They Stole Our Stories – But He Took Them Back

chinua achebe sitting down in front of a microphone at a table
Leslie Taylor-Grover
November 12, 2022

Chinua Achebe witnessed firsthand the cruelties of the British colonization of Nigeria. He also understood that almost all of the literature about Africa promoted the colonialist view, justifying slavery and painting Black people in a bad light. 

But what could he do about it? He wasn’t an activist or a powerful politician.

Although he had held a few different jobs, his role as an educator had given him the vision to help his people: to tell the TRUTH.  Achebe decided to write about it.

He didn’t sugarcoat his work. His first novel, Things Fall Apart, centered on the struggle between native African culture and its oppression by white Christian missionaries and the colonial government. 

He directly contradicted white revisionist tellings of this fight.

His work was well-received and gave voice to the struggles and complexities of life under colonists. He continued to write and tell the story of colonized life, but he also did something else.

He created a space for African writers that had not existed before. White writers had stolen the African story – he took it back.  His legacy earned him the title of the Father of African Literature

Achebe reminds us of something we must never forget what we bear witness to in the past shapes our liberation in the future.

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