Opinion: My response to Onyeka Nwelue’s criticism of ‘Things Fall Apart’

by Simon Utsu

In response to the attack on the standout literature in Achebe’s legendary body of work viz Things fall apart, a Facebook friend said the book was part of the curriculum when she did her elementary schooling in south Korea and was also one of the texts they were made to study in her first year in Howard university, US which is in the ivy league. What else, Chinua Achebe completed that book when he was in his 20’s.

Maybe the Hong Kong based English lecturer, Onyeka Nwelue is ‘jealous’ of that fact because he’s already the same age Achebe was when he released that classic but has nothing tangible to show for; I’m yet to see any of his literary works or art that has made people to even turn their heads in his direction.

In fact, the only thing I’ve stumbled on, on the internet that he wrote was an article which praised Linda Ikeji’s work ethic. It was shared on Linda’s blog sometime last year. What drew my attention to write up wasn’t even the lengthy write up (which lacked literary sophistication), it was his picture that Linda attached to it.

I saw a writer with dreadlocks wearing some nice African fabrics. So his strategy is to attract people to his urban looks; shift their focus away from his literature which at its best is average. This is quite similar to what some American musicians who lack singing talent do; expose their curves and heavily tattoed bodies in their music videos so you focus on that and pay less attention to the content of their songs. But which acclaimed writer only gets his works published in Nigerian blogs?

If the the self-acclaimed ‘professor’ of African literature, Onyeka Onwelue wants us to start taking him seriously, he should go and write something half as good as 2005 released novel, “Beast of no nation” which was written by the young son of Okonjo Iweala, and has since been adapted into a movie by Hollywood studios.

Uzodima Iweala who studied Medicine & Surgery and who did writing for fun was able to produce such a classic literature at the young age of 23, yet a so called literature guru feels the best road to literary fame is to bring down the work of a genius.

Truth is, at his current age (28+), most legendary writers already had a classic novel to show. Let me remind you once again: Achebe wrote things fall apart at 28, Chimamanda wrote Purple Hibiscus when she was 26, Uzodimma wrote Beast of No Nation at 23, get busy and churn out a classic before the end of the year Mr Onyeka, leave hate; you’re running late. You have to improve your game because for now, comparing you with any of the aforementioned novelists is like comparing Ogenyi Onazi with Lionel Messi.

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Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Simon Utsu can be reached on Twitter via @SimonChairman

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