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Achebe’s Last Employer, Brown University, Mourns; Plans Memorial On Late Writer’s Life

Achebe’s Last Employer, Brown University, Mourns; Plans Memorial On Late Writer’s Life

Brown University, where foremost novelist, Prof Chinua Achebe, worked until his death last night, says it would organize a memorial in honour of one of its most valuable faculty member in history.

A statement from the university described the late literary icon’s passing as an event as global significance.

Prof Achebe joined Brown in September 2009 and was its David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana Studies until his death.

And a thick layer of grief has enveloped the university with faculty members terribly devastated by news of his death.

In tribute, Brown University President, Christina Paxson said, ““The colloquia he organized at Brown attracted a grand array of guests and effectively demonstrated how the humanities can build understanding by drawing from and encouraging a variety of perspectives. We were honored to have him among us.”

Corey Walker, associate professor and chair of the Department of Africana studies, said Prof Achebe was a gift to the world and that his death was a pasing of a great life.

Walker said, “He was more than just a colleague, faculty member, and teacher at Brown. He was a gift to the world. We are very privileged to have had him with us for the last four years and even more so for allowing us to get close to him and his family.

“At a time like this we could draw many words of wisdom and comfort from the deep wells of various African cultures and traditions to honor him. The most fitting is the simple and elegant phrase, “A great tree has fallen.”

“Indeed, the passing of Chinua Achebe is an event of global significance. The entire faculty and staff in the Department of Africana Studies share in the celebration of the great life that is Chinua Achebe.”

In a moving tribute, Anani Dzidzienyo, associate professor of Africana studies and Portuguese and Brazilian studies said:

“Part of his impact was that he was always a part of Africana studies. His presence in the department affirmed our intellectual mission and strengthened our commitment and dedication to Africana studies. Indeed, his presence was powerful. When he was first appointed, a friend told me we had captured history and planted it in Churchill House.

“He brought the whole history of contemporary African writing to Brown from the time when he wrote Things Fall Apart to the present. His name symbolizes the themes and issues that characterize African societies and cultures. His presence at Brown is something we could not have imagined before it happened. He was an inspiration to us and our students. As a student remarked, “It is incredible that he is here with us.”

“In the spirit of Ghanian proverbs, and by implication African proverbs, I leave these words for contemplation: “The path crosses the river and the river crosses the path. Which came first, the path or the river?”

“May you travel well, Professor Achebe.”

Achebe’s Last Employer, Brown University, Mourns; Plans Memorial On Late Writer’s Life

Read full statement from Brown University below:

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Chinua Achebe: Writer, critic, social historian

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University learned this morning of the death of Chinua Achebe in Boston Thursday evening, March 21, 2013.

Achebe, the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana studies, joined the Brown faculty in September 2009.

Best known for his novels and essays which critique postcolonial Nigerian politics and society as well as the impact of the West on Africa, Achebe was widely acknowledged as “godfather” to a generation of African writers. His first novel, Things Fall Apart, is the most widely read work of African fiction, having sold more than 12 million copies in English alone. It has been translated into 50 languages.

Among his activities at Brown was the annual Achebe Colloquium on Africa, an international gathering of scholars, policymakers, elected officials, writers, and others with a shared interest in current-day African affairs.

“The colloquia he organized at Brown attracted a grand array of guests and effectively demonstrated how the humanities can build understanding by drawing from and encouraging a variety of perspectives,” said Brown University President Christina H. Paxson. “We were honored to have him among us.”

From Corey D.B. Walker, associate professor and chair of the Department of Africana studies:

He was more than just a colleague, faculty member, and teacher at Brown. He was a gift to the world. We are very privileged to have had him with us for the last four years and even more so for allowing us to get close to him and his family.

At a time like this we could draw many words of wisdom and comfort from the deep wells of various African cultures and traditions to honor him. The most fitting is the simple and elegant phrase, “A great tree has fallen.”

Indeed, the passing of Chinua Achebe is an event of global significance. The entire faculty and staff in the Department of Africana Studies share in the celebration of the great life that is Chinua Achebe.

From Anani Dzidzienyo, associate professor of Africana studies and Portuguese and Brazilian studies:

Part of his impact was that he was always a part of Africana studies. His presence in the department affirmed our intellectual mission and strengthened our commitment and dedication to Africana studies. Indeed, his presence was powerful. When he was first appointed, a friend told me we had captured history and planted it in Churchill House.

He brought the whole history of contemporary African writing to Brown from the time when he wrote Things Fall Apart to the present. His name symbolizes the themes and issues that characterize African societies and cultures. His presence at Brown is something we could not have imagined before it happened. He was an inspiration to us and our students. As a student remarked, “It is incredible that he is here with us.”

In the spirit of Ghanian proverbs, and by implication African proverbs, I leave these words for contemplation: “The path crosses the river and the river crosses the path. Which came first, the path or the river?”

May you travel well, Professor Achebe.

 During his time at Brown, Achebe convened four colloquia:

The University will plan an appropriate memorial in celebration of Achebe’s life and work.

Darlene Trew Crist

Director, News and Communications

Brown University

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