RIP Chinua Achebe
“Do not despair. I know you will not despair. You have a manly and proud heart. A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride. It is difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone.” – Things Fall Apart, p21
I will probably write about and long for Ghana until the day I die. Sitting on that sand bar where the Volta River meets the Atlantic Ocean, no noise but waves and wind, I read your book, Achebe, and it made me want to write how you did, to capture the spirit of a people who will never be the same, a dying way of life on an imprisoned continent.
You filled me with wisdom from a time and place I never had the chance to know. And there were the demons too, the demons that haunted the evil forest, the ghosts of the twins left there to save the village from damnation. You brought them all out on that beach, under that baking African sun, for me to roll into a ball like banku, pick off piece by piece, and turn into my own.
If I followed that low, fine coastline, first east and then south, I’d come to your homeland. That gulf, with its green water crisscrossed by skinny fishing boats and fat oil tankers, the pivot around which Africa would turn. The Gulf of Guinea.
Your name is a time and a place to me, one of my best. Your book opened my eyes, cleared my throat, gave me reason to speak.
Chinua Achebe. May you see your grandfathers, and may they smile as they welcome you into their hut, to crack the kola nut, and tell stories of great victories, you pride of the village, pride of Africa.