by Terri Ochiagha (James Currey 2015)
WINNER OF THE ASAUK FAGE & OLIVER PRIZE 2016
The first in-depth scholarly study of the literary awakening in the 1940s and ’50s of Nigeria’s “first-generation” writers Chinua Achebe, Elechi Amadi, Chike Momah, Christopher Okigbo and Chukwuemeka Ike in the context of their education at Government College, Umuahia, an elite colonial boarding school. The author provides fresh perspectives on Postcolonial and World literary processes, colonial education in British Africa, literary representations of colonialism, Chinua Achebe’s seminal position as a writer and the implications of this very particular education for African literature as a whole.
‘Focusing on the emergence of an African elite at Government College Umuahia and their turn to literature as a mode of self-expression, Terri Ochiagha’s Achebe and Friends answers one of the outstanding questions in African literary history: Why did the most important group of pioneer writers emerge from one institution in Eastern Nigeria in the last decades of colonial rule? Ochiagha combines the archival skills of a cultural historian with the sensibilities of a literary critic to produce perhaps one of the most important commentaries on African literature in recent years. This is a remarkable book on the origins of African literature and an unmatched model of how to do the literary history of the postcolonial world.’ – SIMON GIKANDI, Robert Schirmer Professor of English (Princeton)
‘Offers compelling insights into the development of Nigeria’s most celebrated writers, and provides a much-needed account of how their education at Umuahia contributed to their success.’ – TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
‘A major study….this book is a new perspective on British colonial education in Nigeria and the development of Nigeria’s modern literature, especially in the way the writers’ visions were shaped to re-inscribe African literature.’ – AFRICA BOOK LINK
‘Groundbreaking on many fronts. Not only is it “the first in-depth scholarly study of the literary awakening of the young intellectuals who became known as Nigeria’s ‘first-generation’ writers in the post-colonial period”; it also, subtly, proposes a new framework for receiving and interrogating the works of said writers.’ – TORCH
About the Author
Terri Ochiagha holds one of the prestigious British Academy Newton International Fellowships (2014-16) hosted by the School of English, University of Sussex. She was previously a Senior Associate Member of St Antony’s College, University of Oxford.