Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Jeyifo: First, There Was A Country; Then There Wasn’t: Reflections On Achebe’s New Book (2)

 An interesting take on Chinua Achebe's memoir of the Nigerian Civil war, "There Was a Country," by Professor Biodun Jeyifo of Harvard University.



"IF in There Was A Country “a Nigerian ruling class” only appears in the narratives and reflections of the author in the final fourth part of the book, this is only the most stunning aspect of the general intellectual and discursive architecture of the book. This “architecture”, this “grammar” is none other than the fact that for nearly all other parts of the book with the exception of that concluding fourth part, all of Achebe’s “explanations”, all of his speculations in the book are relentlessly driven by ethnicity, and a very curious conception of ethnicity for that matter. Logically, inevitably, the corollary to this is that “explanations” and speculations based on class, and more specifically on intra-class and inter-class factors, are either completely ignored or even deliberately excluded. As I shall presently demonstrate, this is a remarkable departure from virtually all of Achebe’s writings prior to this recently published book. For now, let me illustrate this startling matter of the complete subsumption of class into ethnicity in There Was A Country with two particularly telling examples out of innumerable other instances in the book."

ENJOY

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