Chinua Achebe “A Text Book Act” for Education
Written by William Jackson   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 00:32





Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter…
Chinua Achebe

Imagine a law that did not allow you to read on certain days of the week, or at certain times of the day. Imagine a law that governed what you could and could not read. Imagine because of the color of your skin you were kept ignorant intentionally so that generations would be treated like cattle or worse.

As one of the founding fathers of literature in Nigeria, Chinua Achebe and others faced these same restrictions directed to keep Nigerians and even Africans oppressed mentally, this leads to limiting the skill sets for Nigerians and Africans to think and rationalize for themselves. The same was faced during slavery for Blacks in the Americas. The importance of education and being a life-long learner cannot be expressed in just text, but is shared through storytelling by the elders.

This is why libraries and museums are important; they create the atmosphere for learning.

Chinua Achebe at an early age was fascinated by books and learning, books opened doors to higher thinking that later contributed to Achebe writing books that became internationally known and inspired generations to make formative changes to their value of education not just in Nigeria, but all of Africa and globally for people of oppression.

Achebe was raised during a time of British colonialism where students were not allowed to read books about history and geography. To learn their own heritage was forbidden, only learning of whites and their history of colonizing the savages.

Achebe stated that, “books have power and influence,” this is why they were limited to what they could read.

Too many African Americans are denying themselves to reading, and the lack of reading leads to a lack or diminished ability to comprehend what is read.  Too many times because of the lack of comprehension and the inability to read, African Americans do not see that literature can inspire and engage the mind to think outside of the boxes of ignorance or the lack of understanding.

The depiction of themselves (African American youth) as gangstas, thugs, ruffians, and other designations that are demeaning and even racists can be found in newspapers and other literature.

The lack of reading creates generations of children that have no idea of worlds beyond their neighborhoods, their cities and the building of dreams to expand past their social and economic conditions.

African American families cannot afford to wait to be “lucky” in sports and entertainment to escape their neighborhoods, once escaped there is still the need to be well-read in higher education so as not to return to their roots broken in finances and even in education.

Everyone has a story to tell, but if they are illiterate and ignorant to the best promises of education they will never be able to tell their stories or learn from others. Chinua Achebe escaped civil war in Nigeria; he escaped the ravages of war and the misguidance of people that wanted to kill him and his family. Complications of leadership lead to millions of people dying during the civil wars in Nigeria and throughout Africa even today.

African Americans must understand the limits of protests; sometimes the futility of marches and even the brashness of interrupting others in speeches and public displays of violence hurt us all. In the 21st century might and influence are recognized and respected in the application of power through applying knowledge, economic influence and political alliances. African Americans must learn that what they bring to the table is more important and powerful than marches and protests.

Chinua Achebe is honored as the “Father of African Literature,” who do African Americans call the Father or Mother of literature and learning? Youth, teens and young adults know the names of sports stars, entertainment legends that bring about feelings, but what of those who try to create platforms of engaged dialogue and discussion on intellectual levels? Have they been long forgotten because they demand something that African Americans are increasingly willing to give up on or too many don’t value, a free mind?

From reading comes writing, how or who will tell the stories of African Americans and their history in the 20th and 21st centuries if there are not enough readers of literature and writers of history from the African American perspective. Achebe has stated that, “good writing requires more than dashing things.” He expressed that from an interpretation from Nigeria, “a human is human because of humans.” Thus, African Americans celebrate African Americans only because they know who they are. Children in schools across this nation don’t even know their history.

African Americans must support learning and re-build the respect and value of education within the African American community. There cannot be a reliability of schools to teach, it must be the responsibility of African American families that are engaged in learning in their homes and learning in their communities.

If Chinua Achebe can be called the “Father of African Literature,” African American communities must recognize and lift up those that fight for learning in their communities. Who are these pioneers and protagonists of heroic statue, who encourages higher and higher learning? History will tell and the children of each generation will tell the stories by their actions or ignorance in schools from elementary to higher education and beyond.

Why become a writer from Chinua Achebe….

1. You have an overpowering edge to tell a story.

2. You have information of a unique story waiting to come out.

3. What you learn is in the process of becoming a writer. Chinua Achebe Interview on YouTube

4. 10 Books that will elevate your child’s mind

5. Collection of African American Books To Learn about the Legacies

6. Are Things Falling Apart in the African American Community


About the author of this article: William Jackson is a graduate of South Carolina State University where he earned a Bachelor of Education. He also graduated from Webster University and got a Master's degree in Educational Technology. His career in education spans over 20 years, He taught in elementary schools as a STEAM. In addition, he was a Physical Education teacher and at an HBCU-Edward Waters College in the Education Department he taught educational technology. William has been blogging over 10 years and made conferences in Philadelphia, (Pennsylvania), Miami (Florida), etc. The above article was originally published on and the author wrote for years on this website. His blog is located at He tweets at @wmjackson and his Instagram account is He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . In addition, you can click here to listen to his great interview with Malcolm X's daughter.