The Chinua Achebe Symposium Program

The Chinua Achebe Symposium @ Princeton

Africa World Initiative and Program in African Studies, Princeton University

The Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation

September 29, 2023

LOCATION: Arthur Lewis Auditorium, Robertson Hall 

September 30, 2023

LOCATION: McCosh 50, McCosh Hall


Symposium Advisory Committee

Dr. Ato Quayson, Stanford University

Dr. Grace Musila, University of Cape Town

Dr. Terri Ochiagha, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Chris Okonkwo, Florida State University (Chair)  


Event co-sponsors: Program in African Studies . Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies . Department of African American Studies . School of Public and International Affairs . Department of Art & Archaeology . Humanities Council . Department of Comparative Literature


Visitor Travel and Parking


9:00 am9:10 am
Robertson Hall

Chika Okeke-Agulu, Director, Africa World Initiative/ Director, Program in African Studies

Christie Achebe / Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation

Event Pictures

9:15 am11:00 am
Panel 1
Theme: Toward New (Contextual, Theoretical and/or Critical) Directions in Achebe Studies

Even with the staggering amount of scholarly, cultural, pedagogic, and political interest that Achebe has commanded over the years, there remains a pressing need today for new contextual, theoretical and/or critical directions in Achebe studies. What fresh, vibrant or even daring ways of conceptualizing,…

11:10 am12:55 pm
Panel 2
Theme: Achebe and the Politics of Canonicity

This panel aims to reflect on the conditions governing Achebe’s canonicity and their implications in the current literary landscape. What exact factors enabled Achebe’s canonicity and has/does it manifest? In what ways does it lend itself to or is undermined by reductive and exoticist circulations of Achebe’s work…

1:00 pm1:50 pm


2:00 pm

 HE Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, Nigeria

View Video



3:00 pm4:45 pm
Panel 3
Theme: Achebe, African Literatures and/in the Age of Historical Reckonings

To call the past 25 years the “Age of Historical Reckonings” would be an understatement—what with the watershed Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Concerned Student 1950, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Rhodes Must Fall, End SARS protests, and continued institutional reckonings with slavery and imperialism. Grounded in…

5:00 pm6:30 pm
The Trouble with Nigeria: Leadership and Statecraft in Nigeria and Africa

This year 2023 marks the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Achebe’s blistering, 67-page critique The Trouble with Nigeria. Although focused on his nation, the 2023 general elections of which coincide with The Trouble with Nigeria’s print commemoration, that little book might as well…

8:00 pm11:00 pm

(By Invitation Only) 

3:00 pm6:30 pm
Chinua Achebe Memorial Celebration
McCosh Hall 50

The memorial celebration on September 30th will be graced by His Royal Majesty, Igwe Alex Onyido, the Monarch of Ogidi Kingdom in Nigeria, and will feature tributes by Abena Busia, Toyin Falola, Simon Gikandi, Richard Joseph, Anthonia Kalu, Sonia Sanchez, and Obiora Udechukwu; readings by Patrice Nganang and Chika Unigwe, as well as praise poetry by Udoji Achebe and Ojaadiligbo, a dance act by Dorobucci Dance Company, a solo mbira performance by Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa, and the Eme & Heteru Afro-roots Band.



Eme & Heteru Band

HRM Igwe Onyido’s remarks [Kolanut blessing/presentation]


Dorobucci African Dance Company performance

Udoji Achebe & Ojaadiligbo performance

Transition [band]


· Richard Joseph, Emeritus John Evans Professor of International History and Politics, Northwestern University

· Sonia Sanchez, Poet, Writer, and Professor 

Transition [band]

Reading: Chika Unigwe, Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia College & State University

Transition [band]


· Obiora Udechukwu, Emeritus Dana Professor of Fine Arts, St. Lawrence University

· H. E. Abena P. A. Busia, Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of Ghana to Brazil, Professor Emerita, Rutgers University

· Simon Gikandi, Class of 1943 University Professor of English, and Chair, Department of English, Princeton University

Transition [band]

Reading: Patrice Nganang, Professor and Chair, Department of Africana Studies, State University of New York at Stony Brook.


· Anthonia Kalu, Professor of Comparative Literature, African Studies, University of California-Riverside 

· Oseloka Obaze, Former Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Nigeria

Transition [band]

Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa -- Mbira performance


MCs: Bunmi Otegbade & Mutemwa Masheke

Event Pictures                                                                     

7:00 pm10:00 pm

@ Shultz Dining Room (By Invitation Only)