PRINCETON University is hosting The Chinua Achebe International Symposium and 10th Anniversary Memorial Celebration at its New Jersey base, September 29-30.
Hosted by the university’s Africa World Initiative and Program in African Studies in partnership with The Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation, the symposium is also to mark “the 40th anniversary of the publication of Achebe’s blistering political treatise The Trouble with Nigeria,” stated the convener, Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu, the Robert Schirmer Professor of Art and Archaeology and African American Studies, and Director, Africa World Initiative.
The keynote speaker is Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 elections.
Professor Okeke-Agulu hinted that three panels to be staged on the opening day, September 29, will examine new directions in Achebe studies, the politics of canonicity, and African literature in the age of historical reckonings, while a roundtable discussion will focuson leadership and statecraft in Nigeria and Africa.
“The memorial celebration on September 30th will be graced by His Royal Majesty, Igwe Alex Onyido, the Monarch of Ogidi Kingdom in Nigeria, and will feature tributes by Abena Busia, Toyin Falola, Simon Gikandi, Richard Joseph, Anthonia Kalu, Sonia Sanchez, and Obiora Udechukwu; readings by Patrice Nganang and Chika Unigwe, as well as praise poetry by Udoji Achebe and Ojaadiligbo, a dance act by Dorobucci Dance Company, a solo mbira performance by Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa, and the Eme & Heteru Afro-roots Band.
Conference participants are listed as: Portia Owusu – Texas A&M University / Jeanne-Marie Jackson – Johns Hopkins University / Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang – University of Ghana / Sarah Duff – Colby College / Chielozona Eze – Carleton College / Simon Gikandi – Princeton University / Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi – NC State University / Ranka Primorac – University of Southampton / Meg Arenberg – The Africa Institute, Sharjah / Terri Ochiagha – University of Edinburgh / Simukai Chigudu – University of Oxford / Ainehi Edoro – University of Wisconsin-Madison / Mukoma wa Ngugi – Cornell University / Maik Nwosu – University of Denver-Colorado / Hannah Essien – Princeton University / Chris Abani – Northwestern University / Obi Nwakanma – University of Central Florida / Anthonia Kalu – University of California-Riverside / Wale Lawal – Editor, The Republic, Lagos / Adeleke Adeeko – The Ohio University
The Symposium Advisory Committee are: Christopher Okonkwo (Florida State University, Chair), Ato Quayson (Stanford University), Terri Ochiagha (University of Edinburgh), Grace Musila (University of the Witwatersrand).
Both events are open to the public though registration is required. Further information can be obtained via: https://africaworld.princeton.edu, or throug direct contact to [email protected]
…Achebe honoured by Bard College with a symposium
ON Friday, September 22, Bard College hosted a conference in celebration of the late eminent novelist and Nigeria’s elder-statesman, Chinua Achebe, who for years, was on the school’s faculty as Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature.
Themed After Chinua Achebe: African Writing and the Future, the symposium held in the Weis Cinema at the Bertelsmann Campus Center examined the current flowering of writing by African authors, in Africa and in the diaspora.
It was followed by the dedication of a room in the Stevenson Library at Bard in memory of Achebe.
The Achebe family was led by his wife, Professor Christie Achebe, and his son, Chidi and his sisters, Nwando and Chinelo.
Kicking off with a dance performance by Souleymane Badolo celebrating the life of Achebe, the opening address was given by the President of the school, Leon Botstein, which was followed by two-panel discussions, Writing Beyond Africa: The African imagination in the diaspora; and Activism and the Word: Writing, speech and song in African political culture.
Among the panelists were the novelists Nuruddin Farah, Teju Cole, Dinaw Mengestu and Fatin Abbas, and DJ Switch, the Nigerian social activist who gained prominence with her frontline role in the #EndSARS episode in Lagos.
In a statement, Achebe’s son, Chidi, wrote: “The Achebe family thanks Bard College, President Botstein, VP Malia Du Mont, and all the organizers for such a fantastic outing that also included a brilliant dance ensemble from Burkina Faso, an unveiling of a plaque in the Stevenson library, and dinner at the President’s house.”
He also specially Penguin Press and Penguin Classics “for their support by providing copies of The African Trilogy.”
And concluded, “Dad would have been pleased.”
On Achebe’s profile, Bard College wrote: “Chinua Achebe was a groundbreaking Nigerian writer best known for his first and most influential novel, Things Fall Apart. He wrote numerous other books, including works of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and children’s books. Professor Achebe received more than 30 honorary degrees, as well as many awards for his work. From 1990 to 2009 he was the Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. “