Houston, Texas. August 13, 2008: As the world awaits the release of Prof. Chinua Achebe's latest work, a 179-page collection of seventeen autobiographical essays called Reflections of a British Protected Child, an intriguing, familiar issue: the award of the next Nobel Prize for Literature, turned a key issue at the USAfrica Harvest of Achebe international symposium in Houston, Texas.
Bernth Lindfors, the distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and African Literatures at the University of Texas at Austin and keynote speaker at the USAfrica 080808 celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Chinua Achebe's literary classic, 'Things Fall Apart' addressed the contentious issue by calling the attention of the Nobel Prize for Literature committee to what millions of people and readers continue to take exception to: its denial of the worthy honor of its highest literature prize to Achebe, one of the most gifted, celebrated and creative writers in the world.
Prof. Lindfors, leading teacher of Achebe's 'Things fall Apart' novel for 33 years, told the USAfrica conferees/scholars that this might be the time the Nobel Committee makes it up and does the right thing to the venerable Achebe. "I think his time will come. It will be a belated recognition. I remember, I was in Nairobi (Kenya) when the announcement of Wole Soyinka's Nobel Prize occurred and my colleagues at the University of Nairobi were [surprised]. They thought Achebe should have been the first one...."
Various discussions by other scholars and participants at the USAfrica Best of Africa 080808 reflected on Chinua Achebe's body of ground-breaking works, comparative outlook on culture, identity, religion, education, colonialism, post-colonialism, the issue of Achebe not being honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature, with many arguing and hoping it will happen soon.
Prof. Lindfors, founder of the journal of African literary studies, Research in African Literatures, said he felt the ongoing global celebrations and expositions of the 50th anniversary of Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart' show, in part, the universal creative reach and acceptance of the novel. Lindfors who got his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1969, outlined the worldwide celebration of 'Things Fall Apart' from Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe through North and South America by several organizations including the Modern Language Association. He commended USAfrica for championing and hosting the international exposition on Achebe's works the weekend of 080808. USAfrica has been assessed by The New York Times and other key American organizations as the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks.
The USAfrica Harvest of Achebe host/convener Chido Nwangwu declared open the event by noting that "we honor Achebe because he reflects uncommon decency and iron-clad commitment to values which uplift all cultures and heritage while confronting racist scholarship and ill-informed stereotypes. Achebe portrays the Igbo nation and by extension many parts of Africa as communities where hard work can transport you from the pits of poverty to the pinnacle of prosperity as Okonkwo's farming prowess showed, amidst all the existential contradictions and tragic twists of life, especially Okonkwo's life." Chido who serves as Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, first African-owned U.S-based professional newspaper published on the internet, stated that "in many ways, Achebe is timeless; he's ancient and modern. He carries forth his message to the world in ways which artfully find meaning and resonance across cultures, demographics, gender and all manner of platforms"
The two-day (August 8 and 9, 2008) event at the Houston Westchase Marriott Hotel featured a series of scholarly, inter-disciplinary forums on the landmark literary work 'Things Fall Apart' all-day friday and a poetryfest at night on Friday the 8th. It was followed by the 'Best of Africa' banquet on Saturday the 9th where Achebe was honored with the 1st USAfrica Lifetime Achievement award. The event, which marked the 15th anniversary of Houston-based USAfrica, featured scholars on Africa, African literature, political economy, and religion, new voices in the world of writing/literature, public policy executives, leaders in government and communities, book publishers and retailers, teachers, students and librarians, information technology specialists, dramatists and artistes.
Some of the panelists and contributors include Prof. Elias Bongmba of Rice University, Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo, Prof. Tony Afejuku of the University of Benin, Dr. Romanus Muoneke of St. Thomas University and an author of a book on Achebe, Dr. Gary Maxey of the West Africa Theological Ministries (WATS) Lagos, University of Edinburgh's Dr. Afe Adogame, Howard's Prof. Chigbo Ofong, financial management specialist Blaize Kaduru, Sylveria Ogu, a High School teacher in Houston, Nidhi Trehan of the political science department of the University College London and a practitioner in the areas of human rights and migration policy, Dr. Ben Idowu, Nigerian Foundation's Dr. Emeaba Emeaba, Mazi Eni Kanu, Kimberly Nichols of CAMAC, Atorrney James Okorafor, Dr. Darlington Ndubuike, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Okorie, Afripol's Emeka Chiakwelu, Judge Tola Oresusi, and several scholars and community leaders.
contact info: USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com & AchebeBooks.com
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