Chinua Achebe: Power in Writing and Reading
Chinua Achebe a world recognized author, poet, storyteller,
intellectual and role model has shared for years the power
of reading, importance of comprehension and skillfulness of
writing in his works of art.
The art of writing can never be marginized or down played.
Achebe has shared that everyone has a story and must take
the time to tell their stories.
His global influence is in how cultures can relate to the
colonization of their nations by others that seek to destroy
and then re-assimilate others into a world that only recognizes
their perceived domination. Nigeria and other nations of Africa,
which is a continent not a country, has experienced decades
of colonization and forced servitude (slavery) from European
These words expressed in my blog are concerning the importance
of reading, comprehension, writing and sharing knowledge.
As a teacher on the elementary level and in higher education I
see the struggles of youth and young adults that cannot read
proficiently nor comprehend on an intellectual level that allows
for gainful employment and academic success and stability.
Intellectual icons like Achebe and others are great role models to
encourage and engage in the reading process, why comprehension
is vital and how colonization has affected nations globally.
Following the foundation of reading by Nigerian author Chinua
Achebe, “there is value and importance of books.” Libraries are
an important resource for people to help lift them up from social
challenges and emotional/psychological tragedies. Who has not
been inspired by a book, poem or article that engages them
emotionally or psychologically creating a drive and a passion for
learning and changing the world?
In many countries people are not allowed to read and if they are it is
sanctioned by the government. They are told what to read to reinforce
social programming and propaganda. African Americans not too long
ago faced this in the United States as property of slave owners who
benefited from their slaves being unable to read, write and engage
in communication on a large scale.
This still is present in the world even in the 21st century. These
influences have resulted in generations of illiterate people that are
slaves to ignorance. Today people have a choice to learn or remain
in the darkness of ignorance.
Proverb from Nigeria – “Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.”
Listening to Chinua Achebe on many interviews and conferences
on Youtube videos he shares his experiences about the colonization
of Nigeria and Africa. How the educational system programmed and
conditioned the minds of Nigerians and Africans away from their
cultural heritage and cultural unity.
The same happened in the United States with Hispanics, Native
Americans, Africans, and Asians. The cultural relevancy is stripped
away and replaced by ideologies that any other cultures deserve
to serve and is weak and less than the status quo.
Reading and Comprehension
Reading and comprehension are powerful tools to free the mind
and empower it with the free will of thought and exploration. Achebe
exclaims the power of stories and the power of writing. Both allow
the exchange of information that opens doors to broaden the minds
of children and adults.
The story teller or author possess the skills of engagement and
reflective abilities to allow the reader to rationalize and analyze
for themselves. Reading, literacy, comprehension, critical and
higher order thinking are tools the mind needs to make the
appropriate adjustments to information provided.
Writers have a responsibility to share truth and accuracy. There are
always two sides to a story, the truth and the deception. Real writers,
“ambition should be to distinguish between good and bad.” Achebe
What children read shapes their minds, parents should be supportive
and even role models for their children in reading. An important point
especially for African American children is that what they read should
exchange the views that they are “human beings and valuable” as
Achebe states. These view points from Achebe are important because
African Americans and Africans share in the colonization and castration
of their cultures. The connection to each other has purposefully and
strategically been cut, broken, damaged and poisoned. Hearing African
American youth state that Africans live in jungles and huts and eat
monkeys is a testament of brainwashing and propaganda from years
of European influence.
The connections provided and encouraged by reading are real with
building self-esteem and cultural / self respect. There is a global connect
not just with Africa, but with people of color globally. Numerous studies
have shown that children that read and comprehend on grade level or even
slightly below, can increase their levels, they have lower discipline problems
in school, have higher self-esteems, have higher articulation (speaking)
skills, increased vocabulary (access to words and usage) and will analyze
their environment making better decisions.
“A functioning, robust democracy requires a healthy educated, participatory
followership, and an educated, morally grounded leadership.” Chinua Achebe
The range of authors from Baldwin, duBois, Douglas, Woodson, Walker,
Hughes, Dunbar, and others are pivotal in shaping the minds of thousands
through their literary works of the past.
Parents need to have a reading library where they can store, highlight,
incorporate, integrate and infuse reading in their homes. Even if they are
not “good” readers they and their children can teach, mentor, model and
help each other. That is what families do; help each other to grow for the
betterment of the whole not just the individual.
Many youth, teens and young adults have a story to tell about their lives
and their environment. Achebe eloquently has stated before that, writers
have an over powering reason to tell a story and you have information
of a unique story, burning to come out and in the process
consider the whole project worth the trouble.
Nations that seek to be influential in the world can only do so by
having an educated society and leadership, the more educated the
better, as stated by Achebe, “A functioning, robust democracy requires
a healthy educated, participatory followership, and an educated,
morally grounded leadership.” Chinua Achebe