On October 14-15, the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute hosted the symposium, "Forty Years After: Chinua Achebe and Africa in the Global Imagination" to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Achebe's famous "Image of Africa" lecture. The lecture, which was originally presented as a Chancellor's Lecture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, was subsequently published in the Massachusetts Review and has since become celebrated and iconic: a remarkable moment both in literary criticism, and in a broader cultural assessment of how AFrican has been perceived and represented in the Western world.
The symposium brought together speakers and panelists to discuss the impact of Achebe's lecture and its continuing legacy, commemorating the event and bringing the discussion into the present. Over the two days, approximately 500 people gathered in attendance to hear the speakers and panelists, which included Denja Abdullahi, Jules Chametzky, Johnnetta Cole, Achille Mbembe, Maaza Mengiste, Okey Ndibe, Chinelo Okparanta, Caryl Phillips, Esther Terry, Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, and Chika Unigwe. Dr. Chidi Achebe, Chinua Achebe's son, spoke about his family's time in Amherst, and many others recalled Chinua's kindness, vision, and lasting influence.
A short video, featuring interviews with some of the speakers, can be found here, courtesy of the Department of News and Media Relations at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.