News / Africa

World-Renowned Nigerian Author Refuses His Country's Honor

Chinua Achebe, Nigerian-born novelist and poet at his home on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York where he is a professor Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2008.
Chinua Achebe, Nigerian-born novelist and poet at his home on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York where he is a professor Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2008.

Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has, for the second time, refused to accept an honorary title from his home country.

The author of the internationally-acclaimed novel Things Fall Apart would have been one of the Nigerians named a "Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic" at a ceremony on Monday.

But Achebe, who now lives in the U.S., said Nigeria has not addressed or solved the concerns he raised the last time he was offered the honor in 2004.  At that time, he wrote a letter to Nigeria's president saying the country was suffering from insecurity and corruption, and that parts of the country, including his home state of Anambra, were being run as a "bankrupt and lawless fiefdom."

A spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan called Achebe's decision "regrettable."  He said Achebe had failed to note the extensive electoral reforms that have taken place under Mr. Jonathan, and suggested it may be because the author does not spend much time in Nigeria.

President Jonathan was elected earlier this year in a vote deemed fair by international observers.  But violence erupted after the results were announced, and there has also been a surge of attacks, mostly in the North, blamed on a radical Muslim sect called Boko Haram.

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