Prof. Chinua Achebe speaks to NYT

Courtesy Justin Ide / Harvard News Office

World-renowned Brown Professor of Africana Studies Chinua Achebe did an interview with the New York Times that ran earlier this week. Here are a few highlights:

Interviewer: As a professor at Brown University, in Providence, R.I., you yourself live in exile, as do many other Nigerian writers, including the playwright Wole Soyinka and the young novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Achebe: If you were in Nigeria and had cause to go to a hospital or to see a doctor, you would then immediately understand why so many people are abroad.

Interviewer: You’ve been wheelchair-bound since 1990, as a result of a car accident that left you paralyzed from the waist down.
Achebe: Yes. I was in Nigeria when the accident happened. I was flown to England for treatment. They tried to put me together, then they recommended that I go to America for a follow-up, and that’s why I came to America.

Interviewer: How old are you now?
Achebe: I’m approaching 80. I don’t care about age very much. I think back to the old people I knew when I was growing up, and they always seemed larger than life.

Interviewer: What do you consider the most important thing about yourself?
Achebe: Oh, the most important thing about myself is that my life has been full of changes. Therefore, when I observe the world, I don’t expect to see it just like I was seeing the fellow who lives in the next room. There is this complexity which seems to me to be part of the meaning of existence and everything we value.

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