With so many works to his credit including Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, The Sacrificial Egg, Antihills of the Savannah and The Problem with Nigeria, Icheoku does not see why this writing genius has not been deemed a fit and proper person to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature; except the Swedes resent his political activism and anti-racism crusading. Icheoku remembers vividly the controversial lecture Chinua Achebe delivered in 1975 titled "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness" wherein he criticized Joseph Conrad as a bloody racist; and queries whether such outspokenness may be the albatross hounding his being considered for this recognition by the Conrads of this world at Stockholm's Nobel Prize Academy. Our plea, let Professor Albert Chinuanulumogu Achebe receive his Nobel Prize for Literature now, 2011 that is; so that he can celebrate while he is still alive since an 80 year old man does not have much time any longer but merely lives on borrowed times. It is the right thing to do, the correct thing to do and to deny him this award is wrong and unjust.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
CHINUA ACHEBE, HAUNTED BY AN EVER ELUSIVE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE!
At 80 plus years old and still counting, with several literary works of fiction, including one world-famous and globally read classics of all times, 'Things Fall Apart', to his credit, Professor Chinua Achebe of Nigeria is still hopeful; waiting anxiously for the ever elusive Nobel Prize for Literature award. Regrettably, Stockholm has not dialed his number just yet and the 2010 opportunity came but also eluded him and for the umpteenth time. Unfortunately, Professor Chinua Achebe is watching his dream of winning the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature gradually evaporate before his own eyes and in his lifetime; and this must surely make him one less of a happy and fulfilled man.
Year after year, it is with great expectation, excitement and anticipation laced with melancholy, of what have become a purposeful neglect of his literary prowess and accomplishment, that his family and friends world-over, had hoped that at last his moment had come. That finally the world through Stockholm will recognize his many works and accordingly honor him with that cherished Nobel Prize for Literature. But as each year passed by, with it went millions of dashed hopes of admirers waiting to see their literary hero rightfully honored. For inexplicable and unfathomable reasons/excuses, Professor Chinua Achebe is always red-flagged and denied the privilege of this award. In this fog of no-reason or lack of any meaningful one whatsoever, justifying the refusal and/or denial to honor Achebe with a Nobel Prize, Icheoku had figured out what the root cause might be - the associated politics of the selection process of the Nobel Prize Committee in Stockholm Denmark. Icheoku says, it is because Chinua Achebe's writing is considered politically too hot to handle and somewhat very radioactive that he has not been accorded that singular honor and time is no longer on his side. However, the army of Chinua Achebe's friends and family will take particular exception with the Nobel Prize Committee in the future event they ever posthumously award the honor to Achebe long after he passes away. Icheoku hereby call on the 'wise-men and women' of Stockholm Nobel Academy to stop forthwith the playing of politics with honoring Chinua Achebe with a Nobel Prize for Literature. Achebe has earned and rightfully merited to be so honored; his literary exploits speaks volume as to the preeminence qualification of this literally giant and son of Africa for this award and Icheoku calls on the Nobel Academy to make Chinua Achebe one happy recipient now while he is still alive. Enough of the politics, Nobel Prize Committee.
Icheoku is taking umbrage with the Nobel Prize committee for not recognizing Chinua Achebe so many years since his Nigeria contemporary Professor Wole Soyinka was rightly honored in 1986. Two decades plus later, it is still just hopes that someday Achebe's time will come and Icheoku asks when would the time of an 80 year old come if not now; except they would rather honor him posthumously? It is 2010 and a Peruvian writer Mario Varga Llosa is the year's winner and Icheoku asks the people of Stockholm Nobel Academy, when will Nigeria's Albert Chinualumogu Achebe receive his own Nobel Prize for Literature, especially for his 'Things Fall Apart?" Or is it a case of the Falcon which still is unable to hear the Falconer, that the Nobel Prize Committee is playing deaf to this great expectation and clarion call for them to honor a man whose time has since come to be so honored as a Nobel Laurette. Icheoku is talking about Nigeria's Chinua Achebe and states that he has earned the privilege of becoming a Nobel Laurette for Literature for his works, particularly Things Fall Apart. Further, Icheoku says, except there are some other mundane and sentimental/subjective considerations other than pure meritocracy, which is beclouding the sense of judgment of the Nobel Academy selection committee, there is no reason why Chinua Achebe should not have been honored with a Nobel Prize for Literature. In his Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe wrote a parity about the colonial Europe and their religion, with which they forayed into Africa and caused so much friction; and drove a knife through the body-fabric of a society that was previously homogeneously water-tight. The question no one has attempted to answer is whether Europe liked this their being put on the spot and being held responsible for fractious Africa by Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart'. Icheoku does not think that Europeans are happy campers and we strongly believe this is one of the reasons why Chinua Achebe has not been recognized by the Nobel Academy. Like Nelson Mandela who refused to be silenced and suffered greatly for his people, Chinua Achebe is suffering because his work cast aspersion on the European colonial masters; the same people tele-guiding who received or does not receive the award. Further it would appear also that Chinua Achebe does not have enough lobbyists working the Nobel Academy committee on his behalf; but hey if the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo could win the Nobel Prize sitting in a prison, who then needs a lobbyist? But not when you are an African, whose works are perceived in certain quarters as somewhat "antagonistic" of the European colonial adventurism in Africa; and it is the same Europeans who decides who receives what prize. So the greatest lobbyist known to man could not have been able to make any difference in the matter of Chinua Achebe and the elusive Nobel Prize for Literature. Also does Chinua Achebe command a huge profile which the Nobel Prize Committee would want to tap into and harness; the jury is possibly still out on that issue but Icheoku strongly believes that he may need to do more to keep the media-light flashing either through interviews or press statements or even becoming somewhat more radicalized and outspoken or even controversial. Also his current affiliation with the David and Marianna Fisher University as Professor as well as Professor of African Studies at Brown University in Providence Rhode Island should be an added profile booster; assuming the Swedes are magnanimous enough to get-over the underlying militating political considerations and induct Chinua Achebe into the hall of Nobel Prize Laureates. So the Swedish Nobel Prize Academy that will like to know the mileage they can get out of an Achebe' Nobel Prize, now have it.
Like Peru's president Alan Garcia said of Vargas Llosa Nobel Prize, Icheoku says the same of Chinua Achebe, 'that the award of Nobel Prize for Literature to Chinua Achebe of Nigeria is long overdue' and hereby implore the Nobel Prize committee not to miss the next opportunity in 2011, since youth is no longer on the side of the Nigerian literary giant who is now 80 plus old. It will be a thing of great honor to right the wrong now of many years of neglect of a man whose work has been translated into over 158 languages and read throughout the world. It is a cry for remedy and Icheoku hopes the Nobel Prize Academy is not tone-deaf. Chinua Achebe is a story-teller of no mean repute and Icheoku challenges the Nobel Prize committee to tell the world how many other literary works ever, have taken man into the insides of humanity as did 'Things Fall Apart'? So what then is the grudge which they hold against Chinua Achebe not to bestow on him an honor and recognition which is since long due? Borrowing from the praise poured on Vargas Llosa by one of the committee members, Icheoku says of Chinua Achebe, "He has a number of masterpieces in narration because essentially he's a narrator, he's a storyteller. My goodness, what a storyteller Chinua Achebe is!"