Blog #12 – Achebe & the English Language.

When mentioning Achebe, a common issue of controversy is his use of the English language. Due to the fact that Achebe is an African author, one who had his nation undergo the struggles of colonization (and the effects of the post-colonial era), many critics argue that he should stick to using his native tongue. Achebe addresses this issue in both interviews and his writing, and from my perspective, it seems that he almost embraces the idea of English now being Nigeria’s primary language. While he is by no means happy that his home country was once taken from his people, he does not seem to revolt against the change that the British brought. Achebe says that “the country which we know as Nigeria today began not so very ago as the arbitrary creation of the British” (Achebe 851). As stated, while Achebe isn’t ecstatic about the colonization, he believes that Nigeria can benefit from it, noting that rather than being resentful “it may be more profitable to look at the scene as it is” (Achebe 851). Another reason I believe Achebe embraces the changes colonization has brought Nigeria is the fact that he goes on to mention the positive aspects that the colonization brought, particularly praising the “big political units” (Achebe). It seems that Achebe realizes that it is too late to fight the change that was brought upon them, and has learned to make the best of what was given to him. What I find interesting, also, is that even by adapting to a new language, Achebe essentially mastered the art of writing, and became one of the most prolific authors of the 20th century. This, I believe, helps strengthen Achebe’s reasoning to adapt and embrace the English language.

One Response to “Blog #12 – Achebe & the English Language.”

  1. Kim Sasser says:

    As I described in class, I see Achebe’s position as optimistic pragmatism. He’s realistic about the causes of English language in Africa, as well as other effects of colonization, yet sees the potential benefits. Perhaps that optimism has to do with the proximity between Nigerian independence and the date this essay was written (w/in a few years of each other).

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