The year 2018 marks the Diamond anniversary of the publication of the 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The story’s main preoccupation concerns pre- and post-colonial life in late 19th century Nigeria. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, one of the first to receive global, critical acclaim. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and is widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It was first published in 1958 by William Heinemann Ltd in the U.K. In 1962, it was also the first work published in Heinemann’s African Writers Series. The title of the novel comes from a line in W. B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”.
The celebration of the 60th anniversary of Things Fall Apart is a global affair, with activities taking place in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and nine other African countries including South Africa, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Togo, Uganda, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Togo between February and December 2018. Past fellows of Ebedi International Writers Residency will help organise events in the other African countries.
There will be a five-city transnational event in Nigeria, with activities ranging from Symposia to Children’s Carnival, Writing Competition, Stage Presentations of Things Fall Apart, as well as a Grand Finale with a Night of Tributes. In Nigeria, the activities above will be held in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Sokoto with the grand finale at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
A literary competition among secondary school students in the five centres will be organised. The competition will be organised with the provision of copies of Things Fall Apart for the students to read for one month before the day of the competition, which will be in the form of a quiz, reading comprehension and one act dramatic enactment of any part of the book by participating schools.
Apart from foreign writers and scholars, notable Africa-based writers and scholars will also be invited to present papers and talks.
A five-man Africa Organizing Committee to be headed by former National President, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Dr. Wale Okediran, will oversee the organisation of the event in Nigeria and 10 other African countries while Local Organising Committees in the five centres in Nigeria and other African countries will also be constituted.
In Nigeria, the colloquium has been slated from February to August 2018 while other African countries will fix their own celebration between January and December 2018.
In Nigeria, collaborations will be done with the ANA at the national level and through its state chapters, where the events are billed to hold as well as tertiary institutions such as University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, University of Abuja, Othma Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto as well as the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) will also support in the area of publicity and the use of the NTA Arena in Abuja for the Children’s Carnival.
Okediran, a former House of Representatives’ member, explained that organising activities for the celebration of Things Fall Apart 60 years after would be keeping the literary achievement of the iconic novel aglow. As he put it, “Too many things keeping people gloomy in Nigeria. Literature is as important as politics or even more important. Don’t forget, the best literature comes out of the time of great distress. We should not allow whatever is happening to dampen our enthusiasm for literature, as it has its own impetus. We will also use the celebration to immense our children in the literary tradition. We are using it to celebrate our pioneers of literature.
“Penguin is doing another edition of Things Fall Apart; so, the economics is another aspect of the celebration. As you can also see, through Achebe’s iconic offerings we’re uniting Nigeria (with the five-city celebration of activities) where others are dividing the country.”
Tentative venues and dates for the Nigerian celebration are Lagos – Tuesday, July 10, 2018 – Symposium, Literary Competition and Stage Adaptation of Things Fall Apart (TFA). In Ibadan – Tuesday, July 17, 2018 – Symposium, Literary Competition and Stage Adaptation of TFA. Abuja (University) – Tuesday, July 24, 2018 – Symposium, Literary Competition and Stage Adaptation of TFA. Abuja (City) – Saturday, July 28, 2018 – Children’s Carnival and Stage Play by Secondary School Students. In Sokoto – Thursday, August 2, 2018 – Symposium, Literary Competition and Stage Play of TFA; and Nsukka – Saturday, August 11, 2018 – Symposium, Literary Competition and Night of Tributes and Dinner.
In view of the above, The Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation invites abstracts for 15 – 20-minute presentations during the International Conference to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the iconic book. The conference will hold in five cities as indicated above. In so doing, the conference will also be celebrating the works of one of Africa’s most outstanding writers as well as the achievements, friendships, partnerships and challenges of African literature in the past 60 years. The conference will be a platform for students, writers, scholars, literary critics and other interested parties to engage, rethink and propose possible new directions for African literature after 60 years of Things Fall Apart.
Scholars have been enjoined to submit abstracts, not exceeding 200 words, on any of the sub-themes below ‘Conflict Generation and Resolution in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart,’ ‘African Literature after Achebe’s Things Fall Apart,’ ‘The Achebe Spirit in the Emergence of Modern African Literature,’ ‘Managing Changes and Transitions in a Pluralized Society: Achebe’s Things Fall Apart in Reference,’ ‘Africa at the Crossroads of Development and Good Governance: What Has Literature Got To Do With It?’ ‘Traditionalism versus modernism in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart,’ ‘Sexualities and subjectivities: Women in Achebe’s Novels,’ ‘Imagining a New Africa: The Rhetoric of Transformation in Literature and Oratory,’ ‘The Dialectics and Symbolism of Things Fall Apart,’ ‘Prophesy and Poetry in the works of Chinua Achebe,’ ‘Culture, Nationalism and the African Writer,’ and ‘Literary Influences, Impacts and Imitations across Generations.’
All abstracts should be submitted electronically to: ThingsFallApart60@yahoo.com and copied to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for submission of abstracts is March 15, 2018. Notification for abstracts acceptance is March 30, 2018 while full paper submission deadline is May 30, 2018.
Things Fall Apart follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo (‘Ibo’ in the novel) leader and local wrestling champion in the fictional Nigerian village of Umuofia. The work is split into three parts, with the first describing his family, personal history, and the customs and society of the Igbo, and the second and third sections introducing the influence of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on the Igbo community.
Things Fall Apart was followed by a sequel, No Longer at Ease (1960), originally written as the second part of a larger work along with Arrow of God (1964). Achebe states that his two later novels A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987), while not featuring Okonkwo’s descendants, are spiritual successors to the previous novels in chronicling African history.