A Discussion of the Author Chinua Achebe’s Views Upon the Use of English Literature as a Postcolonial Medium

Essay by katib_1980 June 2010

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A discussion of the author Chinua Achebe's views upon the use of English literature as a postcolonial medium

English has enjoyed the status of an almost universal language for quite a while now. For decades it has ruled the thoughts and words of many a greater writer; Chinua Achebe belongs to this category. Achebe is one of the first African writers that became a major novelist and was able to grasp the attention of readers both inside and outside Africa. For most part of his career Achebe has defended the use of English as a postcolonial medium rather than his own native tongue. That being said the author does not believe in completely abandoning his mother language either. Achebe is one of the few that would rather opt for a middle ground, i.e. using both English and his native language in unison to form an altogether unique but accurate perspective which can benefit readers universally.

Achebe's views on language on the surface appear paradoxical; while he advocates the use of English as a medium for literature he also denounces its singular use in any text. In 1975 he wrote 'Morning yet on creation day,' which was a collection of lectures essays focused on the issues of language and writing. This compilation was aimed at European writers and critics who wished to quite literally exorcise African literature of its native traits, in favour of a more universal approach. Achebe's work has often been criticised because of his choice of English as the medium through which he conveys his message. Continually, he has defended and even promoted the use of English and other European languages in the construction of African fiction, often discounting the claim that a real African experience or taste can only come from a piece of literature that...