Unintelligent and Unexposed: Nigerian Writers Defend Achebe's Things Fall Apart
, August 19, 2016
A controversial Nigerian writer, Onyeka Nwelue has been trending on social media for saying “Achebe’s writing of Things Fall Apart at that age was not intelligent; he was not exposed.”
He made this comment in an interview, published by Premium Times, yesterday.
“If you’ve read Things Fall Apart and have read what young people write these days – people like Helen Oyeyemi, Diekoye Oyeyinka, and Chigoize Obioma – you would know that Achebe’s writing of Things Fall Apart at that age was not intelligent; he was not exposed,” Nwelue said.
“I will still stand by what I said. I won’t change it,” He insisted. “Achebe’s own even gets worse every day when people mention his name. I think Things Fall Apart should be buried and never made to resurrect. Yes, Anthills of the Savannah is a very beautiful book; it’s well written. But I don’t agree with Things Fall Apart being called the great African novel by everybody. There are better books.”
The 28-year-old graduate of Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka has published three books: The Abyssinian Boy, Burnt, and Hip Hop Is Only For Children. Nwelue who currently lives in Paris, France described himself as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Manipur, India and visiting lecturer at the University of Hong Kong.
Things Fall Apart is a post-colonial novel written by late Professor Achebe in 1958. The novel is one of the first African novels to receive global critical acclaim and it is widely read around the world. It has also been translated into about 50 languages. The novel has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide. Things Fall Apart is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English.
A Nigerian literary critic, Ikhide Ikheloa who is based in the United States of America, said on his Facebook that “This is perhaps the most hilarious – and outrageous interview I have ever read.
“To imply that Achebe was an ordinary writer beneath contempt,” Ikheloa wrote in another Facebook post, adding that “to blame Achebe for our contemporary Writers’ narcissism is disingenuous and silly.”
A poet and writer, Ikeogu Oke said “Just like you cannot enter heaven by the door of blasphemy, you cannot achieve fame by saying Things Fall Apart is not a great book”
A young writer, Saddiq M Dzukogi also wrote on his Facebook that “I am almost 30. 3 years almost, though. I haven’t written a classic yet. If I cross 30 without a classic, I will consider myself a failure. Damn it, Achebe did it at 28.”
Dike Chukwumerije, a writer and the Coordinator of Abuja Literary Society wrote, “Saying Achebe, did not write the best African novel is like saying the Wright brothers did not build the best aeroplane.”
Other Nigerians who are commenting on Facebook have expressed displeasure over what Nwelue said about Achebe and the Things Fall Apart, questioning his mental state in exhibiting such level of contempt on Achebe.
However, a woman who claimed to be Nwelue’s manager, Debbie Edwards, has been resilient in defending him on Facebook. The woman who claimed to be in her late 40s said, “You all mistaken Onyeka for someone who gives a rat ass what any of you think. But he does love being talked about. “