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BARD COLLEGE TO HOST TWO-DAY CONFERENCE IN CELEBRATION OF CHINUA ACHEBE'S 70th BIRTHDAY Participants Include K. A. Appiah, John Ashbery, Nuruddin Farah, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Nadine Gordimer, Michael Harper, Toni Morrison, Emmanuel Obiechina, Wole Soy

Mark Primoff
P>ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.* Since the publication in 1958 of his groundbreaking novel Things Fall Apart, Nigerian writer and Bard College faculty member Chinua Achebe has been recognized throughout the world as one of his generation’s most powerful and eloquent literary voices. On Friday, November 3, and Saturday, November 4, Bard College will host a conference in celebration of Achebe’s 70th birthday. The conference will bring together an international group of writers, scholars, political activists, and friends to mark this important milestone and to explore Achebe’s literary and political influence over the decades.

Among those scheduled to participate in the conference are K. A. Appiah, John Ashbery, Don Burness, Chinweizu, Johnetta Cole, Jayne Cortez, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Joseph Duffey, Michael Eric Dyson, Nuruddin Farah, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Nadine Gordimer, Michael Harper, C. L. Innes, Bernth Lindfors, Norman Manea, Ali Mazrui, Toni Morrison, Micere Mugo, Gil Noble, Emmanuel Obiechina, Charles Ogletree, Sonia Sanchez, Ruth Simmons, Richard Sklar, Wole Soyinka, Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and John Edgar Wideman. A videotaped message from Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, will be presented with an introduction by Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer.

In addition to celebrating the birthday of this legendary man of letters, participants will explore his roles in literature, politics, and education through panels such as "Education and Political Representation," "Images of Africa," "The Writer on the World Stage: Impediments and Approaches to Dialogue," "Achebe and Aesthetics: The Emergence of Modern African Literature," and "The African World: A New Millennium." Other events include readings, conversations, and an art exhibition featuring paintings and drawings by Obiora Udechukwu and Ada Udechukwu.

Chinua Achebe

Born in Nigeria in 1930, Chinua Achebe is one of Africa’s most important and influential writers, widely regarded as the patriarch of the modern African novel. His groundbreaking 1958 book Things Fall Apart has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than fifty languages. Achebe has expressed a passionate commitment to political justice though his novels, essays, and poetry, bringing to life not only the African viewpoint of European colonialism but also the troubled political life of contemporary Africa. "In all Achebe’s writing there is an intense moral energy, as there is wherever he speaks about the task of the writer…in language that captures the sense of threat and loss that must have faced many Africans as empire invaded and disrupted their lives…his convictions are as clear and as strong and as elegantly expressed and his moral commitments as passionate as one could hope for," writes Kwame Anthony Appiah.

Achebe is Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, a position he has held since 1990. He is the author of five novels, including No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, and Anthills of the Savannah; two volumes of poetry; five children’s books; and numerous short stories and critical essays. His most recent book, a collection of essays entitled Home and Exile, was published this spring by Oxford University Press. His awards, prizes, and appointments include the Commonwealth Poetry Prize; Lotus Award for Afro-Asian Writers; Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, London; Honorary Foreign Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Letters; Campion Medal; Presidential Fellow Lecturer, The World Bank; and the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA), the country’s highest award for intellectual achievement.

Space is limited and reservations for the conference are required. For additional information or to make reservations call 845-758-7410 or visit the Bard College website at

[EDITORS: To make arrangements for press coverage or to ask questions about media attendance, please call Mark Primoff at 845-758-7412 or e-mail Arrangements must be made in advance.]

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This event was last updated on 03-02-2001