Soyinka Clears the Record on Achebe


“Achebe A Celebrated Storyteller, But No Father Of African Literature, Says Soyinka.” The headline sound sensationalistic and snipey, but this interview with Wole Soyinka about the death of Chinua Achebe is nuanced and comprehensive, if more than a little prickly.

Soyinka discusses what it’s like to lose a friend and colleague—and what it’s like to deal with the media’s wrongheaded notions about the relationship between the two men and the literary scene they were a part of. Plus the way he talks is incredible:

At this stage in our lives, the surviving have a duty to smash the mouths of liars to begin with, then move to explain to those who have genuinely misread, who have failed to place incidents in their true perspective, or who simply forget that life is sometimes strange – rich but strange, and inundated with flux.


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →