Statement by Senator David Coltart, Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture on the death of Chinua Achebe, Nigerian Writer.
It is with great sadness that I learned yesterday of the passing of the great African man of letters, Chinua Achebe, who has died aged 82.
Through the deceptive simplicity of his writing, the Nigerian author opened the world to the joy, beauty and dignity of Africa. Nelson Mandela has said of him that he was ‘a writer … in whose company the prison walls fell.’
For the school children in Zimbabwe who read his books as part of their studies across the years, Achebe was often the first encounter with literature from the larger African continent.
His great creation Okonkwo, from the novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ has been studied, argued over, and quoted by thousands of Zimbabwean children.
His contribution to literature extends beyond his own work because his towering influence reaches our present generation of writers who are determined to tell the African story in African voices.
Achebe was also a great advocate for true and meaningful democracy in Africa, and was unflinching in his criticism of the corruption and waste that he saw in his homeland. He was a man of great wisdom and largeness of spirit.
On behalf of the Government and people of Zimbabwe I convey our deepest sympathy to the people of Nigeria and his family.
We join with his family, his friends, and the many people around the world who loved this giant of African writing, in mourning his loss, and in celebrating his contribution to the growth of our literature.
Senator David Coltart, Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture