Professor Achebe talking to a guest at the feast.

By and large, he combines an artistic virtuosity, uniquely his own, with commitments which have come to define the writer's role in the post colonial world. This felicitous fusion of artistry and social responsibility is embodied in what Achebe has frequently described as "the story". Achebe insists that "the story" of Africa must be told by Africans themselves and not by anyone else. As that symbol of indigenous African folk wisdom, the Old Man of Abazon, on page 114 of Anthills of the Savannah, says:


...it is only the story (that) can continue beyond the war and the warrior. It is the story that outlives the sound of war-drums and the exploits of brave fighters. It is the story, not the others, that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spokes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind. Does the blind man own his escort? No, neither do we the story; rather it is the story that owns us and directs us. It is the thing that makes us different from cattle; it is the mark on the face that sets one people apart from their neighbors...the story is everlasting.

It is the story that makes Achebe what he is to us, teachers and students, who read his works in a wide diversity of academic departments and programs: Africana studies, anthropology, art, poetry, comparative literature, English, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, women's studies, and even geography and earth sciences. In telling the story of Africa, Achebe has not only distinguished himself as a teacher, cultural nationalist, social activist, and re-writer of history, but as a healer, whose words and images have contributed immensely to the healing of the social wounds of racism and colonialism. As the progenitor of a whole generation of writers and intellectuals in Africa, and as a giant whose words and images have revolutionized our thinking and engendered true diversity in the global intelligentsia, there can be no doubt that when the history of world literature, devoid of eurocentric biases will come to be written, the second half of the twentieth century in Africa and the beginning of the third millennium will be remembered as the Age of Chinua Achebe.

Here is Achebe in person, to engage you in a dialogue which we hope will be as inspiring as it promises to be enlightening. This session will be moderated by my colleague from the English Department, Professor Judy Goleman. But the
Ijele cannot make its appearance without flourishes. Before I hand over the microphone to Achebe, I must give way to the flutist. Note that the flute (oja) with which he will announce the presence of Achebe is the same wind instrument for which Unoka in Things Fall Apart is well-known.

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