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The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  331 ratings  ·  57 reviews
From the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart comes a new collection of autobiographical essays—his first new book in more than twenty years.

Chinua Achebe’s characteristically eloquent and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces. From a vivid portrait of growing up in colonial Nigeria to considerations on the African-American Dia...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2009)
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"Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" should be repeated every hour on the hour by every school child all over the world until it becomes the mantra of all societies. It is Bantu for "A human is human because of other humans."

The simple but profound adage is the theme of Chinua Achebe's collection of essays, The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays.It may also be the theme of his life's work, judging by the simple message it conveys about the importance of the communal aspirations of the peoples...more
Achebe is a skillful writer, which makes these essays a delight to read. His view that Nigeria is not a mother- or fatherland, but rather a child that needs its citizens to raise it was particularly striking. He makes cogent points about the toxic legacy of colonialism, which I think is especially obvious in the way some aid organizations want(ed) to impose fixes, rather than participate in finding solutions.

On a technically picky note, the LOC wants to catalogue this in 823.914, which is Englis...more
This is a collection of essays but Chinua Achebe, a man often referred to as the 'father' of African literature. The essays are meant to be autobiographical and some do touch on more personal issues in his life - such as his father (who embraced much of the colonial thinking), his daughters, and how the changes in Nigeria have affected how he acted and thought about himself and his homeland.

Most of the essays were published or given as speeches over the years. My biggest gripe with this collecti...more
Grady McCallie
The jacket advertises this book of essays as Chinua Achebe's 'first new book in more than twenty years', but in fact it mostly collects essays and addresses that were written between 1988 and 1999, with one from 2008 and two from 2009. The best, most thoughtful essays are the oldest: 'Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature', 1989, about writing African literature in English, the colonizer's language; 'African Literature as Restoration of Celebration', 1990, offering a theory...more
This book was a struggle for me to get through.

So many of the essays lack a cohesive structure, are repetitive, or feel like "filler"... If we take the personal essay as an exercise in storytelling (and I do), it's hard to tell if a book like that is a success or a failure, nearly impossible to determine what standards to judge it by.

On the one hand, it's frustrating for me read the work of a master storyteller that so utterly undermines what I feel is a true story - with a beginning and end, a...more
This book is a great detox for all the colonial propaganda that one hears! It is a must read for understanding the language of colonialism. Nevertheless, Chinua Achebe is a great writer and a man of determined and stubborn stance! He will never move aside whenever the subject of colonialism comes and he will give a scathing and deriding reminder to the coloniser of his atrocities! He is critical of Conrad and points out his shameful remarks clearly. This book is also about Africa and Africans. T...more
Achebe's careful observations come from having grown up in Africa, having experienced the English there, and then living most of his adult life in the U.S. This is a collection of 17 speeches and essays most appreciated by those who have read "Things Fall Apart", the "first" novel from Africa which has recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its publication. It is quite current and deserves its celebration. Achebe shares enough of his remarkable life to make this loosely a biography of sorts...more
Almost exactly 11 months ago, Chinua Achebe died. I rarely mourn celebrities or authors, but for some reason, his death struck a nerve. Maybe because we share a birthday. Maybe because reading his book in graduate school opened my world up (yes, that's right, I didn't read it until I was 22--a terrible shame).

Probably, though, the reason I mourned the loss of Chinua Achebe so much is because that day the world lost a great man, a man of great reason. Reading these essays I was reminded of his vo...more
I fully agree with Harrie M. Leyten, who wrote a review for Biblion (Dutch library org.), that these essays of Achebe stand out because of the strong socio-political engagement on the one hand, and a firm intellectual independence on the other hand. The author uses clear language. He mentions Joseph Conrad, of course, amongst many others. But there is no word about André Gide, whose published diary about his inspection trip into Central Africa in 1925 – than French – which had the effect of an i...more
God it is so good to read something so well written. After reading that awful book with such bad writing, reading Chinua Achebe was like bathing in clear water. Thank God for good writers!

The essays collected in The Education of a British-Protected Child focus on a myriad of things but have at their core the central theme of the effects of colonialism. A true and real education on the dignity and history of Africa and the colonised places of the world is yet to be discovered, yet to be dissemina...more
Lady Jaye
More than any of his other works, for me, this collection of essays is the definitive Achebe. Every single one of the essays resonates with me. Loudly and clearly.

In them he masterfully explores what it means to be an African in this big wide world, what it means to once again learn "to spell our proper name." He touches on issues of history, of agency, colonialism, and humanity that affect our identity as Africans, people of color, as human beings. He speaks on perception, self-image, and our p...more
I enjoyed these. They were interesting. Having just returned from visiting Ghana, they gave me an extra layer with which to help me interpret my visit to West Africa, and the way I, a child of the diaspora felt about it. Although there is an 'akwabaa' (welcome) sign on the land side of the door or no return, put there for the black Americans who come back, I don't think there is a coming back. Achebe's essays help me know the brother on the other side, the brother, that, as James Baldwin puts it...more
Achebe's essays on the European colonization of Nigeria and his experiences growing up educated in that world are enthralling. His better known novel, Things Fall Apart is a wonderful, and (in my opinion) a mandatory companion to this collection... as is Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness .

Achebe offers eye-opening insights on the positive and negative effects of imperialism alongside the ways racism proliferates today in seemingly harmless, but quite destructive ways (i.e. children's books and...more
I very rarely find essays satisfying, but since this was Achebe and it was a library check out, I went for it. I was hoping to learn more about this author and something of Nigeria. There were a few interesting moments such as Achebe's meeting Richard Wright and Langston Hughes, his views on Conrad, travel in Africa in the early 1960's and his impressions on high level literary or policy gatherings, but on the whole this book validates my feeling.

Achebe is a master in developing themes. The essa...more
I've been reading this very slowly (which is why I have no other books reviewed recently), but I have been really enjoying it. I feel like Achebe is one of the more honest and compassionate writers out there, but at the same time he's just as "there" intellectually as the more cutthroat types. I adore him. Unless you have an interest in colonialism or African literature, though, I doubt this selection of essays would appeal to you very much.

Me, nothing thrilled me more than reading his essay "Po...more
Sep 13, 2014 girl. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Africans, westerners, the world
This was an excellent read -- essays that are at once interesting and provoking, enough to keep you going. As I read the 'Africa is People' essay, a thought came to my mind. Imagine that Achebe were alive today and he monitored a blog on which he published writing such as the kind one finds in this book: the discussions that would ensue are sure to be interesting, if sometimes ridiculous.

The man writes with passion, and it is admirable. Inspiring, even.

Also, Joseph Conrad *really* pissed Achebe...more
This is book is worth reading because China Acheba speaks with authority and candor about Africans (specifically Nigerians), African-Americans, post-colonialism, post-post colonialism and more. He reminds me of an elder relative who has seen and done a lot and offers up words of wisdom. I do not always agree with him but from the tone of his essays, I almost can hear him say, "well, it's something to consider, dear." Another thought I walked away with after reading his essays is that much has be...more
I consider this a gateway book. The collection of essays touches on a myriad of topics. Many of them I want to know more about. The author is very honest and forthcoming about his abhorrence for British Colonialism in Africa. I read "Things Fall Apart" and I plan to read more by this author sometimes referred to as the Father of African literature.

If interested, I've posted a more comprehensive review over on the blog.
Within this audiobook are 17 essays written by African author, Chinua Achebe. These essays range from historical to political and also include personal experiences. They give us a bit of an insiders look of what it was like to grow up in colonial Nigeria, the discrimination and oppression encountered within African nations and Achebe's view on the world outside his homeland. The author's words are quite thought provoking and describe how images of Africans, formed many years ago, still construct...more
This book of essays can be summed up by two quotes from it. The first is from Achebe himself: "Africa is people." The second is the Bantu dictum: "A human is human because of other humans." Once you acknowledge the truth of the former, the latter implies how our actions should trend. This may all seem utterly obvious, but as Achebe points out, after centuries of intentional degradation of a people by those who speak and write about them, nothing should be taken for granted. These essays, like ev...more
It was a quick read and a very good read. The author spells out very clearly the perspective of one who was from a colonized nation - and who sees their fellow citizens, not as the colonized, but as human beings. The sub-text to these essays, it feels like to me - is a deep understanding that whether in Africa or Europe or the Americas - all that surrounds us are human beings - with aspirations, dreams, capacities. I was very, very glad I read this. I think that peoples in all walks of life ough...more
believe it or not, a very readable and brilliant survey of Achebe's intellectual and family pursuits over the years. So you get both insider personal information about his family, what it's like living in usa as a brown person(not fun most of the time), Nigerian fuckedupedness both homegrown and from the outside (see missionaries and oil companies), pan-African literature and politics, and much much more. This is the Achebe version of the great great Eduardo Galeano and his "Upside Down" and "Mi...more
Perhaps not the place to start if you haven't read Achebe, but if (or once) you find that "Things Fall Apart" and "Arrow of God" are essential books, then this collection of essays, by turns biographical, political, literary, is an excellent supplement, revealing the character and personality of the man behind the masterpieces. The account of his one and only meeting with James Baldwin, in 1980, is one for the history books. (A google search on Baldwin's punchline gives only 5 results -- I'm gue...more
Jerry Landry
While addressing various subjects and audiences, this collection of essays by the late Chinua Achebe had numerous common themes including education, the development of institutions to promote African growth in general but particularly focused on his native land of Nigeria, and interactions between African nations and the rest of the world, in particular European nations and the US. His unique outlook on and insights into the ways of the world will be greatly missed, and this is a highly recommen...more
Once again, Chinua Achebe manages to bring a humanist perspective to rethinking perceived notions of Africa and questioning existing and often unconscious biases. Most of all, he paints a path for what should be Africa's future if only we can find a way to view the continent on equal footing to the West.
Another brilliant work from Achebe, my favorite of the modern African writers. Insightful, thoughtful, and well-reasoned. Not five stars, because some of the essays do repeat some thoughts and information (ie Achebe's enormous distaste for Conrad's "Heart of Darkness").

Learned a great deal about African ties with America, and African-Americans like James Baldwin, who was initially ashamed of his African roots, buying into the myths about Africa which were propagated by European slavers.
Some of these essays are thought-provoking. Indeed Achebe is at his best when he is criticizing Nigerian leadership, imperialist thought, and the power of narrative and language.

But there is a lot of fluff here too. There are too many essays that are too short to deliver any depth, or that assume you know the subject. Not a fan.

That's not to say every essay should be Deep and Meaningful. But at least be interesting or funny if you're not going to provoke thought.
Cynthia Maltbie
An elightening reflection on being an African writer, crossing historical, racial and cultural boundaries. Conversational, and elegantly written. But most of all worth reading to be reminded of that the simplest ideas are often the truest. Africa is people. "Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu: A human is human because of other humans." Bantu.

I borrowed this from the library, but will buy a copy so I can be brought back to these essential truths.
I remember reading Things Fall Apart as a white high school student in the late 1960's. Although it was riveting, I did not really understand the context and history at the time. This fine author reflects on his times, family, and career with wisdom and love that are global. Thanks for enlightening me on Joseph Conrad's unfortunate immersion in imperialism and for the beautiful essay on Martin Luther King.
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Chinua Achebe was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Raised by Christian parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religion...more
More about Chinua Achebe...
Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy, #1) No Longer at Ease Arrow of God A Man of the People Anthills of the Savannah

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“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb Onye ji onye n'ani ji onwe ya: "He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.” 95 likes
“...when we are comfortable and inattentive, we run the risk of committing grave injustices absentmindedly.” 40 likes
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