Home And Exile: Chinua Achebe In 1958 Chinua Achebe published Things Fall Apart. African literature is the subject of Home And Exile (2001). Download Chinua Achebe Book or Ebook File with PDF Epub Audio and Full format File with Free Account.
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'The Empire Writes Back' would have been a fitting alternative title for this essay collection. (Achebe doesn't fail to pay a tribute to Salman Rushdie's essay of the same name published in 1982). Because that is what the running theme here is - a reclamation of a land and a culture that was wrested away with brutal force and made a part of an 'Empire' which still insists on viewing that period as one of glory and not characterized by the worst kind of human rights violation ever. And a heraldin 'The Empire Writes Back' would have been a fitting alternative title for this essay collection. (Achebe doesn't fail to pay a tribute to Salman Rushdie's essay of the same name published in 1982). Because that is what the running theme here is - a reclamation of a land and a culture that was wrested away with brutal force and made a part of an 'Empire' which still insists on viewing that period as one of glory and not characterized by the worst kind of human rights violation ever. And a heralding of the arrival of the African voice in the world literary scene.
Achebe is slowly turning into my personal literary hero. His wry humor, elegant prose, mildly sardonic tone and passion for social justice exude a righteousness that's hard not to defer to.
His writings continue to make me question certain pet notions and ideas that are so deeply ingrained in each one of us that they seem like indisputable facts and consequently evade further introspection. My penchant for unconsciously comparing Latin American, South East Asian and African writing to the style, technique and language of the Americans and Europeans I admire and immediately pronouncing judgement on them on the basis of said parameters has to go away now, I realize.
It doesn't matter if African, Asian and other writers of the Commonwealth (Dear god, why do we have that ridiculous redundant grouping still? Is it not there for the sole purpose of reminding us that we were once colonies?) have the same degree of grammatical precision and structural integrity to their English prose as their European and American counterparts. It matters that their voices be heard and universally acknowledged and the overlooked truths, their narratives highlight, be analyzed without bias. Although this collection consists of 3 essays titled 'My Home Under Imperial Fire', 'The Empire Fights Back' and 'Today, the Balance of Stories' it should be considered a single body of work or discourse intended to dispel certain flawed notions about African people who are often derogatorily referred to as 'tribes' and automatically consigned to a lesser category of humanity. Achebe begins with his reminiscences on his early years as a young university student in Nigeria, reading literature based on Africa authored mostly by British and European scholars who, of course, liberally manufactured painfully offensive 'facts' regarding the intellectual and anatomical inferiority of his fellow brethren and propagated the theory that European acquisition of their land and sphere of existence was for the sake of their own personal benefit.
This is what Achebe says about the interlinked nature of inherently racist literature of the time (he is sophisticated enough not to use the word 'racist' even once though) and the Atlantic slave trade:- 'I will merely say that a tradition does not begin and thrive, as the tradition of British writing about Africa did, unless it serves a certain need. From the moment in the 1560s when the English captain John Hawkins sailed to West Africa and 'got into his possession, partly by the sword and partly by other means, to the number of three hundred Negroes,' the European trade in slaves was destined by its very profitability to displace trade in commodities with West Africa.'
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