (1988); and The Trouble with Nigeria (1983). Home and Exile (2000), which originated as three lectures given at Harvard University, chronicles Achebe’s literary awakening and development in a series of reminiscences and tales.