Book #02

Africa's Tarnished Name by Chinua Achebe

He needed to hear Africa speak for itself after a lifetime of hearing Africa spoken about by others.

Electrifying essays on the history, complexity, diversity of a continent, from the father of modern African literature.

It’s really only been in the past ten years or so that I’ve realised how whitewashed our education is. Although already deeply aware of this, Achebe has taught me in these essays that I was not entirely aware of how deeply this whitewashing runs, and his words rival anything I learned about Africa in school. Most notable of all is that Achebe mentions David Livingstone at various points - a man born a few towns over from me, and a hero of the area. I remember learning about him in school, and his explorations in Africa; I don’t remember learning anything about Africa.

Achebe’s style is natural and almost comforting, as though being taught a lesson by an older relative where they make it seem as though it isn’t a lecture. It’s there to allow you to learn about the world you’re living in, without depending on instruction but instead allowing you to work things out on your own, to make realisations, and most importantly, for me anyway, to think about your own prejudices, and wonder where they came from.

He shows us his world, his Africa, far apart from anything we’ve been fed by media or biased textbooks - a country of people who have been caricatured, stereotyped, and shown to be anything other than what they actually are - human.

“It was not so much a question of the times in which they lived as the kind of people they were.”