how things fell apart


On November 16, 1930, in Nnobi, near my hometown of Ogidi, providence ushered me into a world at a cultural crossroads. By then, a longstanding clash of Western and African civilizations had generated deep conversations and struggles between their respective languages, religions, and cultures. Crossroads possess a certain dangerous potency. Anyone born there must wrestle with their multiheaded spirits and return to his or her people with the boon of prophetic vision; or accept, as I have, life’s interminable mysteries. My initiation into the complicated world of Ndi Igbo was at the hands of my mother and my older sister, Zinobia, who furnished me with a number of wonderful stories from our ancient Igbo tradition. The tales were steeped in intrigue, spiced with oral acrobatics and song, but always resolute in their moral message. My favorite stories starred the tortoise mbe, and celebrated his mischievous escapades.

more from Chinua Achebe at Guernica here.