News, Culture & Society

Chinua Achebe is celebrated in a Google Doodle 

The Google Doodle for November 16th celebrates Chinua Achebe, the renowned Nigerian author, on what would have been his 87th birthday.

Who is Chinua Achebe?

Born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on 16th November, 1930 to Protestant convert parents in the Nigerian Igbo village of Ogidi, Chinua Achebe is considered to be the father of Africa’s modern literature.

 Novelist Chinua Achebe pictured speaking at Asbury Hall (Wikipedia/Stuart C. Shapiro)

Excelling academically from an early age, Achebe won a scholarship to study medicine at university. It was there, having been exposed to more European literature, that Achebe became deeply disturbed by its colonial representation of Africa. In his later teachings Achebe would describe Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness, as a ‘thoroughgoing racist’ and a man ‘obsessed with the physicality of the negro’.

Choosing to write in English, Achebe confronted this type of narrative with stories that put Nigeria, the continent and its people at their heart. His novel Things Fall Apart explore life in a Nigeria that is undergoing seismic political, cultural and generational changes. Characters that so often served stereotypical, bit-part roles in Western literature were suddenly the protagonists, exploring their humanity in a postcolonial world.

Chinua Achebe is celebrated in a colourful and creative  Doodle(Google)

Chinua Achebe is celebrated by Google in another colourful and creative Doodle (Google)

In celebrating Achebe, the Google Doodle notes, “his pen brought to life the land and traditions of the Igbo: the hum of everyday village life.”

Chinua Achebe died on March 21st 2013, aged 82, in Boston after a short illness.

What is a Google Doodle?

Google Doodles are the search engine’s way of celebrating cultural events. Every day, the Google logo on the homepage is changed to mark a significant cultural that happened on that day. It didn’t use to be an every-day thing, but users quickly responded positively to the frequent changes to the homepage.

 Chinua Achebe's life celebrated in the earlier concepts of the Google Doodle (Google)

 Chinua Achebe’s life celebrated in the earlier concepts of the Google Doodle (Google)

The very first Google Doodle was drawn by Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1998. It was of a stick man behind the second ‘o’ of Google to mark the founders’ trip to that year’s Burning Man Festival.

Today, there is a team of ‘Doodlers’ – illustrators, graphic designers, animators and artists who produce the Google Doodles. The logos are hyperlinked to give users more information about the cultural event.

The Google Doodle for November 15th, celebrated the life of Cornelia Sorabji, India’s first female lawyer, on what would have been her 150th birthday.