Chinua Achebe “A Text Book Act” for Education
William Jackson, M.Edu.
Instructor with Edward Waters College
“Until the lions have their own historians,
the history of the hunt will always glorify
the hunter…” Chinua Achebe
Imagine a law that did not allow you to read on certain days
of the week, or at certain times of the day. Imagine a law that
governed what you could and could not read. Imagine because
of the color of your skin you were kept ignorant intentionally
so that generations would be treated like cattle or worse.
As one of the founding fathers of literature in Nigeria,
Chinua Achebe and others faced these same restrictions
directed to keep Nigerians oppressed mentally, this leads to
limiting the skill sets for Nigerians and Africans. The same was
faced during slavery for Blacks in America. The importance of
education and being a life-long learner cannot be expressed
in just text, but is shared through videos and even storytelling.
This is why libraries and museums are important, they create
the atmosphere’s for learning and continued learning.
Chinua Achebe at an early age was fascinated by books and
learning, books opened doors to higher thinking that later
contributed to Achebe to writing books that became
internationally known and inspired generations to make
formative changes to their value of education not just in
Nigeria, but all of Africa and globally.
Achebe was raised during a time of British colonialism
where students were not allowed to read books about
history and geography. To learn their own heritage, only
of white characters and history. Achebe states that,
“books have power and influence,” that is why they were
limited to what they could read. African Americans too
are self imposing themselves to reading, and the lack of
reading leads to a lack or diminished ability to comprehend
what is read.
Too many times because of the lack of comprehension and
the inability to read African Americans do not see that
literature can inspire and engage the mind to think outside
of the boxes of ignorance and lack of understanding.
The depiction of themselves (African American youth) as
gangstas, thugs, ruffians, and other designations that are
demeaning and even racists can be found in newpapers and
other literature. The lack of reading creates generations of
children that have no idea of worlds beyond their
neighborhoods, their cities and the building of dreams
to expand past their social and economic conditions.
African American families cannot afford to wait to be
“lucky” in sports and entertainment to escape their
neighborhoods, the successes are limited in these two
areas, and once escaped there is still the need to be
educated in higher education so as to not return to
their roots broken in finances and even in education.
Everyone has a story to tell, but if they are illiterate and
ignorant to the best promises of education they will
never be able to tell their stories or learn from others.
Chinua Achebe escaped civil war in Nigeria, he escaped
but the ravages of war and the mis-guidance of people,
directions and complications of leadership lead to
several million people dying during the civil wars in Nigeria.
African Americans must understand the limits of protests,
the sometimes futility of marches and even the brashness
of invading others in speeches and public displays of
violence. In the 21st century power and influence is
recognized and respected in the application of power
through applying knowledge, economic influence and
political alliances. African Americans must learn that
what they bring to the table is more important and
powerful than marches and protests.
Chinua Achebe is honored as the “Father of African
Literature,” but who do African Americans call the
Father or Mother of literature and learning? Youth teens,
and young adults know the names of sports stars,
entertainment legends that bring about feelings, but
what of those who try to create platforms of engaged
dialogue and discussion on intellectual levels? Have they
been long forgotten because they demand something
that African Americans are increasingly willing to give
up on or too many don’t value?
From reading comes writing, how or who will tell the
stories of African Americans and their history in the 20th
and 21st centuries if there are not enough readers of
literature and writers of history from the African American
perspective. Achebe has stated that, “good writing requires
more than dashing things.” He states that from an
interpretation from Nigeria, “a human is human because
African Americans must support learning and re-build the
respect and value of education within the African American
community. There cannot be just a reliability of schools to
teach, it must be the responsibility of African American
families that are engaged in learning in their homes and learning
in their communities.
If Chinua Achebe can be called the “Father of African
Literature,” African American communities must recognize
and lift up those that fight for learning in their communities.
Who are these pioneers and protagonists of heroic statue
who encourage higher and higher learning? History will tell
and the children of each generation will tell the stories by
their actions in schools from elementary to higher education
Why become a writer from Chinua Achebe….
- You have an overpowering erge to tell a story.
You have information of a unique story waiting to come out.
3. What you learn in the process of becoming a writer.
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