Kgalema Motlanthe, Former South Africa President, To Deliver Chinua Achebe Leadership Lecture

...In New York

The Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation and the Black Studies Department of the City College of New York have announced that on December 12, 2018, at 6:30 pm, in the Aaron Davis Hall of the City College of New York, United States of America, Mr. Kgalema Motlanthe – Former President of South Africa – will deliver the Chinua Achebe Leadership Forum Lecture, a statement credited to Dr. Chidi Achebe, Director of the Foundation and President and CEO of African Integrated Development Enterprise Inc, said.

The Chinua Achebe Leadership Forum is being organized as a high profile international platform to discuss Africa’s challenges in keeping with Professor Chinua Achebe’s life’s work. This year’s lecture is dedicated to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Professor Achebe seminal African novel in English, Things Fall Apart.

Immediately after the lecture there will be a round table discussion with the President and a distinguished panel of scholars.

About Chinua Achebe and the Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation

“One of the great literary voices of all time, Professor Chinua Achebe was also a beloved God-fearing husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him.”

Professor Chinua Achebe was born in eastern Nigeria on November 16, 1930, to Isaiah Okafor Achebe and Janet Achebe. His father Isaiah Okafor Achebe was a catechist for the Church Missionary Society and along with his wife travelled throughout Eastern Nigeria to spread the gospel. That Christian upbringing would not only later mold Professor Achebe’s thinking and worldview, but would profoundly inspire these writings.

After an early education in British styled public schools and university in colonial Nigeria, Professor Chinua Achebe became an author of over twenty books – poetry, novels, children’s books, essays, and political as well as literary criticism. He is probably best known internationally for the trio of novels globally recognized as “the African Trilogy”Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God. Of the trio, “Arrow of God” is considered his magnum opus, and his first novel Things Fall Apart – the most widely read book in modern African literature – which depicts the collision between British rule and traditional Igbo culture in his native southeast Nigeria; is considered a world literary masterpiece and is studied across the globe in high schools and colleges. In 2012 he published his memoirs There Was a Country – which earned him a spot on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of Top 100 Global thinkers of 2012[iii] for “forcing Africans to examine their demons.”[iv]

Professor Achebe is credited as the major 20th Century Literary voice to bring African culture and literature to the rest of the world. A statement from the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South quoted Nelson Mandela as referring to Professor Chinua Achebe as a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down.” Professor Achebe established the Chinua Achebe Foundation in the early ‘90s. Chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the foundation has worked tirelessly to promote peace through the arts; showcase Africa complex cultural heritage to the world while recapturing lost components of African fine art, literature and languages.

Through his work as the editor of the African Writers Series, published by England’s Heinemann publishers, “the series served as a vehicle for whole generation of African writers, ensuring an international voice to literary masters including Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Steve Biko, Ama Ata Aidoo, Nadine Gordimer, Nuruddin Farah, Buchi Emecheta and Okot p’Bitek.”

Prof. Chinua Achebe

For intermittent periods, Professor Achebe lived and worked as a professor in the United States, lecturing widely and teaching in universities in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York – at Bard College for over fifteen years – and most recently at Brown University in Rhode Island. During his long and distinguished career, “Achebe was the recipient of over 40 honorary degrees from universities in England, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States, including Brown University, Dartmouth College and Harvard University. He has been awarded the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, an Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1982), a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002), the Nigerian National Order of Merit (Nigeria’s highest honor for academic work), the St. Louis literary award, and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade amongst others. The Man Booker International Prize and The Medal of Honor of The National Arts Club both in 2007; and the 2010 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; are three of the more recent accolades Achebe received.”

Professor Achebe also earned a powerful reputation as a leading critic of graft and misrule in his native Nigeria and twice refused one of that nation’s highest honors Commander of the Federal Republic, in 2004 and 2011 in protest. In addition, Professor Achebe wrote extensively about racial and ethnic bigotry and leaves behind a reputation as one who lived as a formidable advocate for the “least amongst us” – the down trodden, powerless and voiceless everywhere.

New cover of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

About City College of New York

The founding institution of the City University of New York, City College offers outstanding teaching, learning and research on a beautiful campus in the heart of the world’s most dynamic city. Our classrooms are equipped with the technology for a truly interactive learning environment. Our libraries hold 1.5 million volumes and provide online access to the resources of the entire university. Our laboratories are engines of innovation, where students and faculty push the boundaries of knowledge.

Outstanding programs in architecture, engineering, education and the liberal arts and sciences prepare our students for the future, and produce outstanding leaders in every field. Whether they are drawn to the traditional, like philosophy or sociology, or emerging fields like sonic arts or biomedical engineering, our baccalaureate graduates go on to graduate programs at Stanford, Columbia or MIT – or they stay right here in one of our 50 master’s programs or our doctoral programs in engineering, the laboratory sciences, and psychology.

Nowhere else in the city do undergraduates have so many opportunities to conduct research with professors and publish and present their findings. In our science, engineering and social science programs, more than 300 undergrads work alongside senior researchers in funded projects.

Leading CUNY in funded research, we house a number of research centers, and soon two new advanced research centers will rise on South Campus. Nearly all of our full-time faculty hold PhDs or – like our architecture faculty, maintain professional practices. Art professors exhibit their work, film professors make films, and music professors perform in venues around the country.

The campus is alive with student activity. City College fields 16 varsity teams that compete in NCAA Division III – and students work out in an equipment rich fitness center and socialize in more than 100 student clubs. And our students come from around the corner and world, representing more than 150 nationalities.

City College is an integral part of the civic, urban and artistic energy of New York and inseparable from its history. We are the City that built this city.

About Aaron Davis Hall

The premiere performing arts center in Harlem, home to the Department of Theatre and Speech’s mainstage productions, contains three theaters: The Marian Anderson Theater, a 750- seat traditional proscenium-style space; Theater “B, a flexible theater with 110-265 seats; and Theater “C,” a 75-seat space, which doubles as a studio classroom. It includes large dressing rooms, the scenery and costume shops, and the Green Room. There is a “smart” classroom designed for our theatre history and design classes. It also boasts a large lobby and exhibition area.


Chidi Chike Achebe MD, MPH, MBA

For the family and the Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation


 About Kgalema Motlanthe

While working for the Johannesburg City Council in the 1970s, Kgalema Motlanthe was recruited into Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), the then armed wing of the ANC. After 11 months’ detention in John Vorster Square Police Station in central Johannesburg, he was sentenced to an effective 10 years’ imprisonment in 1977, which he served on Robben Island. After his release in 1987, he was tasked with strengthening the trade union movement while working for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). In 1992, he was elected as NUM General Secretary and was involved in the establishment of the Mineworkers Investment Company and the Mineworkers Development Agency, which focused on the developmental needs of ex- mineworkers, their dependants and communities. He also served two five-year terms as Secretary General of the ANC, and was President of South Africa from September 2008 to May 2009. During this time, he joined world leaders in the G20 and other multilateral bodies to respond to the global financial crisis. At home he worked with organized business, labor and civil society to minimize the impact of the crisis on South Africa’s economy. After the end of his presidency, he was appointed Deputy President by his successor, Jacob Zuma, and held this position until May 2014. He now heads the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation, which was established when he left government.


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