The theme of the event was After Chinua Achebe: African Writing and the Future, and the program included a symposium, in the Weis Cinema at the Bertelsmann Campus Center that examined “the current flowering of writing by African authors, in Africa and in the diaspora,” followed by the dedication of a room in the Stevenson Library at Bard in memory of Achebe.
There was also a dance performance by Souleymane Badolo, a Brooklyn-based choreographer and dancer born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, celebrating the life of Achebe, followed by an opening address by President Leon Botstein.
There were two panel discussions on Writing Beyond Africa: The African imagination in the diaspora and Activism and the Word: Writing, speech and song in African political culture. Panelists included the novelists Nuruddin Farah, Teju Cole, Dinaw Mengestu and Fatin Abbas, and the musician and activist DJ Switch.
The event was sponsored by the President’s Office, the Hannah Arendt Center, the Stevenson Library, Africana Studies, and the Offices of the Dean and Alumni/ae Affairs.
Members of the Achebe family, led by the Matriarch, Professor Christie Achebe, were in attendance. Professor Chinua Achebe died on March 22, 2013 at 82.
Bard College thanked Penguin Press and Penguin Classics for their support by providing copies of The African Trilogy.
Chinua Achebe was a groundbreaking Nigerian writer best known for his first and most influential novel, Things Fall Apart. He wrote numerous other books, including works of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and children’s books. He received more than 30 honorary degrees, as well as many awards for his work and from 1990 to 2009 was the Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College.