My Quest To Teach

October 2, 2015

Chinua Achebe “A Text Book Act” for Education

Filed under: Education — William Jackson @ 09:00

Chinua Achege
Chinua Achebe “A Text Book Act” for Education
by William Jackson, M.Edu
Instructor with Edward Waters College
Jacksonville, Florida

“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 and even Africans oppressed
mentally, this leads to limiting the skill sets for Nigerians and
Africans to think and rationalize for themselves. 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 storytelling by the elders.
This is why libraries and museums are important, they create
the atmosphere for learning.

Chinua Achebe at an early age was fascinated by books and
learning, books opened doors to higher thinking that later
contributed to Achebe 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 for people of

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 was
forbidden, only learning of whites and their history of
colonizing the savages.
Achebe states that, “books have power and influence,”
that is why they were limited to what they could read.
To many African Americans are denying 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 or the 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 newspapers 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, once escaped there is still the need to
be educated in higher education so as not to 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
the ravages of war and the mis-guidance of people that
wanted to kill him and his family. Complications of
leadership lead to millions of people dying during the
civil wars in Nigeria and throughout Africa even today.

African Americans must understand the limits of protests,
sometimes the futility of marches and even the brashness
of interrupting others in speeches and public displays of
violence hurt us all. 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,” 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, a free mind?
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
of humans.” Thus African Americans celebrate African
Americans only because they know who they are. Children
in schools across this nation don’t even know their history.

African Americans must support learning and re-build the
respect and value of education within the African American
community. There cannot be 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 encourages higher and higher learning? History will tell
and the children of each generation will tell the stories by
their actions or ignorance in schools from elementary to
higher education and beyond.

Why become a writer from Chinua Achebe….

  1. You have an overpowering edge 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.

Chinua Achebe Interview on YouTube

10 Books that will elevate your child’s mind

Collection of African American Books To Learn about the Legacies

Are Things Falling Apart in the African American Community


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