LONDON – High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency Aloun N’dombet-Assamba, was one of the special guest speakers at a memorial ceremony held in London on May 18 to celebrate the life of the late African literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe.
The High Commissioner said Professor Achebe’s writings have educated, inspired and enlightened people worldwide and that he used his work to campaign against injustice, racism, and tribalism.
She said his seminal novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’, was the introduction for many Jamaicans to African literature and helped to increase our understanding that Africa is a diverse, culturally rich, powerful and striving continent.
“For many Jamaicans, and I would hazard a guess that it was the same for countless others across the world, Mr. Achebe’s seminal novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ was our introduction to African literature and writers. It opened our eyes and our understanding that the ‘Dark’ continent that we were often led to fear, was as complex, culturally rich and diverse, powerful and striving as anywhere else on earth.
It was the beginning of our own consciousness about being black and being proud,” the High Commissioner said.
She described Professor Achebe as truly a Man for All Seasons, noting that his global significance was not only in his talent and recognition as a writer, but also as a critical thinker.
“For many young boys and girls growing up in the Caribbean at a time when all of our images of the Intellectual Great and Good were of European stock, he was simply our role model. I am eternally grateful to have been exposed to his writings as a teenager and to have had the honour of meeting him as a grown woman,” she added.
The High Commissioner also spoke of Professor Achebe’s 2007 visit to Jamaica as part of the Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the end of the Transatlantic Slave Trade of Africans to the Caribbean.
“In this short visit, through a series of talks, interviews and lectures he spoke of the symbiosis of the history and relationship that exist between us in Jamaica and Africa. Professor Achebe challenged us to change the perception of what was happening to us and he left us with his motto, which is: ‘Don’t give up, don’t despair and don’t listen to those who say you can’t achieve your goals’,” she said.
CONTACT: VIVIENNE SIVA
JAMAICAN HIGH COMMISSION