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The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  660 ratings  ·  95 reviews
From the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart and winner of the Man Booker International Prize comes a new collection of autobiographical essays—his first new book in more than twenty years.

Chinua Achebe’s characteristically measured and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces. In a preface, he discusses his historic visit to
Hardcover, 172 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2009)
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3.95  · 
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 ·  660 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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"Who is Chinua Achebe?"the boy asks when he sees me reading.
He's the writer who made people notice African novels . They call him the patriarch of African Literature.
"Ohhh. Is this your favorite book?"
No, but this one is. I read it when I was your age. I reach for Things Fall Apart from my shelf and hand it to him. He's here for an hour or two, with his sister, the kids another single-mother-friend has sent to hang out in my library until she gets home from the second job. His dad died in the s
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Chinua Achebe is one of my favourite authors of all times. His novels, short stories, poems, essays and political statements join together to show a personality formed by many disparate cultural backgrounds, yet strong and full of personal integrity. He has opinions, and he expresses them clearly: I like that. He is not always modest, and he admits it. He has a sense of irony and humour, but he takes humanity seriously enough to suffer at injustice. His common sense does not prevent him from cel ...more
Apr 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read_and_review
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
Tumelo Moleleki
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have, through this collection, become aware of the debts of inhumanity the white person has gone to to nullify my humanity. Reading that is not only educational but crucial to every African.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa
Defines, Decodes and DEFIES the language, mythos and ethos of colonialism.

I've read so many of Achebe's non-fiction work in quick succession, and as a result, not only am I quite charmed (he seemed to be such a charismatic person), I've received an education that has sharpened my mind and further deepened my love and appreciation for Chinua Achebe's work, but for African/diasporic literature in general.

I never really understood what writing as resistance really meant - after all, I came up in a
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mylibrary
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
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I borrowed this collection as an audiobook, I expected a collection of autobiographical essays about Chinua Achebe's childhood. This was so much more than that. Should be required reading in courses on American history, world history, economics. As usual, words fail me.
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
Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, nigeria, biography
Anders als im englischsprachigen Raum, wo z. B. Chinua Achebes „Alles zerfällt“ zur Pflichtlektüre gehört, führen afrikanische Autoren auf dem deutschen Buchmarkt eher ein Nischendasein. Der 2003 verstorbene Autor aus dem Volk der Igbo in Nigeria zeigt sich in dieser Essaysammlung als selbstkritischer, schlagfertiger Redner und Analytiker. Achebe ermöglicht den Lesern seiner Werke einen Blick auf die Privatperson Achebe. Der Mann, den seine Klassenkameraden humorvoll „Lexikon“ riefen, wuchs unte ...more
Nov 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: africa, memoir, historical, own
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
May 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
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
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Chinua Achebe was a brilliant writer and a brilliant man. These essays are a collection of his reflections and insights on Nigeria, Africa, colonialism and racism. Achebe’s wisdom and beautiful writing does shine through in these essays.

I think this book is worthwhile if you’re a fan of Achebe and want to read more of his insights and writing.

However, this book is a collection of essays that weren’t originally meant to be read together. Because of this, the same points are sometimes repeated f
Mar 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Recueil de courtes réflexions politiques à teneure parfois autobiographique. Plutôt répétitif : les mêmes préoccupations, anecdotes et exemples reviennent. Cela ne m'a pas gêné : un peu comme quand on discute longuement avec qn sur plusieurs soirées, il y a des choses qui reviennent.
- l'anglais : langue impérialiste et aussi la langue dans laquelle il écrit ses romans. Certains de ses collègues font le choix d'écrire dans une autre langue que celle là, considérant qu'une émancipation réelle n'e
Grady McCallie
Feb 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
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
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 an
Christopher Roth
Aug 29, 2015 rated it liked it
There's really barely enough for a book here. You can almost see the strain of the publisher's layout people enlarging the type and pulling in the margins so that this can be just barely long enough to justify charging $19.99 for. Clearly this was issued during an era when Achebe was having a well-deserved rest on his laurels and writing little more than rambling little talks that he's invited to give, since most of these essays are transcripts of invited lectures--after-dinner talks, one might ...more
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This 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 been ...more
Ola Loobeensky
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Czytam po raz drugi i podwyższam ocenę. Nie spotkałam dotychczas drugiej tak wnikliwej książki o szeroko pojętej Afryce, która równie zgrabnie burzyłaby różne neokolonialne dogmaty quasi-religijne na temat ludzi z tego kontynentu (wyłączając opracowania naukowe). Esej o Conradzie jest doskonały. Wychowanym na bełkocie celebryckich podróżników czytelnikom może wydać się gorzką pigułką, ale żeby wierzyć, że by udać się w podróż do własnego ja musisz lecieć do Kenii zetknąć się z "prymitywnymi wier ...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
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's a fantastic read to understand more about slavery and colonialism from the perspective of someone who grew up in a country that was deeply affected by the tragedies. It is the book of both a scholar and a story teller. You will find in this book reflections on British authors, Nigerian authors, politicians, and tales from his childhood. It feels a bit repetitive at times as it's a collection of lectures and essays from various sources; but it's worth the read and it's a great insight on a c ...more
Jerry Landry
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
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
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, fiction
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
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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:
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is a series of essays, making it an easy read.

Achebe is an angry man but with justification. He uses his anger well, expressing very clearly the hypocrisy, greed and cruelty of the colonial citizen. His message that all persons are to be dealt with with dignity and respect is witnessed by the way in which he deals with the colonizers and those who are blind to the injustice of it all.
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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
“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.” 151 likes
“...when we are comfortable and inattentive, we run the risk of committing grave injustices absentmindedly.” 61 likes
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