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The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays

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From the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart and winner of the Man Booker International Prize comes a new collection of autobiographical essays—his first new book in more than twenty years. Chinua Achebe’s characteristically measured and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces. In a preface, he discusses his historic visit to From the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart and winner of the Man Booker International Prize comes a new collection of autobiographical essays—his first new book in more than twenty years. Chinua Achebe’s characteristically measured and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces. In a preface, he discusses his historic visit to his Nigerian homeland on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Things Fall Apart, the story of his tragic car accident nearly twenty years ago, and the potent symbolism of President Obama’s election. In “The Education of a British-Protected Child,†Achebe gives us a vivid portrait of growing up in colonial Nigeria and inhabiting its “middle ground,†recalling both his happy memories of reading novels in secondary school and the harsher truths of colonial rule. In “Spelling Our Proper Name,†Achebe considers the African-American diaspora, meeting and reading Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, and learning what it means not to know “from whence he came.†The complex politics and history of Africa figure in “What Is Nigeria to Me?,†“Africa’s Tarnished Name,†and “Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature.†And Achebe’s extraordinary family life comes into view in “My Dad and Me†and “My Daughters,†where we observe the effect of Christian missionaries on his father and witness the culture shock of raising “brown†children in America. Charmingly personal, intellectually disciplined, and steadfastly wise, The Education of a British-Protected Child is an indispensable addition to the remarkable Achebe oeuvre.


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From the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart and winner of the Man Booker International Prize comes a new collection of autobiographical essays—his first new book in more than twenty years. Chinua Achebe’s characteristically measured and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces. In a preface, he discusses his historic visit to From the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart and winner of the Man Booker International Prize comes a new collection of autobiographical essays—his first new book in more than twenty years. Chinua Achebe’s characteristically measured and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces. In a preface, he discusses his historic visit to his Nigerian homeland on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Things Fall Apart, the story of his tragic car accident nearly twenty years ago, and the potent symbolism of President Obama’s election. In “The Education of a British-Protected Child,†Achebe gives us a vivid portrait of growing up in colonial Nigeria and inhabiting its “middle ground,†recalling both his happy memories of reading novels in secondary school and the harsher truths of colonial rule. In “Spelling Our Proper Name,†Achebe considers the African-American diaspora, meeting and reading Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, and learning what it means not to know “from whence he came.†The complex politics and history of Africa figure in “What Is Nigeria to Me?,†“Africa’s Tarnished Name,†and “Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature.†And Achebe’s extraordinary family life comes into view in “My Dad and Me†and “My Daughters,†where we observe the effect of Christian missionaries on his father and witness the culture shock of raising “brown†children in America. Charmingly personal, intellectually disciplined, and steadfastly wise, The Education of a British-Protected Child is an indispensable addition to the remarkable Achebe oeuvre.

30 review for The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Chinua Achebe is one of my favourite authors of all times. His novels, short stories, poems, essays and political statements join together to show a personality formed by many disparate cultural backgrounds, yet strong and full of personal integrity. He has opinions, and he expresses them clearly: I like that. He is not always modest, and he admits it. He has a sense of irony and humour, but he takes humanity seriously enough to suffer at injustice. His common sense does not prevent him from cel Chinua Achebe is one of my favourite authors of all times. His novels, short stories, poems, essays and political statements join together to show a personality formed by many disparate cultural backgrounds, yet strong and full of personal integrity. He has opinions, and he expresses them clearly: I like that. He is not always modest, and he admits it. He has a sense of irony and humour, but he takes humanity seriously enough to suffer at injustice. His common sense does not prevent him from celebrating ancient local traditions. His erudition and literary scholarship do not get in the way of his down-to-earth fictional writing. This essay collection offers a wide range of different topics that are close to Chinua Achebe's heart, and that follow his writing throughout all genres: We meet him embarking on studies at Cambridge, reflecting on power and politics in Africa, on language, literature as a form of celebration, we share his anguished reflections on what it means to him to be a Nigerian, and we even get a glimpse of his family life. "Being a Nigerian is abysmally frustrating and unbelievably exciting." That statement made my head spin, as I started to reflect on what being Swedish might possibly mean to me. Like Chinua Achebe, I have spent a big portion of my life outside my native country, and therefore, I see it with partially foreign eyes. "Being a Swede is abysmally frustrating and unbelievably boring." I do not envy Chinua Achebe the horrible recent history of his country, as expressed eloquently and with passion in his fiction and in There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, but sometimes I wish we had not lost so much of our political reflective power and care due to lack of conflict. The shallowness of a nation can be choking at times, as it is the first sign of stagnation. If Nigeria has a too bad reputation, Sweden's reputation on the other hand is too good. Neither is likely to be true. When Chinua Achebe criticises other authors because he does not share their ideas, he does so with respect, and for a well-defined purpose. When Ngugi (another African writer I admire, for very different reasons) criticises his use of the colonial language (English) rather than his native tongue, Chinua Achebe answers by quoting Milan Kundera to justify his own choice: "This does not in any way close the argument for the development of African languages by the intervention of writers and governments. But we do not have to falsify our history in the process. That would be playing politics. The words of the Czech novelist Kundera should ring in our ears: Those who seek power passionately do so not to change the present or the future, but the past - to rewrite history." The most hopeful and pleasing essay in this collection however, is an essay celebrating the wider meaning of literature in Chinua Achebe's community: Mbari. After first reading about it, I introduced the concept to my students, as I have long thought that the Western approach to literature has become very specialised, almost sterile, a kind of exercise in intellectual bullshit bingo (oh, sorry!) and a standardised prompt for graded essays in school. My own concept of reading to live and living to read does not quite fit that idea, even though I recognise that I take part in this tradition - I do not want to rewrite history here! Mbari, the literature celebration Achebe describes, goes deeper towards the mythical roots of storytelling as a communal act, an act of social gathering and sharing. "Mbari was a celebration, through art, of the world and the life lived in it. It was performed by the community on command by its presiding deity, usually the earth goddess, Ala or Ana. Ala combined two formidable roles in the Igbo pantheon as fountain of creativity in the world and custodian of the moral order in human society." This makes total sense to me, and explains in a creative, imaginative way why I keep reading excessively, in all genres: serious and hilarious books, nonfiction, novels, drama and poems: it is a celebration of human community, a call for creative power and social commitment, a vital dialogue, and a path to deeper understanding of, and therefore compassion for, the diversity of our shared heritage. Mbari is celebrated whenever we talk about books on GR.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    "Who is Chinua Achebe?"the boy asks when he sees me reading. He's the writer who made people notice African novels . They call him the patriarch of African Literature. "Ohhh. Is this your favorite book?" No, but this one is. I read it when I was your age. I reach for Things Fall Apart from my shelf and hand it to him. He's here for an hour or two, with his sister, the kids another single-mother-friend has sent to hang out in my library until she gets home from the second job. His dad died in the s "Who is Chinua Achebe?"the boy asks when he sees me reading. He's the writer who made people notice African novels . They call him the patriarch of African Literature. "Ohhh. Is this your favorite book?" No, but this one is. I read it when I was your age. I reach for Things Fall Apart from my shelf and hand it to him. He's here for an hour or two, with his sister, the kids another single-mother-friend has sent to hang out in my library until she gets home from the second job. His dad died in the same war I survived. I feel some responsibility for him. He opens the book, his younger sister finishes her Math homework, I place lamb in the oven and continue reading. Achebe lost the use of his legs during a car accident (sometime during the late 90s or early 2000s? the years are conflicting in a couple of essays) and I find myself with the thought, the visual in the back of my mind as I read. His wife left her job as a college instructor to take care of him. The man survived the Biafra War, only to lose his legs to an accident. This disturbs me. I know I shouldn't concentrate on the fact, still, it bugs me, so I place the book on the counter and go off to chop some green peppers and onions. Chinua Achebe posed for the New Yorker after his accident The Education of a British-Protected Child is an eloquent, erudite collection of essays that make the effects of colonialism palpable. Achebe didn't consider this an academic collection, in fact he stresses the point that he is straying from academic speak since he is a novelist at heart, and yet these pieces sometimes take on the texture of a impassioned lecture. What makes the collection appealing is its nuanced look at the mental and physical concept that is colonialism. Achebe visits the thoughts of black Africans and Americans, even infusing James Baldwin's thoughts at a conference they'd attended in Florida, when Baldwin called him "my brother." He writes of Langston Hughes offering him a seat of honor next to him, at the opera, while Achebe was still an apprentice writer. He debunks the theory that Africans write in European languages as "ignorant and meaningless comparisons," and instead presents the theory of "linguistic pluralism" that stems from the rich history of Africa. I'm engrossed in all of this when the boy asks another question. "What is palm-wine?" I hesitate. It's something sour and bitter. He snickers, unconvinced. "Okonkwo is stubborn. But he's brave." I nod and try not to say more, a method I used with former students. I want them to formulate their own thoughts and I help guide them, but not before the act of intellectual conception. We continue reading quietly. Achebe mentions Dom Afonso, king of the kingdom of Bukongo (1506-1543), whose kingdom was destroyed by Portuguese colonists. That country (now Democratic Republic of Congo), has known many names, seen many wars. Before this, it had been a thriving kingdom with embassies in Lisbon and Rome. Achebe's point is that sometimes the history books do not contain most of what was Africa before Europeans arrived. His point is that it is not "necessary for black people to invent a great fictitious past in order to justify their human existence and dignity" but that they must "recover it" by becoming researchers and writers. What better time to hear these words, than during Black History Month? A younger Achebe, in 1960, with two editions of his masterpiece An hour later, the phone rings. "Girl, thanks so much. I'm on my way." He looks up. "Please tell my mom I need more time," he says. How bout you pick them up after the grocery run? "He giving you a hard time? Tell him I'll be there when I get there and he better be ready." He's reading. "He's whaaaat?…" "Okonkwo is having a palaver right now and I want to finish that part," he yells from the library. "Okon- who is this Okon whatever. And he's having a whaaaat?"

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    The Good: --2 reoccurring themes in this collection of short essays: 1) African history written by colonizers vs. by Africans: always enjoy Achebe bringing up Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness) only to bury him again, as reviewed in Africa's Tarnished Name. 2) Countering Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature on the use of the colonizer’s tongue (English in this case) in African literature: Achebe defends his use of English because of its widespread usage in a Nigeria The Good: --2 reoccurring themes in this collection of short essays: 1) African history written by colonizers vs. by Africans: always enjoy Achebe bringing up Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness) only to bury him again, as reviewed in Africa's Tarnished Name. 2) Countering Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature on the use of the colonizer’s tongue (English in this case) in African literature: Achebe defends his use of English because of its widespread usage in a Nigeria still divided by many African languages and post-colonial conflict. Achebe also uses the analogy of the tradition of celebration that serves as recognition/acknowledgement rather than welcoming. The Questionable: --I spend most of my time in political economy. Literary theory is not my thing, and often I resort to different standards for assessing the politics of literary artists because of their lack of engagement with the structures of political economy. --Thus, the essay “The University and the Leadership Factor in Nigerian Politics” proved exceptionally insightful; Achebe considers 3 factors of change: 1) System (i.e. political economy) 2) Leadership (Achebe's focus) 3) The People --Achebe sets up Marxist C.L.R. James as prioritizing the “system”, where James contends that during the Great Depression the US had two options: reformist FDR or radical Paul Robeson. By taking the road to reform the capitalist system, arriving at Watergate was inevitable regardless of the leadership. --Achebe’s counter to this, I regret to say, sounds like liberal backwash. He first says FDR reforms like the FDIC were pretty radical at the time (well, the context of the Great Depression threatening global capitalism was pretty radical too). Even worse, he pulls the “well, name a better system with no issues” card! Literally: "And he would have to demonstrate, not merely through intellectual abstractions, but by pointing to an actual system in practice somewhere, which can show better results and no scandals of one form or another." ...Yikes. --Achebe’s defense of prioritizing “leadership” is also shaky. Instead of diving into the debates on strategy/vanguard party/horizontal consensus/participatory readiness of the people, Achebe uses the strange example of special forces in the army hierarchy to start a defense of meritocracy...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Achebe is a skillful writer, which makes these essays a delight to read. His view that Nigeria is not a mother- or fatherland, but rather a child that needs its citizens to raise it was particularly striking. He makes cogent points about the toxic legacy of colonialism, which I think is especially obvious in the way some aid organizations want(ed) to impose fixes, rather than participate in finding solutions. On a technically picky note, the LOC wants to catalogue this in 823.914, which is Englis Achebe is a skillful writer, which makes these essays a delight to read. His view that Nigeria is not a mother- or fatherland, but rather a child that needs its citizens to raise it was particularly striking. He makes cogent points about the toxic legacy of colonialism, which I think is especially obvious in the way some aid organizations want(ed) to impose fixes, rather than participate in finding solutions. On a technically picky note, the LOC wants to catalogue this in 823.914, which is English fiction (English as in British--American fiction would be 813). Not only is this not fiction, I fail to see that writing it in English makes the work essentially less African, but the DDC, itself a clumsy Victorian legacy-piece cluttered with outmoded ideas, wouldn't consider putting the work with African literature unless it had been written in Igbo (896.332). This is screamingly ironic in light of "Politics and Politicans of Language in African Literature" (p. 96) It turns out that to the LOC, Achebe is still a British-Protected Person!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lynecia

    Defines, Decodes and DEFIES the language, mythos and ethos of colonialism. I've read so many of Achebe's non-fiction work in quick succession, and as a result, not only am I quite charmed (he seemed to be such a charismatic person), I've received an education that has sharpened my mind and further deepened my love and appreciation for Chinua Achebe's work, but for African/diasporic literature in general. I never really understood what writing as resistance really meant - after all, I came up in a Defines, Decodes and DEFIES the language, mythos and ethos of colonialism. I've read so many of Achebe's non-fiction work in quick succession, and as a result, not only am I quite charmed (he seemed to be such a charismatic person), I've received an education that has sharpened my mind and further deepened my love and appreciation for Chinua Achebe's work, but for African/diasporic literature in general. I never really understood what writing as resistance really meant - after all, I came up in a time where so many amazing writers had laid this wonderful foundation for me - a canon of our own, so to speak. However, to be of a generation of the "dispossessed" as Achebe calls it, who for generations had their stories co-opted, grossly defined and used as tools against them in their own oppression-- well, to write against that, against ones dispossessors (and ones own folk too. He spoke truth to power! It almost got him killed) and tell your story for yourself -- that is resistance. Literature indeed is revolutionary. We were lucky to have Chinua Achebe as one of its wielders, its upholders of the power of storytelling, a global treasure.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hani

    This book is a great detox for all the colonial propaganda that one hears! It is a must read for understanding the language of colonialism. Nevertheless, Chinua Achebe is a great writer and a man of determined and stubborn stance! He will never move aside whenever the subject of colonialism comes and he will give a scathing and deriding reminder to the coloniser of his atrocities! He is critical of Conrad and points out his shameful remarks clearly. This book is also about Africa and Africans. T This book is a great detox for all the colonial propaganda that one hears! It is a must read for understanding the language of colonialism. Nevertheless, Chinua Achebe is a great writer and a man of determined and stubborn stance! He will never move aside whenever the subject of colonialism comes and he will give a scathing and deriding reminder to the coloniser of his atrocities! He is critical of Conrad and points out his shameful remarks clearly. This book is also about Africa and Africans. Their sufferings from outsiders and their own corruption, all in the same book. This book will teach you, no doubt, but it will also make you think and know about an Africa that 'is'! I am from South Asia and this book enlightened me to colonialism and it's global tyrannies! One chapter that was of particular interest to me was "Politics and politicians of language in African literature"! This is a must read for those who have an argument of English as being the language of the coloniser and its usage in the contemporary nation-state as a national/ state language.

  7. 5 out of 5

    KenyanBibliophile

    Non fiction is a bit difficult for me to get into but I must say that from all the Chinua Achebe titles that I've read, this collection of essays was the most enjoyable. It reads like a conversation with a very insightful, witty and passionate man. It becomes very clear within a few pages that Achebe was very opinionated and had no qualms expressing those opinions. I have laughed out loud and sworn indignantly on many occasions, sometimes in the same paragraph ln conclusion, this is a potent piec Non fiction is a bit difficult for me to get into but I must say that from all the Chinua Achebe titles that I've read, this collection of essays was the most enjoyable. It reads like a conversation with a very insightful, witty and passionate man. It becomes very clear within a few pages that Achebe was very opinionated and had no qualms expressing those opinions. I have laughed out loud and sworn indignantly on many occasions, sometimes in the same paragraph ln conclusion, this is a potent piece of literature and one of my top reads of the year. Highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about African traditional culture and finding it's identity during modern independence.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tumelo Moleleki

    I have, through this collection, become aware of the debts of inhumanity the white person has gone to to nullify my humanity. Reading that is not only educational but crucial to every African.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aisha (thatothernigeriangirl)

    The Education of a British-Protected Child is a collection of 16 essays that Achebe wrote and delivered during his lifetime and the first thing I took away from this collection is that Achebe had RANGE!!! He wrote like an African elder (rightfully so) by imbibing lots of adages and relatable/everyday examples to drive home his points. Although each essay was delivered at different events/ instances, you can pick out similar themes: one, Achebe was in a love-hate relationship with Nigeria ( he was The Education of a British-Protected Child is a collection of 16 essays that Achebe wrote and delivered during his lifetime and the first thing I took away from this collection is that Achebe had RANGE!!! He wrote like an African elder (rightfully so) by imbibing lots of adages and relatable/everyday examples to drive home his points. Although each essay was delivered at different events/ instances, you can pick out similar themes: one, Achebe was in a love-hate relationship with Nigeria ( he was its biggest cheerleader and critic); two, Achebe embodied Igbo/Nigerian/African pride in his life and writings; three, Achebe really REALLY disliked Joseph Conrad (largely because Conrad was the quintessence of how the typical problematic white man saw Africa). Achebe also brought a lot of receipts in these essays. He didn’t shoot down biases and racism with mere sentiments, instead, he used their own words, people and history books, again, to thoroughly drive home his points. That’s another additional lesson I learnt from this book— to unlearn a lot of biases ingrained in the African history written by the white man. One account that stood out to me in “Spelling Our Proper Names” and “Africa is People”, is one found in the Portuguese history where a Bukongo king, Dom Afonso, who learnt to speak and write Portuguese in a very short period and forged an alliance with King John III of Portugal. King Afonso then used these tools to try and stop the kidnapping and enslavement of his people by Portuguese sailor. I was shocked when I read this because for the longest time, all we’ve read in books is how “greedy Africans” sold their own people into slavery and this narrative continues to drive a wedge between Africans and the diaspora. It is a classic case of blaming the victim for their victimization. If a remarkable king like Afonso strove to prevent the enslavement of his people, imagine how many other leaders across the continent did the same. I highly — with emphasis— recommend this collection, especially if you’re African. May I just reiterate that Achebe really dragged Conrad for writing his ridiculous novel, Heart of Darkness?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pghbekka

    When I borrowed this collection as an audiobook, I expected a collection of autobiographical essays about Chinua Achebe's childhood. This was so much more than that. Should be required reading in courses on American history, world history, economics. As usual, words fail me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rhoda (Lala)

    Chinua Achebe had the ability to discuss complex subjects with so much clarity. This was displayed in his essay collection, The Education of a British-Protected Child. I have deep appreciation for this collection because he spoke truth to power addressing political issues - amongst other subjects - despite living in an time when freedom of speech was a myth. In 17 personal essays, he passionately takes us through his thoughts and experiences around racism, identity, the legacy of colonisation an Chinua Achebe had the ability to discuss complex subjects with so much clarity. This was displayed in his essay collection, The Education of a British-Protected Child. I have deep appreciation for this collection because he spoke truth to power addressing political issues - amongst other subjects - despite living in an time when freedom of speech was a myth. In 17 personal essays, he passionately takes us through his thoughts and experiences around racism, identity, the legacy of colonisation and imperialism. His deep understanding of his Igbo heritage is on full display through his use of traditional philosophies like Mbari. A dominant subject in this collection and one he never shied away from is colonisation. He discusses critically how the “project” contributed to the deliberately skewed image of Africa. The central drive to ridicule the claim that Africa was this far off uncharted territory with no history was glaring in his easy “Africa’s Tarnished Name”. I see much of Achebe’s thoughts on today’s mainstream topics; the legacy of colonisation, Africans controlling their narrative, diaspora relations with Africa, identity and language politics. Overall, this is a brilliant thought provoking collection filled with gems, intellectual drag (Joseph Conrad was dragged for filth) sprinkled with humour. Definitely worth your time!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    I had forgotten how much I like short, personal essays until I picked up this book while browsing the shelf. I've not read anything by Chinua Achebe, I barely recognized his name although I now realize he's a very good & very celebrated author. Many of the essays in this book refer, at least briefly, to his childhood, education, and early career in Nigeria. He left the country during its civil war and has spent much of his time since on university faculties in the United States. "British-Protec I had forgotten how much I like short, personal essays until I picked up this book while browsing the shelf. I've not read anything by Chinua Achebe, I barely recognized his name although I now realize he's a very good & very celebrated author. Many of the essays in this book refer, at least briefly, to his childhood, education, and early career in Nigeria. He left the country during its civil war and has spent much of his time since on university faculties in the United States. "British-Protected" refers to his passport status, when Nigeria was still a British colony. Will look for more books by this author.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wamuyu Thoithi

    Many of the essays read as short stories, while subtly unpacking heavy subjects like the use of the English language in African literature, the Biafra war, the dehumanization of Africans by Europeans (incl Achebe’s arch nemesis, Joseph Conrad), colonization, Igbo culture etc. A wonderful light read that should be on the shelves of all lovers of Africa.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lady Jaye

    More than any of his other works, for me, this collection of essays is the definitive Achebe. Every single one of the essays resonates with me. Loudly and clearly. In them he masterfully explores what it means to be an African in this big wide world, what it means to once again learn "to spell our proper name." He touches on issues of history, of agency, colonialism, and humanity that affect our identity as Africans, people of color, as human beings. He speaks on perception, self-image, and our p More than any of his other works, for me, this collection of essays is the definitive Achebe. Every single one of the essays resonates with me. Loudly and clearly. In them he masterfully explores what it means to be an African in this big wide world, what it means to once again learn "to spell our proper name." He touches on issues of history, of agency, colonialism, and humanity that affect our identity as Africans, people of color, as human beings. He speaks on perception, self-image, and our place in general in this world. Love it. Love it. Love. It. From the essays describing growing up in colonial Nigeria and what it meant, to speaking of Joseph Conrad and the awful racism in Heart of Darkness (not enough yes's for that), to speaking about what it means to be human, and to disagreeing with Ngugi about colonial history, this collection is a gem. Whenever I open this collection up, his astute analysis keeps me thinking- about my experience in this world, the legacy if colonialism in my life and in my country, about history, African history, my history, my place and identity in this world. Love it! Cannot recommend it enough.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Iva

    Achebe's careful observations come from having grown up in Africa, having experienced the English there, and then living most of his adult life in the U.S. This is a collection of 17 speeches and essays most appreciated by those who have read "Things Fall Apart", the "first" novel from Africa which has recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its publication. It is quite current and deserves its celebration. Achebe shares enough of his remarkable life to make this loosely a biography of sorts Achebe's careful observations come from having grown up in Africa, having experienced the English there, and then living most of his adult life in the U.S. This is a collection of 17 speeches and essays most appreciated by those who have read "Things Fall Apart", the "first" novel from Africa which has recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its publication. It is quite current and deserves its celebration. Achebe shares enough of his remarkable life to make this loosely a biography of sorts.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I consider this a gateway book. The collection of essays touches on a myriad of topics. Many of them I want to know more about. The author is very honest and forthcoming about his abhorrence for British Colonialism in Africa. I read "Things Fall Apart" and I plan to read more by this author sometimes referred to as the Father of African literature. If interested, I've posted a more comprehensive review over on the blog: http://readinghaspurpose.blogspot.com... I consider this a gateway book. The collection of essays touches on a myriad of topics. Many of them I want to know more about. The author is very honest and forthcoming about his abhorrence for British Colonialism in Africa. I read "Things Fall Apart" and I plan to read more by this author sometimes referred to as the Father of African literature. If interested, I've posted a more comprehensive review over on the blog: http://readinghaspurpose.blogspot.com...

  17. 5 out of 5

    drowningmermaid

    Another brilliant work from Achebe, my favorite of the modern African writers. Insightful, thoughtful, and well-reasoned. Not five stars, because some of the essays do repeat some thoughts and information (ie Achebe's enormous distaste for Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"). Learned a great deal about African ties with America, and African-Americans like James Baldwin, who was initially ashamed of his African roots, buying into the myths about Africa which were propagated by European slavers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ima

    Achebe's essays cover a wide range of topics from his childhood through his political and literary development. This collection of essays is personal while providing broader historical context to Nigeria. The notes at the end list references cited in his essays.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Thompson

    Enlightening

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

    This is a collection of essays but Chinua Achebe, a man often referred to as the 'father' of African literature. The essays are meant to be autobiographical and some do touch on more personal issues in his life - such as his father (who embraced much of the colonial thinking), his daughters, and how the changes in Nigeria have affected how he acted and thought about himself and his homeland. Most of the essays were published or given as speeches over the years. My biggest gripe with this collecti This is a collection of essays but Chinua Achebe, a man often referred to as the 'father' of African literature. The essays are meant to be autobiographical and some do touch on more personal issues in his life - such as his father (who embraced much of the colonial thinking), his daughters, and how the changes in Nigeria have affected how he acted and thought about himself and his homeland. Most of the essays were published or given as speeches over the years. My biggest gripe with this collection is that they did not seem to be greatly edited. Achebe refers to several people and events multiple times throughout the collection but never connects them (even with a sentence such as, a previously mentioned). As a result, I sometimes felt as though I was reading a redundant thought. This is unfortunate. There are however, many wonderful thoughts, ideas, and phrases throughout the book. I particularly liked Achebe's discussion of when he realized that he, as an Africa, was not one of the heroes in the books he was reading in school, but rather that savage. And how even in the post-colonial time when his children were growing up newly published books continued this imagery as the African as impoverished and ignorant, albeit in a more subtle way than in the classics. Achebe's discussion on leadership was also very well written and like many ideas and themes in his writing it transcends his discussion of Africa. While Achebe is focusing on Nigeria and African in general when he posits that it is wrong to condemn a country because of its bad leaders, but that the people also need to take a greater interest and higher standards in selecting and maintaining their leaders, this lesson can be applied world-wide. A thought-provoking read which will lead the reader to a greater understanding of Africa as well as their own country.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book was a struggle for me to get through. So many of the essays lack a cohesive structure, are repetitive, or feel like "filler"... If we take the personal essay as an exercise in storytelling (and I do), it's hard to tell if a book like that is a success or a failure, nearly impossible to determine what standards to judge it by. On the one hand, it's frustrating for me read the work of a master storyteller that so utterly undermines what I feel is a true story - with a beginning and end, a This book was a struggle for me to get through. So many of the essays lack a cohesive structure, are repetitive, or feel like "filler"... If we take the personal essay as an exercise in storytelling (and I do), it's hard to tell if a book like that is a success or a failure, nearly impossible to determine what standards to judge it by. On the one hand, it's frustrating for me read the work of a master storyteller that so utterly undermines what I feel is a true story - with a beginning and end, a motive, something new to learn along the way. But then, what is a story anyways? Specifically, what is a Nigerian story? Is it the same thing as a Nigerian essay? Honestly, I have no idea. It was frustrating to read essays that felt like a man exercising his own ego, his love of his own voice... until I realized that a love of one's own voice is essential to the art of storytelling. And that storytelling as an art (rather than a byproduct) is essential to the author's culture, but not equivocally to mine. Making me precisely 100% unqualified to critique the value or ability of his craft. Achebe is wonderful person, fascinating as a character as well as for his literary abilities. This book provides remarkable insight into him as a writer, a father, a citizen. I'm giving it three stars because I trust the intention behind it, not necessarily because I "liked it" as Goodreads suggests. But it was worth reading, and I recommend you do the same.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rani

    Chinua Achebe was a brilliant writer and a brilliant man. These essays are a collection of his reflections and insights on Nigeria, Africa, colonialism and racism. Achebe’s wisdom and beautiful writing does shine through in these essays. I think this book is worthwhile if you’re a fan of Achebe and want to read more of his insights and writing. However, this book is a collection of essays that weren’t originally meant to be read together. Because of this, the same points are sometimes repeated f Chinua Achebe was a brilliant writer and a brilliant man. These essays are a collection of his reflections and insights on Nigeria, Africa, colonialism and racism. Achebe’s wisdom and beautiful writing does shine through in these essays. I think this book is worthwhile if you’re a fan of Achebe and want to read more of his insights and writing. However, this book is a collection of essays that weren’t originally meant to be read together. Because of this, the same points are sometimes repeated from essay to essay, which detracts from the reading experience. Additionally, this collection isn’t as memorable as Achebe’s renowned Things Fall Apart or his powerful memoir There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra. If you’re unfamiliar with Achebe’s work, I’d recommend reading one of these books first to get a sense for his brilliance.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Grady

    The jacket advertises this book of essays as Chinua Achebe's 'first new book in more than twenty years', but in fact it mostly collects essays and addresses that were written between 1988 and 1999, with one from 2008 and two from 2009. The best, most thoughtful essays are the oldest: 'Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature', 1989, about writing African literature in English, the colonizer's language; 'African Literature as Restoration of Celebration', 1990, offering a theory The jacket advertises this book of essays as Chinua Achebe's 'first new book in more than twenty years', but in fact it mostly collects essays and addresses that were written between 1988 and 1999, with one from 2008 and two from 2009. The best, most thoughtful essays are the oldest: 'Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature', 1989, about writing African literature in English, the colonizer's language; 'African Literature as Restoration of Celebration', 1990, offering a theory of how literature can make healing sense of a colonial past; and 'Teaching Things Fall Apart', 1991, on why Achebe's most famous novel has global appeal. The last essay in the book, 'Africa is People', 1998, on the need for the developed world to pay attention to the impacts of economic policies on individual Africans, is also stirring. These four essays (and a few others) are well worth tracking down and reading. Unfortunately, many of the rest are slight, or essentially rework earlier themes without adding new insights.

  24. 4 out of 5

    joycesu

    Achebe's essays on the European colonization of Nigeria and his experiences growing up educated in that world are enthralling. His better known novel, Things Fall Apart is a wonderful, and (in my opinion) a mandatory companion to this collection... as is Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness . Achebe offers eye-opening insights on the positive and negative effects of imperialism alongside the ways racism proliferates today in seemingly harmless, but quite destructive ways (i.e. children's book Achebe's essays on the European colonization of Nigeria and his experiences growing up educated in that world are enthralling. His better known novel, Things Fall Apart is a wonderful, and (in my opinion) a mandatory companion to this collection... as is Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness . Achebe offers eye-opening insights on the positive and negative effects of imperialism alongside the ways racism proliferates today in seemingly harmless, but quite destructive ways (i.e. children's books and classic novels). The essays are thought-provoking, incredibly passionate, and wise... a must-read for those not only interested in African literature, but also civil rights and the cultural evolution of race and mankind.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Roth

    There's really barely enough for a book here. You can almost see the strain of the publisher's layout people enlarging the type and pulling in the margins so that this can be just barely long enough to justify charging $19.99 for. Clearly this was issued during an era when Achebe was having a well-deserved rest on his laurels and writing little more than rambling little talks that he's invited to give, since most of these essays are transcripts of invited lectures--after-dinner talks, one might There's really barely enough for a book here. You can almost see the strain of the publisher's layout people enlarging the type and pulling in the margins so that this can be just barely long enough to justify charging $19.99 for. Clearly this was issued during an era when Achebe was having a well-deserved rest on his laurels and writing little more than rambling little talks that he's invited to give, since most of these essays are transcripts of invited lectures--after-dinner talks, one might almost call them. Lots of fluff, and lots of material repeated. I was most interested to read his defense of writing in a colonial language, English, and the tiny forays into the topic of Biafra. He had not yet worked up the courage to write in full about that war, which he finally did shortly before his death in the magnificent "There Was a Country." This is a space-filler of a book. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't committed to reading every single thing by Achebe.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This book is worth reading because China Acheba speaks with authority and candor about Africans (specifically Nigerians), African-Americans, post-colonialism, post-post colonialism and more. He reminds me of an elder relative who has seen and done a lot and offers up words of wisdom. I do not always agree with him but from the tone of his essays, I almost can hear him say, "well, it's something to consider, dear." Another thought I walked away with after reading his essays is that much has been This book is worth reading because China Acheba speaks with authority and candor about Africans (specifically Nigerians), African-Americans, post-colonialism, post-post colonialism and more. He reminds me of an elder relative who has seen and done a lot and offers up words of wisdom. I do not always agree with him but from the tone of his essays, I almost can hear him say, "well, it's something to consider, dear." Another thought I walked away with after reading his essays is that much has been accomplished but there's much more for us (every single one of us) to do to make the world a more humane place. I highly recommend that you digest these slowly. They were a treat for me on several Sunday mornings with my tea.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alanna Smith

    I've been reading this very slowly (which is why I have no other books reviewed recently), but I have been really enjoying it. I feel like Achebe is one of the more honest and compassionate writers out there, but at the same time he's just as "there" intellectually as the more cutthroat types. I adore him. Unless you have an interest in colonialism or African literature, though, I doubt this selection of essays would appeal to you very much. Me, nothing thrilled me more than reading his essay "Po I've been reading this very slowly (which is why I have no other books reviewed recently), but I have been really enjoying it. I feel like Achebe is one of the more honest and compassionate writers out there, but at the same time he's just as "there" intellectually as the more cutthroat types. I adore him. Unless you have an interest in colonialism or African literature, though, I doubt this selection of essays would appeal to you very much. Me, nothing thrilled me more than reading his essay "Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature" and recognizing some of the people whose ideas he was refuting (such as Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Wole Soyinka) and also agreeing with the conclusions that Achebe came to. It's nice to feel like a bit of the intellectual again!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I fully agree with Harrie M. Leyten, who wrote a review for Biblion (Dutch library org.), that these essays of Achebe stand out because of the strong socio-political engagement on the one hand, and a firm intellectual independence on the other hand. The author uses clear language. He mentions Joseph Conrad, of course, amongst many others. But there is no word about André Gide, whose published diary about his inspection trip into Central Africa in 1925 – than French – which had the effect of an i I fully agree with Harrie M. Leyten, who wrote a review for Biblion (Dutch library org.), that these essays of Achebe stand out because of the strong socio-political engagement on the one hand, and a firm intellectual independence on the other hand. The author uses clear language. He mentions Joseph Conrad, of course, amongst many others. But there is no word about André Gide, whose published diary about his inspection trip into Central Africa in 1925 – than French – which had the effect of an indictment about the inhuman way the colonial rulers treated the native humans, even led to a fierce debate in the French parliament! Recommended to everyone who is seriously interested in Africans. JM

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    God it is so good to read something so well written. After reading that awful book with such bad writing, reading Chinua Achebe was like bathing in clear water. Thank God for good writers! The essays collected in The Education of a British-Protected Child focus on a myriad of things but have at their core the central theme of the effects of colonialism. A true and real education on the dignity and history of Africa and the colonised places of the world is yet to be discovered, yet to be dissemina God it is so good to read something so well written. After reading that awful book with such bad writing, reading Chinua Achebe was like bathing in clear water. Thank God for good writers! The essays collected in The Education of a British-Protected Child focus on a myriad of things but have at their core the central theme of the effects of colonialism. A true and real education on the dignity and history of Africa and the colonised places of the world is yet to be discovered, yet to be disseminated. The central drive of these essays is this push, for greater awareness, greater understanding. A great book to read and to listen to.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Violet

    It's a fantastic read to understand more about slavery and colonialism from the perspective of someone who grew up in a country that was deeply affected by the tragedies. It is the book of both a scholar and a story teller. You will find in this book reflections on British authors, Nigerian authors, politicians, and tales from his childhood. It feels a bit repetitive at times as it's a collection of lectures and essays from various sources; but it's worth the read and it's a great insight on a c It's a fantastic read to understand more about slavery and colonialism from the perspective of someone who grew up in a country that was deeply affected by the tragedies. It is the book of both a scholar and a story teller. You will find in this book reflections on British authors, Nigerian authors, politicians, and tales from his childhood. It feels a bit repetitive at times as it's a collection of lectures and essays from various sources; but it's worth the read and it's a great insight on a culture you might not know too well - I know I don't. It's beautifully written and very thought-provoking.

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