R.I.P. Chinua Achebe 1930 – 2013

Chinua Achebe, about 1960. Eliot Elisofon—Time Life Pictures/Getty Images


(Reuters) – Nigerian novelist and poet Chinua Achebe, widely seen as a grandfather of modern African literature, has died at the age of 82, publisher Penguin said on Friday.

Achebe made his name more than 50 years ago with his novel “Things Fall Apart,” about his Igbo ethnic group’s fatal brush with British colonialism in the 1800s. It was the first time the story of European colonialism had been told from an African perspective to an international audience.

A spokeswoman for his publisher, Penguin, confirmed his death but had few other details. She said the family would be releasing a statement shortly.

Achebe’s early work focused on the social upheavals caused by colonialism in Africa. “Things Fall Apart” was translated into 50 languages and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. He later turned his sights on the devastation wrought to Nigeria and Africa by a series of military coups that entrenched kleptocratic dictatorship.

(L-R) John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo; Chinua Achebe (center) and Wole Soyinka – after meeting with former Nigerian Dictator Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) to plead for the lives of the poet General Mamman Jiya Vatsa and sixteen other officers for staging what has since come to be known as a phantom coup March, 1986