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Book Review: Winning With Akin Oluwadare’s “Winning Strategies”



Book Review: Winning With Akin Oluwadare's “Winning Strategies”

Title of Book: Winning Strategies: 50 Selected Thoughts for Leaders and Aspiring Leaders.
Author: Akin Oluwadare Jnr.
Number of Pages: 214
Publisher: CSS Bookshop
Publishing Date: 2020
Book Reviewer: Yinka Oyebode


When the Author, Akin Oluwadare, whom I am comfortable calling Akin or Akinse told me I would be the reviewer of his second book, I readily accepted the challenge. As a matter of fact, I have accepted to be the reviewer of this book before I began to consider the date of the event and whether or not I would be so chanced. You won’t blame me. You can hardly say no to a charismatic and engaging personality like Akin. Needless to say that Akin and I are childhood friends, but more importantly he is a friend I so much admire and respect for his strength of conviction and generosity of spirit. And this is mutual.

Reading through the book, one cannot mistake the fact the author’s engaging personality reflects quite vividly in his work. Good writing, according to World Street Journal’s Bestselling Author, Ann Handley, “serves the reader, not the writer” and as opined by Donald Morison Murray, the renowned American Journalist and English Professor “The reader doesn’t turn the page because of a hunger to applaud. Rather, good writing anticipates what questions readers will have as they read a piece, and (before they ask them) it answers them.” Handley also posits that good writing is simple but not simplistic.

It would appear that both Handley and Murray had the book “Winning Ways” by Akin Oluwadare in mind while making these very profound statements that have helped many writers re-focus their creative energy.

The author makes no pretensions about his intention to make the book answer some life- transforming posers which leaders and those eager to make a success of their career or leadership roles are daily confronted with. Apparently, the author endorses Brian Sanders’ submission that “everything rises and falls on leadership”, hence the book focuses on equipping readers with many leadership tips.
Published in 2020, (the year that the world was brought under its kneel by a global pandemic known as Covid -19), the book which is divided into ten major chapters can aptly be described as a leadership manual. Each of the chapters contains a group of five essays dealing with the subject matter of the chapter. The book evaluates and examines different aspects of leadership, using day-to day ordinary situations to teach leadership lessons that are capable of provoking genuine change and equip the reader with the right attitude to become not just a changed person, but a change agent.

READ ALSO: Ex-Bank MD Atuche Gets Jail Term Over N25.7b Fraud

The foreword to the book, brilliantly written by Arc. Yinka Williams and the preface by the author, as well as the handful of endorsements on the opening pages have ably laid a good foundation for the content of the book and clearly provide the reader with adequate hints on what to expect in the book.

As pointed out earlier, each of the chapters has a message that is succinctly delivered through a collection of five essays each between 600 to 1000 words. The shortness of the essays is an incentive to the reader.

Chapter one: Proceed with Unfaltering Courage: This chapter, unarguably the foundation chapter, puts the reader through some rudiments of leadership training. The author stealthily seeded lessons via the five essays titled: Just Begin; Inaction is Dangerous; Knowing Where to Tap; Do It Afraid; and Choose Your Battle. Some of the key takeaways in the chapter include his admonition in the essay “Inaction is Dangerous”, where he writes: “Take a step from the norm. Jump however difficult it seems at first trial. Many things can happen when you jump; you may jump and fly and become a good example to others. You may jump and fall on something soft; there are lessons for you if you are discerning. You may jump and fall on something hard and the pains therefrom may teach you some quick lessons that may be your turning point. Anyhow you get back up and shift position forward, it is dangerous to remain on one spot for too long. Inaction is dangerous. (pg7)

In “Do it Afraid”, he writes: “Indecision is also a decision but it is the worst type of decision”. Further down he posits “If fear is capable of producing tears of joy, should we then be afraid of fear all the time?”

Chapter Two: “Strive for Excellence.” The author in this chapter, shares some hard facts that would drive the reader in the pursuit of excellence. Akin Oluwadare, himself a man of excellence points at some practical steps through the five essays vis: Good is Not enough; Being on Time is Late; The Man Jim Ovia; Change Before You Have To and Impact.

Specifically, the author who has over the years been a beneficiary of the institutional grooming at the Zenith Bank, where he is a Senior Manager, uses the bank’s founder, Jim Ovia’s rise to prominence and dominance in the banking sector, as well as a few other leaders, to drive home some leadership traits that would aid a steady rise on the leadership ladder. The Bible in Proverbs 1 vs 5 says “A wise man will hear and will increase in learning and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsel”. The author, uses the story of Jim Ovia’s book launch to drive home the point that every experience should necessarily produce some positive impact. For him the book launch remains one event that inspires him and deepens his thirst for excellence.

Aside from Ovia, which he showers with very generous accolades (for obvious reason), he also cites personalities like the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo SAN and the doyen of accounting profession in Nigeria, Pa Akinola Williams as some leaders he draws inspiration from. “The simple message here is for you to reinvent and keep reinventing yourself”, he concludes.

Chapter 3: Battle of The Mind: The topics include Confidence; Poverty Mentality; face Your Fear; Blow Your Trumpet and Expressions. The author’s main concern here is how to deconstruct some old beliefs that tend to slow people down. “Your good works announce you but sometimes, you have to first announce yourself to own your good works before your good works begin to announce you”, he posits on page 53.

Chapter 4: Exercise Self- Control: The five topics here are Be Slow To Speak; Delay Gratification; Think Safely; Test The water; Just before You Condemn. The author devotes the chapter to some tips that are crucial to self-control. “Taste your words and look beyond the primary effect on related parties before you utter them. Relationships broken are hard to mend. Be slow to speak” (pg 65). Also on page 81 he writes: “Now I know that success is not only about the good, the better and the best. Success includes the ability to manage the good, the bad and the ugly and still stay true to yourself and your conscience not minding what the society thinks”.

Chapter 5: Hidden Values: The five topics here are Discover Your Secret Place; Employee, Know Thyself; The Catalyst; Beware of Negative Motivation; Trust But verify.

Again, the author in this chapter dwells on self-discovery as a key point in leadership. “The quality of your thoughts dictates the direction of your energy. You may not have control over how you spend your energy because it has a direct correlation with your thought process, but exercising control over your thought process will save you a lot of positive energy” , he states on page 85. He throws a poser to the reader on page 88: “Please describe yourself in one sentence, who are you? If it takes you more than 30 seconds to describe who you are, then I see a risk. If you are not seeing one, then it may be that you are so buried in your day job that you do not take time to know who you really are beyond what puts money in your pocket….” (page 92)

This is a challenge I would like to throw to everyone here as well…WHO ARE YOU?
Again on page 93 he shares yet another poser: “Your vision may be sizzling hot, but progress might be slow if you do not have anyone following up on you to measure the pace at which things are coming up.”

Chapter 6: Surpass Expectations: The chapter includes topics such as The Law of the Second Wind; The Art of Simplicity; Own Your Life; Creative Destruction; Nil Report is a Report. While the author dwells on the need to take full control and responsibility of our life, he is however quick to add: “Taking control of your life is not suggesting that you should undermine the place of benefactors, no man is an island, we all need each other to grow, but do not get to that place where men begin to say to you- If not for me in his life. We all need men to actualise our dreams, but let no one share the glory of God with Him in your life. Our God is a jealous God, no one shares His glory”.

It will appear here that the author’s biblical allusions are a product of the writer’s faith. But then isn’t the Bible replete with so many leadership tips and lessons?

Chapter 7: Delusions: the titles here are Perfection is a Myth; Failure is an Option; Progress is not Speed; Damn It. The author through some practical examples demystifies some self-imposed myths that are capable of limiting growth and fulfilment. “Hold the dream, think big, start small, start now, keep moving, do not stop. It is all in your hands. Perfection is just a myth” (pg 125) on page 135 he writes “Do not let your problem define you, damn it even if for once, to enable you see clearly”. He also warns against subjecting oneself to undue influence via the social media. “This is the new world we have created, where everything looks nice, even before it is made. The virtual world is full of fantasies, only the discerning will be able to focus on reality” (pg 137)

Chapter 8: Embracing the New Normal: The topics here include Mental Health; Health is Wealth; We Need One Another; Choose Your Style; Do Not waste The Crisis.

In this chapter, focus is on the current reality as provided by the Covid-19 global pandemic as well as the importance of staying safe and healthy. Furthermore, the chapter focuses on how to make the best use of the crisis situation. Or what many will call turning adversity to prosperity. “Should we be concerned? Yes, should we be worried? No. why? Worry focuses on the problem, but concern, though acknowledges the problem, focuses on the solution. If the only thing you learn from this crisis is to sit down and think through your relevance post –covid-19, you would have achieved something big.” (pg 158).

Chapter 9: Leadership. Topics include The Lid Factor In Leadership; Leadership Without Stings: hanging the Nigerian Narrative; Active listening; Observing Without Judging, Teaming Redefines. “It is not a must for any leader to know all the ‘hows’ to get things done, but a leader that will take us beyond our present level and transform our national life in the affirmative must be able to think ahead of the rest of us. He must not be the brightest among us, but he must be sound in judgement. It will be good for our leaders to delegate responsibilities when the task to be achieved is clearly spelt out, but delegating thinking to those numerous special advisers may no longer serve our national interest, because some of those appointments have been proven to primarily fulfil federal character principle than advising on good governance” the author points out on page 165.


Chapter 10: Harness Your Society: Invest in Your Social Capital; How Are You; If You Are Against, what Are You For?; A Problem Shared is Still Your Problem: Between Propaganda and Fake News. The importance of social capital investment forms dominant theme of this last chapter of the book.

“A fat account delights any man but avoid the danger of depleting your social capital without replenishment. How many times do we sacrifice relationships on the altar of ego or financial benefit? Money can do all things but relationships that are well nourished can do all things. Invest and keep investing in your social capital” (page 184)

He also adds: “While you should not live your life on hearsay, you may be depleting your social capital when you live your life entirely independent of public opinion. Perception matters, particularly when you do not take any step to correct it. Sometimes, people in addition to you, have a say about who you become.”

‘Perspectives’ is a stand-alone chapter of the book, even though it was not designated as a chapter. It may be safe to describe it as an epilogue. It is a unique offering by the author, as he devotes the portion of the book to taking feedback from members of his immediate family- His wife and four children- on what they consider the key points in leadership. This section, a departure from the 10 chapters where the voice of the author was dominant, focuses on the wife and the children making profound statements on what they perceive as leadership. This section makes an interesting read, especially with the wife and each of the children sharing their own concept of leadership.

The conclusion by the author focuses on parenting in the 21st century, where he posits that the pressure on modern day children is no less than the pressure on modern-day parents.

“Parenting should be a deliberate task. It should not be executed by proxy, and it is a lifelong assignment, even when the children become grown-ups, because the counsel of a parent remains an indispensable asset. That said, if you are a successful parent today, it is by grace, so tarry a little before you label the parent next door a failure.” (pg 205)

In concluding this review, it is important to state that the author practically demonstrates some of the lessons contained in the book. For instance, he writes about the need to make an excellent presentation of one’s ideas and projects. The cover of the book attests to this excellent packaging and presentation, which according to him will compel people to show more than passing interest. The cover is excellently packaged and attracts readers who would, by virtue of that, be curious to read the book.

Again, “Winning Strategies”, as a book attests to the versatility of the writer as the book dwells on so many topics and aspects of life. The book can be said to have something for everybody. The religious minded, professional, youth and student, the highly placed and the lowly placed surely have something to relate with and something to learn from the book.

Benjamin Franklin advises : “If you would not want to be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” Quite unarguably, my friend , the author has chosen both.

The author’s reference to the Meristem television commercial anchored by Nike Davies Okundaye, founder of Nike Art Gallery shows a profound observation that cuts across fields.

Again, as he wrote on page 94, “You do not take credit for your talent, you only take credit for using it and if you don’t use it, you will lose it”. Akin Oluwadare can conveniently take credit for using his creative writing skills.

“Winning Strategies” despite all the accolades is not a perfect work. There is no perfect work of art anywhere in the world. The book sure has its fair share of errors that can be captured in the second or reprint editions. The essay on “The Man Jim Ovia” is replete with unnecessary repetition of the name of the Zenith bank Founder, Mr Jim Ovia countless times in the story that spreads into six pages. This can be better done by interchanging the name with pronoun or other adjectives. Repeating the name “Mr Jim Ovia” is tautological. It shows the author’s seeming overt admiration for his principal, but such can be spared in such a remarkably beautiful essay.

Also, on page 93, the there is a light distortion in the alignment of the printing at the last paragraph. It is curious that this missed the scrutiny of the publishers.

Above all, the book is a great work. The language is simple and lucid. The examples he cites in the book are such that the readers can relate with. The printing font used also makes the book appealing and the author shows a mastery of the art of storytelling, the flow of thought and occasional use of anecdotes as well as literary and biblical allusions makes the book a great a literary work worth sparing precious time to read and digest. It is indeed a must read for leaders in various spheres as well as aspiring leaders – that is the next generation of leaders. The message is sublime and profound, without taking unnecessary swipe at current leaders, which has become quite fashionable among writers. If we are going to fill the leadership gap in our society, there must be conscious efforts to provide leadership education at different levels. This book is a good manual for such trainings.

I congratulate the author, my friend who is also the husband of my friend, Akin Oluwadare Jnr for this second effort, which, no doubt has defined him as a master story teller, life coach and author of very impactful books. May your “Winning Strategies” bring you more wins as it does to the readers!



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Arts & Culture

Achebean Studies: A Tribute And A Syllabus 



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

On September 29 and 30, 2023, some of the most prominent names in the field of African literature will present papers at the Chinua Achebe International Symposium, which also doubles as the 10th memorial celebration of the late sage and central figure of African literature. There will be poetry reading, performances, hosting, and toasting to infuse dynamism and creativity into the feast. His Royal Majesty Igwe Alex Onyido, the Monarch of the Ogidi Kingdom, will be present in his royalty. There are also ambassadors, led by my good friend, Professor Abena Busia. Another major highlight of the event is the Keynote Speaker, His Excellency Peter Obi (now a household name), the recent presidential candidate of the Labour Party and the former Governor of Anambra State. Just as Nnamdi Azikiwe lent his name to the Zikist movement established in 1946, Obi has become an iconic figure of the “Obidient” movement. To Obidients worldwide, Peter should not allow the cock to crow three times!

Prof.Chinua Achebe

As only the deep can call to the deep, only a scholar of Dr. Chika Okeke-Agulu’s calibre can organize a conference this expensive and elaborate. I am sure many already know Chika, but for those who are unfamiliar with him, his brief biography can be found at Chika’s leadership of the Africa World Initiative has been stellar and impressive, in addition to his incredible skill in partnering with the program in African Studies and The Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation.

In my brief presentation on the occasion, which I am releasing now as no one knows tomorrow, I will direct my attention to the dialogue encompassing Achebe’s literary body of work within the framework of global literature to facilitate cross-cultural exchanges and create a platform for discourse that brings the eternal and universal essence of Achebe’s profound perspectives to the forefront. Next year, Bloomsbury will release my long book on this iconic figure, Chinua Achebe: Narrating Africa in Fictions and History. Nothing in this tribute anticipates my long book.

Africa, as we know, is a continent teeming with abundant diversity, intricate historical narratives, and deep intricacies. From the golden sands of the Sahara to the verdant rainforests of the Congo, from the vibrant streets of Lagos to the tranquil vistas of the Maasai Mara, our continent is a rich tapestry interwoven with a multitude of cultures, languages, and customs. However, amidst this kaleidoscope of diversity, a common thread exists that unites us all – our shared past and the guidance that has shaped it. The chronicle of African leadership is as ancient as the continent itself. It is a tale that spans millennia, from the time-honoured realms of Egypt, Mali, and Great Zimbabwe to contemporary nation-states.

Throughout this extensive chronicle, the art of guiding has played a pivotal and transformative role in shaping the course of our destinies, for better or worse. As we stand at the crossroads of a new era, we must thoroughly scrutinize the paths taken by our leaders, the obstacles they encounter, and the prospects that lie ahead. African leadership has emerged as a tapestry interwoven with contradictions in the postcolonial epoch. We have borne witness to visionary leaders who have ardently championed the cause of emancipation, ushering in waves of sanguinity and aspiration. However, we have also observed individuals who, cloaked in the guise of liberation, have fortified their positions of authority, often at the detriment of the same people they pledged to serve. This dichotomy, this inherent tension between the allure of leadership and its frequently tumultuous reality, constitutes the essence of our present discourse and aligns with the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Chinua Achebe’s provocative political treatise, The Trouble with Nigeria.

Personal Tributes

We honour the magnificent literary titan, Chinua Achebe, and commemorate his profound impact on the world. Hailing from the fertile lands of Nigeria, he was a guiding light for Africa, resonating far beyond its borders. Achebe’s brilliance extended far beyond his mere occupation as a writer; he was a masterful storyteller, a profound philosopher, and a protector of our collective memories. Through the eloquent rhythm of his prose, he infused vitality into the ancestral chronicles, painting vibrant tapestries that encapsulated our culture, traditions, and the essence of our shared humanity. The power wielded by Achebe’s pen surpassed that of any sword, challenging and dismantling colonial narratives while offering the world a glimpse into Africa’s soul. From the heart-wrenching downfall of Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart to the intricate political entanglements of A Man of the People, Achebe masterfully captured the intricacies, magnificence, and hardships of a continent teetering on the precipice of transformation. However, beyond the pages of his novels, Achebe emerged as a champion of humanism. He embraced the profound value of each individual’s inherent dignity, the interconnectedness of our shared humanity, and the wondrous ability of narratives to bridge the gaps that divide us.

Prof. Chinua Achebe

In our celebration of Achebe, we do not merely pay tribute to a man but to a legacy—a legacy that serves as a poignant reminder of the potency of language, the significance of our cultural heritage, and the boundless opportunities that open up when we dare to follow our dreams. Although Achebe, the majestic Eagle perched upon the Iroko tree, may have taken his final bow, his tales, sagacity, and unconquerable spirit will eternally soar within the depths of our souls.

In the heart of Africa, a storyteller was born,

Achebe, the voice, when hope seemed forlorn.

With a pen as his spear and paper as his shield,

He painted our stories, and our wounds slowly healed.

From the banks of the Niger to the world’s vast expanse,

He sang of our heroes, our love, and our dance.

In tales of tradition, of gods and goddesses,

He echoed our struggles time and again.

Oh, Chinua, the sage, with wisdom so profound,

Through your words, our history will forever remain.

For in every line and every verse,

You captured our soul, the universe’s diverse.

A beacon of hope, a pillar so tall,

In the annals of time, your legacy won’t fall.

For as long as stories of Africa are told,

Your spirit, dear Achebe, will forever hold.

Rest, great bard, in the land of the free,

Your legacy lives on in hearts like the sea.


Achebe’s Discussions, Scholarships, and Interpolations

Following Professor Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah’s brilliant views on the book The Trouble with Nigeria, he notes that Chinua Achebe expressed strong criticism of Nigeria’s insufficient road network, only to tragically become a victim of a life-altering accident on the same road. In Anthills of the Savannah, Achebe vividly portrays a ruthless military regime willing to sacrifice the citizens’ lives for its interests. According to Na’Allah, Achebe’s prophetic admonitions regarding the Nigerian political landscape remain pertinent, encompassing Nigeria and neighbouring nations. Despite a concise overview, this analysis necessitates attention due to Achebe’s multifaceted role as a political writer, essayist, and activist. Subsequent issues will delve into these facets. This significance arises from Achebe’s post-independence essays, novels, and poems, which offer a perspective through which the unfolding political events in postcolonial Nigeria can be comprehended.

Achebe’s reflections on the condition of postcolonial Africa are intricately intertwined with politics and aesthetics. This interaction constitutes the core of postcolonial aesthetics. As explored in this segment, examining the language matter, thoroughly studied by scholars and writers such as Owomoyela, Bamiro and Uwasomba, is an integral component of postcolonial identity. In “Postcolonial Adaptation and Appropriation in Chinua Achebe,” Anuradha Basu (2015) contends that Achebe’s literary works present postcolonialism as a means of resistance against the dehumanization of Africans. Nonetheless, as Olaniyan posits, Achebe’s approach is marked by moderate resistance, and he offers an alternative viewpoint on postcolonial politics and identity by employing Igbo aesthetics. In Arrow of God, Achebe metaphorically compares the world to a mask dance, and that remaining static deprives one of truly comprehending its essence. This symbolism embodies Achebe’s balanced position, indicating that the identity of postcolonial individuals should incorporate the consequences of historical events and conflicts between cultures, which profoundly impact African people’s psychological and social composition.

Achebe’s literary contributions have played an important role in the extensive collection of African literature that employs stylistic comparative methods by juxtaposing cultural elements from various origins. Central to his works is the examination of the challenges faced by African identity, both during and after interaction with Western cultures. Achebe’s narratives symbolize the profound impact of this encounter on African literature, as they are heavily influenced by the reactions of indigenous Africans to foreign ideologies and values. Nigeria’s complex tapestry of multi-ethnic divisions is a poignant backdrop to Achebe’s exploration of the obstacles to national unity. His writings act as mirrors that reflect the intricacies of the socio-cultural landscape of this nation. Presently, scholars engage with Achebe’s literary creations and the reflections embedded within them. This scholarly endeavour aims to evaluate the accuracy of Achebe’s portrayals and acknowledge any potential shortcomings in his representations.

Beyond this critical examination, the scholarly scrutiny of Achebe’s work is motivated by a desire to appreciate his enduring legacy and continued significance in the African literary panorama and on the continent. Both as a man and a writer, Achebe remains an enduring figure of interest within academia. Consequently, this intense focus on Achebe’s life and literary output has generated a rich research reservoir. These studies comprehensively analyze every facet of the Achebe phenomenon, providing valuable insights into the complexities of African identity and the evolution of African literature. Achebe’s contributions ignited a profound intellectual exploration that continues to shape our understanding of African cultures, identities, and the power of literature as a medium of reflection and transformation.

An Achebe-Inspired Proposal on New Waves and Directions on African Leadership

As we engage in discourse regarding leadership and statecraft in Nigeria and Africa, I am eager to present novel concepts, perspectives, and courses of action to this esteemed gathering. These ideas provide a distinctive framework to examine the intricate nature of African leadership, incorporating insights from historical circumstances and present-day trials.

  • Neo-traditionalism in contemporary leadership

Although Africa boasts a wealth of historical traditional leadership structures, a noteworthy trend is emerging in which modern leaders embrace and adapt these conventional roles to consolidate their authority. This phenomenon of neo-traditionalism entails leaders embracing ancient titles and rituals, not necessarily to honour tradition but to authenticate their governance and appeal to cultural sensibilities. The implications of this trend on democratic processes and institutions in Africa could be profound, necessitating a more comprehensive investigation.

  • The evolution of the “Big Man” syndrome

The “Big Man” syndrome, characterized by leaders wielding centralized power and influence, has been a recurring motif in African leadership. Nevertheless, with the advent of social media and the proliferation of globalized communication, some leaders now utilize these platforms to construct a more contemporary and accessible image while retaining their hold on centralized control. The existence of this duality–embodying the characteristics of a conventional “Big Man” while having the qualities of a contemporary, technology-savvy leader–poses an exceptional difficulty for both governing bodies and opposition movements.

  • The role of women in African leadership

Throughout history, African leadership has predominantly been under the control and influence of the male gender. Nevertheless, there is a growing acknowledgement of the importance of women in assuming leadership positions, be it within the realm of politics or traditional settings. For instance, countries like Rwanda have remarkably progressed in this domain. This discourse could centre around the obstacles that female leaders encounter, the distinctive viewpoints they bring forth, and the societal transformations facilitating this paradigm shift.

  • Postcolonial leadership and the shadow of the past

Following independence, several African leaders positioned themselves as emancipators, liberating their nations from the shackles of colonial domination. Nonetheless, several decades after independence, confident leaders still rely on their liberation credentials to retain their authority, frequently at the expense of democratic processes. The panel could explore the continued influence of colonialism on leadership styles and the expectations placed on leaders in the postcolonial era.

  • Youth movements and the challenge to established leadership

Given that a considerable proportion of Africa’s populace is below 30, a discernible divide is emerging between the established leadership and the younger generation. Instances such as the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria and the protests in Sudan highlight the youth’s discontentment with the existing state of affairs and their yearning for transformation. The panel discussion may delve into the obstacles and prospects engendered by this demographic shift, the aspirations of the younger generation, and how the leadership can adapt and respond to these demands.


New Directions in Achebean Studies 

Achebe, an eminent figure in African literature, has masterfully composed stories that depict the African encounter and reflect the intricacies of human societies. His literary creations, abundant in thematic profundity and narrative artistry, provide a rich fabric of discernment that is simultaneously profound and illuminating.

  • The principle of balance in Achebe’s fiction: The recurring motif in Achebe’s literary works is the principle of balance, which manifests thematically and stylistically. A more intricate depiction emerges when examining the relationship between the direction of balance in Achebe’s fiction and its form and style. As Marjorie Winters notes, Achebe’s narrative style deviates from conventional English usage, introducing elements of “interest, variety, and emphasis.” Although these divergences momentarily impede the narrative’s progression, they contribute to a sense of equilibrium in sentence structure. Critics often interpret this stylistic equilibrium as indicative of “stateliness or formality.” Such a balanced stylistic approach is evident in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, with irregular sentences employed approximately one-third of the time, resulting in a distinctive rhythm and cadence.
  • Ironies of balance: Achebe’s anthology Girls at War, presents diverse narratives that explore the societal shifts and transformations occurring in postcolonial Africa. While thematically bound, these stories testify to Achebe’s command of language and narrative techniques. In praising Achebe’s works, a literary critic has highlighted the notion of balance as a recurring aspect of his fiction. This balance can be observed in various dimensions, ranging from the balanced dualities of the Igbo worldview to the equitable evaluation of characters and situations elicited by his fiction. The stories within this collection, which include the depiction of the Biafran conflict and explorations of tradition and modernity, are imbued with a pervasive sense of equilibrium. However, this equilibrium is frequently tinged with irony, particularly in Achebe’s portrayal of the societal shifts and the erosion of traditional values.
  • Achebe’s narrative techniques: Achebe’s use of narrative techniques extends beyond exploring themes; it exemplifies a masterful demonstration of narrative skill. His utilization of oral and literary narrative techniques results in the creation of a distinctive style of storytelling. This style, characterized by juxtaposing, adding, and aggregating various elements, provides equal significance to each narrative component, thus highlighting their importance.
  • Embracing tradition and modernity: Achebe’s narratives frequently grapple with the inherent conflict between tradition and modernity. These stories place a considerable emphasis on practice and acknowledge the transformative influence of modernity. As one selected excerpt elucidates, “Despite the preoccupation with the thematic content of these stories, I propose that there exists an unnoticed quality within them: a peculiar and subversive manipulation of linguistic symbols, a manipulation that conventional notions of rationality, equilibrium, and moral order have tended to suppress.”


Prof.Chinua Achebe

Drawing upon these insights, it is apparent that Achebe’s literary creations are not merely a mirror image of African societies but also a form of commentary on the human condition. His works offer readers a profound comprehension of the intricacies of life, culture, and history through their intricate fusion of theme and style. Therefore, scholars can uncover the layers of intricacy and subtlety that establish him as one of the most noteworthy writers of the 20th century by examining Achebe’s literary oeuvre through these critical perspectives. Such a multifaceted exploration will enhance the scholarly dialogue surrounding Achebe’s works and give students a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities of African literature and culture.

Moving Forward

At this moment, I propose five new avenues that can be considered in the field of Achebean Studies, which could be advantageous in the Africana Studies curriculum.

Achebe’s critique of Eurocentrism

Achebe’s literary works, particularly Things Fall Apart, can be perceived as a direct response to European literature that inaccurately represents Africa, such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. A more in-depth analysis would entail dissecting Achebe’s narrative techniques undermining the Eurocentric perspective. This endeavour would require a critical examination of how Achebe reclaimed the African narrative, presenting an alternative history that challenges Western perceptions and stereotypes of Africa.


Gender dynamics in a changing society

Although women in his novels may appear subservient at first glance, a more meticulous examination uncovers layers of agency, resilience, and subversion, making his depiction of women multifaceted. A scholarly inquiry can concentrate on the nuanced methods through which women navigate the patriarchal structures of Igbo society, particularly in the presence of colonialism and Christianity. This exploration can illuminate the interconnectedness of gender, colonialism, and tradition.

The tragedy of Okonkwo: A comparative analysis

Okonkwo’s tragic descent can be juxtaposed with the tragic heroes of other civilizations, such as Oedipus or Hamlet. A comparative analysis can delve into the cultural aspects that mould these sad narratives, illuminating the widespread nature of specific human experiences and emphasizing the distinctive cultural contexts that shape them.

Language, power, and identity

Achebe’s decision to write in English while infusing his prose with Igbo proverbs and idioms is an important assertion of language and authority. A critical examination could concentrate on how language in Achebe’s literary works is not merely a means of communication but also a tool of opposition, assertion of identity, and preservation of culture. This will result in more extensive discussions on language politics in postcolonial societies.

The interplay of individual and community

Achebe’s characters often encounter tension between personal desires and communal obligations. A deeper analysis can focus on how Achebe portrays the intricate balance between individual agency and societal expectations. This will shed light on the broader theme of the individual versus society, a conflict that resonates across cultures and periods.

So, with reference to Nigeria, it is not surprising that the immediate consequence of the realistic portrayal and exposition of the inefficiencies of Nigerian politicians and the subtle condemnation of their pseudo-messianic tendencies by prominent post-independent African fiction will emerge. With the country’s increased political instability, African and Nigerian writers, historians, and political scholars have risen correspondingly, diligently delving into political systems, actively documenting unstable political occurrences, and significantly producing works in Administrative Studies. The primary motive and objective behind these professionals’ endeavours in Africa is to elucidate and hopefully raise awareness among the general public about the continent’s political predicaments and anticipate the inevitable instability, crises, and disorder within the African polities.

However, rather than explore the terrains of political scholars in understanding this phenomenon, the choice of focusing on Chinua Achebe is vital, partly because he is one of the foremost Nigerian writers to adequately present political crisis through many lenses from the military regime to war stories, and even democratic settings. Also, Achebe’s restriction to the Nigerian space is captivating, chiefly because of his universal depiction of the size, cultural complexity, and modes of operation unique to the nation, as well as criticizing the Nigerian government and giving voice and agency to citizens who suffered and were silenced by these forces of leadership.

Once again, congratulations to the distinguished Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu for hosting this major gathering. Thanks for organizing what will become conversations across time and space. I now rarely attend conferences except to deliver Keynote Addresses, but this is an invitation that I cannot decline from one of the world’s most prominent art historians, an activist, and also, by any measure, an iconic figure himself.

Thank you!


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Toyin Falola’s New Book, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni And African Decolonial Studies, Explores Decoloniality Discourse



Prof. Toyin Falola’s new book, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni And African Decolonial Studies, is divided into 11 chapters:

Chapter 1: Introduction: Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s Decolonization Vision for the World
Chapter 2: Decolonization and Decoloniality
Chapter 3: Marxism and Decolonization
Chapter 4: Race and African Studies
Chapter 5: Africa’s Liberation
Chapter 6: Zimbabwe in History
Chapter 7: Mugabe and His Politics
Chapter 8: Militarism in Africa
Chapter 9: The Challenges of Higher Education
Chapter 10: Futurity
Chapter 11: An Epilogue: The Future of Decolonial Studies

This book considers the work of the preeminent scholar on decoloniality, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, as a means of examining the development of decoloniality discourse and considering the future direction of the African knowledge economy.

Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni has been instrumental in constructing theories and ideas necessary for advancing a decolonial system of education and epistemology. This book considers how Professor Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s work has helped to shape our thinking both on Mugabe and the history of Zimbabwe, and beyond to the broader questions of race, liberation, higher education, and the future of decolonial studies. Renowned author Professor Toyin Falola then invites us to consider the dangers of continued repression of African epistemologies, and the enormous benefits of an alternative knowledge economy in which a diverse multiplicity of ideas drives our understanding of the world on to new heights.

Unpacking the various conceptual leanings of decoloniality through the works of one of its leading lights, this book will be an essential read for researchers across African Studies, Race Studies, Philosophy, and Education.

Toyin Falola, Ph.D., is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities and University Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of History, The University of Texas at Austin. He is an Extraordinary Professor of Political Science, at the University of Pretoria, Professor of Human Rights, University of the Free State, and Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, Lead City University, Ibadan. He is the recipient of many distinguished awards, including 16 honorary doctorates. He has contributed substantially to decolonization studies, most recently Decolonizing African Studies: Knowledge Production, Agency, and Voice (2022) and Decolonizing African Knowledge: Autoethnography and African Epistemologies (2022).

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Nigerian Writer, Other New Voices Dominate Booker Prize Nominations



A graceful novel about a squash prodigy battling grief on court, a dystopia that reimagines Ireland as a totalitarian state and a coming-of-age tale about a neurodiverse teenager are among 13 titles longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize.

The longlist, announced in a news release on Tuesday, features only a handful of novels by celebrated authors, including Sebastian Barry’s “Old God’s Time,” about a retired policeman confronting painful memories, and Paul Harding’s “This Other Eden,” about a mixed-race community that faces eviction from its island home.

Instead, the list is dominated by works by lesser-known writers, including four debuts. On the list is Nigerian writer Ayòbámi Adébáyò, “A Spell of Good Things”.

The New York Times quoted Esi Edugyan, an author who is the chair of this year’s judges, as saying in the news release that the list was “defined by its freshness — by the irreverence of new voices, by the iconoclasm of established ones.”

Ayobami Adebayo

All the nominated books “cast new light on what it means to exist in our time, and they do so in original and thrilling ways,” Edugyan added.

The four debut books are “If I Survive You,” by Jonathan Escoffery, about a Jamaican family in Miami; “Pearl,” by Sian Hughes, about a mother’s disappearance; “All the Little Bird-Hearts,” by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow, which is told from the perspective of a mother with autism; and “Western Lane,” by Chetna Maroo, about the grieving squash player and her family.

Among the other nominees are “How to Build a Boat,” by Elaine Feeney, about a neurodiverse schoolboy and the teachers who help him, and the forthcoming “Prophet Song,” by Paul Lynch, about an Irish society falling under the grip of authoritarianism.

Founded in 1969, the Booker Prize is one of the world’s most coveted literary awards, given each year to the author of a novel written in English and published in Britain or Ireland. It is often seen as the capstone of a writer’s career, but the award has also regularly made new literary stars. Recent winners have included Bernardine Evaristo, Douglas Stuart and Marlon James.

Last year, the Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka won the prize with “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida,” a satire exploring the trauma of his country’s civil war. After the announcement, the book’s sales jumped to more than 100,000 copies and it has now been translated into 19 languages, the Booker Prize Foundation said in Tuesday’s news release.

This year’s judges will now narrow the longlist down to a six-book shortlist, scheduled to be revealed on Sep. 21. The winning book, whose author will receive a 50,000 pound prize, about $64,000, will be announced at a ceremony in London on Nov. 26.

The full longlist is:

Ayòbámi Adébáyò, “A Spell of Good Things”

Sebastian Barry, “Old God’s Time”

Sarah Bernstein, “Study for Obedience”

Jonathan Escoffery, “If I Survive You”

Elaine Feeney, “How to Build a Boat”

Paul Harding, “This Other Eden”

Siân Hughes, “Pearl”

Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow, “All the Little Bird-Hearts”

Paul Lynch, “Prophet Song”

Martin MacInnes, “In Ascension”

Chetna Maroo, “Western Lane”

Paul Murray, “The Bee Sting”

Tan Twan Eng, “The House of Doors”

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