One of the best-known figures in African literature will be giving a public lecture at the University of Cambridge this November.
Chinua Achebe, who is the author of five novels including the groundbreaking book, Things Fall Apart, will give the first in an annual series of lectures in honour of the Cambridge anthropologist, Dr. Audrey Richards, who established the University’s Centre of African Studies.
The event will take place on Friday 19 November at the Faculty of Law. Professor Achebe will read from his autobiographical book on the Nigeria-Biafra War, which is due to be published next year.
Now resident in the US, Achebe lived through the turbulent period in which Nigeria emerged as an independent state. His books were some of the first works of African literature to receive international acclaim.
Things Fall Apart, his most famous novel, has sold 50 million copies in the English language alone. First published in 1958, it remains a literary landmark.
Achebe is currently Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University in the US. An inspirational character whose work has also provoked controversy, he remains a central figure in African literature.
Dr. Richards, who the new lecture series honours, conducted extensive research in sub-Saharan Africa. Her scholarship described and analysed the daily political and economic realities of colonial Africa – the experience of hunger, the effects of labour migration and the outcome of encounters between African cultural traditions and the agents of colonial power.
She returned to Cambridge in 1965 to become one of the founding members of the African Studies Centre.
Professor Megan Vaughan, director of the Centre of African Studies, said: “We are deeply honoured that Professor Achebe has agreed to deliver the first Annual Lecture in African Studies.”
“Since its foundation, the Centre of African Studies has fostered high quality interdisciplinary research on Africa. We have always been committed to academic research on Africa that, rather than analysing the continent from afar, arises out of a close engagement with African scholars.”
“Professor Achebe is one of Africa’s leading intellectuals. His fiction and non-fiction works chart the complex history of the continent, its powerful cultural traditions, its experiences of colonialism and its political, economic and social evolution in the postcolonial period. His authoritative voice is critical and humane, direct and compassionate.”
The lecture will be held in the Faculty of Law, Room LG18, Sidgwick Site, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ on Friday 19 November 2010 at 5pm. All are welcome. The event is sponsored by the A G Leventis Foundation and Mr Hakeem Belo-Osagie.