Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 26th 2016 Contents B29
Thursday, May 26, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
From Page B28
This is an excerpt from Akasha O'Brien's winning
essay in the Great Africans in History competition. The
Guaico Secondary student paid tribute to the late
Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe.
People of the African Diaspora have been continually
brainwashed to believe that they are an inferior race.
The shackles of slavery continue to imprison us because
after so many years of the abolishment of slavery we
still deem ourselves as inferior because we were
socialised into believing so.
We were humiliated during slavery, so much so that
many of us feel dehumanised, which causes our innate
human element to be absent or arguably taken away.
Slavery has negatively impacted on the African image
making us lose our identity. Hence, we tend to get
ourselves in all negative aspects of society. I am remind-
ed daily by a very special person that maintaining my
"Africaness" is an integral key to me being successful
and replanting African pride.
Chinua Achebe, originally named Albert Chinualu-
mogu Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, short story
writer, poet, editor and author of children s literature.
He was a proud Nigerian/African individual who still
remains revered for his vast literary knowledge. lt is
quite impressive that his very first novel Things Fall
Apart sold over eight million copies worldwide and
has an increasingly growing readership.
This is indeed inspirational and undoubtedly his
African/Nigerian people are proud of him. He is widely
known as "the father of the
African novel in English."
Achebe is one of the most
significant writers to emerge
from contemporary Africa
with a literary vision that
has profoundly influenced
the form and content of
modern African literature.
He was born in Ogidi, Nige-
ria; Achebe attended
Church Mission Society
School, where his lgbo par-
ents were catechists. Chinua
Achebe grew up in a community divided between two
cultures, African and European. Although he and his
family lived in the village of Ogidi, surrounded by the
lbo culture and traditions by their ancestors, Achebe s
parents were Christians and embraced many elements
of the Western culture. Chinua remembers that the
Christians in his community looked down upon people
who maintained their African religion and culture and
vice versa. When Chinua spoke of these catastrophes
it underscored the very fact that those same issues in
his society then, (even after we were freed from slavery)
continue to permeate and haunt our society today.
We need to make our own decisions and rule ourselves;
but need to stop discriminating each other religiously
and especially on lines of ethnicity.
We need to question ourselves, How stupid is dis-
crimination? How stupid is discriminating based on
appearance and skin tone and hair texture? How stupid
of us African people to discriminate against our own
black people when we are of the same heritage? How
Chinua Achebe s parents intended that he live a
Western lifestyle; they named him Albert and sent
him to western-style schools. However, when Achebe
went away to college and began to understand the
violent past and difficult relationships between Africa
and Europe, he changed his name and dedicated himself
to African heritage.
Again, simple steps that Chinua took in standing
up for Africans and protecting our heritage, we too
can take simple steps and persuade each other, whether
a student, someone of authority or someone that
believes in our "Africaness" but is too afraid, to stand
up against the issues that encourage hate for each
other. As a race of people, understanding and appre-
ciating ourselves are the only elements that will create
love and unity among us.
As a literature student and of mixed culture and
ethnicity, I too just like Chinua Achebe devoted myself
to my African culture entirely. We, Africans are the
foundation of the people in the world. While I am
absolutely, without a doubt interested in, devoted to
and proud of my African ancestry, I greatly admire
the "Father of the African novel in English", Chinua
Reading his work and about his life and all the
positive inspirations he has given to not only the people
of the African Diaspora; but also to the people of the
world, has inspired me to also take it upon myself to
do the same.
Tribute to Chinua Achebe
Akasha O'Brien receives
her first-place prize
from Garth Nicholas.
While I am
a doubt interested
in, devoted to and
proud of my
African ancestry, I
greatly admire the
"Father of the
African novel in
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