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Ikenga Shrines and Iron Horses

A Reader's Guide to Chinua Achebe's THINGS FALL APART

Cathy Kroll, Author

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Interviews with Achebe

From Jerry Large's interview with Achebe in 1998: 

There is a story about Achebe that I have frequently recalled over the years. He was a university student and a lover of literature who would lose himself in books, totally identifying with the hero in his conflict with savage antagonists. One day it struck Achebe that he and his people were the savages. 

He was so thoroughly schooled in the Western perspective that that fact had not always been in front of him. "I was identifying with the wrong people," he says now.

"You realize your own story is missing. You recognize that the person who is supposed to be you does not have dignity."

As a child, you just have a sense that I am missing, but as you get older, you realize something very serious and sinister had happened to eliminate you from from the story."

So, he declared, "I am here. I will tell it."

. . . 
"To be human means you must have a story. What does being people mean? It's not just that you are a primate walking on two legs. It is a desire to tell your story. It is a sense of connection to other humans."

In Achebe's books, no one is perfect, African or Westerner. "I am not interested in villains who are bad 24 hours a day or angels who are perfect 24 hours a day. I'm interested in people." 

--Jerry Large, "Telling a Different Story: Acclaimed Nigerian Writer Chinua Achebe Wants the World to Hear Africa's Stories from the Mouths of Africans." Seattle Times, May 14, 1998, pg. E 1.
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