After Achebe


I do not remember Things Fall Apart as particularly life-changing at that age, I simply loved the story, this recreation of a world that seemed entirely familiar, that echoed the stories that my grandparents told. A few years later, I read No Longer at Ease, a I realised what an extraordinary gift he had given to us, creating a space for us in the world, allowing us the chance to say: We too are here. battered early edition, missing a cover, illustrated by Bruce Onobrakpeya, the famed Nigerian artist some of whose etchings hung on the walls of our living room. I was unimpressed then by the non-realistic etchings with their stylized depictions of human beings but was utterly captivated by the story of Obi Okonkwo, who could easily have stepped out of one of my parents’ photograph albums. I imagined him in a fedora hat and suit, being met at the port on his return from England by his town union, the way my parents and many of their friends had been. Along the way I also read his books for children, first Chike and the River, then the allegory of abuse of power How the Leopard Got Its Claws, co-written with John Iroaganachi and his collection of short stories Girls at War, which again resounded with familiar stories from my parents and their friends of their experiences during and just after the Biafran war.

more from Ike Anya at Granta here.