‘Things Fall Apart’ author Chinua Achebe dies

(CNN) – Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, acclaimed in part for his groundbreaking 1958 novel “Things Fall Apart,” has died, his British publisher, Penguin Books, said Friday.

He was 82.

An author of more than 20 books, his honors included the 2007 Man Booker International Prize for Fiction.

He was also accorded his country’s highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award.

Achebe is a major part of African literature, and is popular all over the continent for his novels, especially “Anthills of the Savannah,” which was itself shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987, and “Things Fall Apart.”

The latter was required reading in countless high schools and colleges in the continent, and has been translated into dozens of languages.

Set in precolonial Nigeria, “Things Fall Apart” portrays the story of a farmer, Okonkwo, who struggles to preserve his customs despite pressure from British colonizers. The story resonated in post-independent Africa, and the character became a household name in the continent.

Achebe’s stories included proverbs and tackled complex issues of African identity, nationalism and decolonization, adding to his books’ popularity.

He once wrote an essay criticizing Joseph Conrad, author of “Heart of Darkness,” as a racist for his depiction of Africans as savages. Conrad’s popularity took a hit after the accusation — a testament to Achebe’s credibility.

He also criticized corruption and poor governance in Africa, and had been known to reject accolades by the Nigerian government to protest political problems.

Penguin Books’ Twitter feed said: “Chinua Achebe: a brilliant writer, and a giant of African literature. Nelson Mandela said he ‘brought Africa to the rest of the world’. RIP.”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan issued a statement paying tribute to Achebe as “Nigeria’s globally acclaimed writer, scholar, tutor, cultural icon, nationalist and artist of the very first rank.”

While Achebe will be greatly missed, Jonathan said, he will live on in the minds of present and future generations through his great works.

He added that Achebe’s “frank, truthful and fearless interventions in national affairs will be greatly missed at home … because while others may have disagreed with his views, most Nigerians never doubted his immense patriotism and sincere commitment to the building of a greater, more united and prosperous nation that all Africans and the entire black race could be proud of.”

Biafran War

Born in Nigeria in 1930, Achebe was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, according to a biography posted by Penguin.

He was an early graduate of the respected University of Ibadan, established in Nigeria before the end of British colonial rule in 1960.

He worked in radio but in 1966 left his post during the national upheaval that led to the bloody Biafran War, in which Nigeria’s southeastern provinces attempted to secede.

Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra on diplomatic and fund-raising missions before the civil war came to an end after two and a half years.

He subsequently took up university posts in Nigeria and overseas, including teaching at Bard College in New York and Brown University in Rhode Island, where he was professor of Africana Studies.
Achebe’s 2012 memoir, “There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra,” draws on his recollections of that painful period in Nigeria’s past.

In an interview for the Paris Review of Books in 1994, Achebe spoke of how his early love of stories led him to realize that they reflected only the point of view of the white man. That spurred him to write himself.

“There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. … Once I realized that, I had to be a writer. I had to be that historian,” he said.

“It’s not one man’s job. It’s not one person’s job. But it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the travail — the bravery, even, of the lions.”

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President Barack Obama’s look alike Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni cast as satan in History channel’s ‘ The Bible’

SOCIAL media platforms erupted on Sunday night when US TV viewers noted an alarming similarity between President Barack Obama and an actor playing the Devil.

Thousands of the 13.1 million viewers of The Bible commented on social media platforms on the resemblance of actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni to the 44th President of the United States.

Interest was piqued when right-wing commentator and radio-host Glenn Beck tweeted: “Anyone else think the Devil in #TheBible Sunday on History Channel looks exactly like That Guy?

Barack Obama’s limousine breaks down in Israel

One of US President Barack Obama’s limousines has broken down in Israel.

The black, heavily guarded limousine experienced mechanical problems in Tel Aviv before Mr Obama landed in the country for a state visit.

Media reports said the vehicle was mistakenly filled with diesel rather than petrol.

The disabled limo was swapped for a back-up, and Mr Obama’s busy itinerary in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on Wednesday was not affected.

“This is why we bring multiple vehicles and a mechanic on all trips,” US Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said in a statement.

“Situations like this are planned for extensively by our advance teams so that the President’s itinerary is unaffected by these types of issues.” 

The US President arrived in the Middle East on Wednesday for a three-day tour of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

It is his first trip to the region since he first took office in 2009.
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New pope urges Church to return to its Gospel roots

In his first public Mass, Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church on Thursday to stick to its Gospel roots and shun modern temptations, warning that it would become just another charitable group if it forgot its true mission.

In a heartfelt, simple homily, the Argentinian pope laid out a clear moral path for the 1.2-billion-member Church, which is beset by scandals, intrigue and strife.

Addressing cardinals in the frescoed Sistine Chapel the day after his election there, Jorge Bergoglio said the Church should be more focused on the Gospels of Jesus Christ.

“We can walk all we want, we can build many things, but if we don’t proclaim Jesus Christ, something is wrong. We would become a compassionate NGO and not a Church which is the bride of Christ,” he said, speaking in Italian without notes.

The first non-European pope in 1,300 years, Bergoglio’s initial steps suggested he would bring a new style to the papacy, favoring humility and simplicity over pomp, grandeur and ambition among its top officials.

Whereas his predecessor, Pope Benedict, delivered his first homily in Latin, laying out his broad vision for the Church, Francis adopted the tone of parish priest, focusing on faith.

“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly,” he told the massed ranks of cardinals clad in golden vestments.

“We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord,” he added.

Earlier, Pope Francis had quietly slipped out of the Vatican to pray for guidance at one of Rome’s great basilicas before returning briefly to a Rome hostel, where he had left his bags before entering the secret conclave on Tuesday.

Francis, who has a reputation for frugality and an understated lifestyle, insisted on paying the bill. “He was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do,” a Vatican spokesman said.

Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, who lives in the same residence in the winding backstreets of central Rome, told Reuters: “I don’t think he needs to worry about the bill. This house is part of the Church and it’s his Church now.”

GOOD HEALTH

The new pontiff has postponed for a few days a trip to the papal summer retreat south of Rome, to meet Benedict, who last month became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down, saying that at 85 he was too frail to lead the troubled Church.

Francis is, at 76, older than many other contenders for the papacy and his age was one of several big surprises about the selection of the Argentine cardinal. The Vatican said on Thursday he was “in very good shape” despite having a lung partially removed more than 50 years ago.

Bergoglio is the first Jesuit pope, an order traditionally dedicated to serving the papacy, and the first to take the name Francis in honor of the 12th-century Italian saint from Assisi who spurned wealth to pursue a life of poverty.

No Vatican watchers had expected the conservative Argentinian to get the nod, and some of the background to the surprise vote began trickling out on Thursday.

French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard told reporters: “We were looking for a pope who was spiritual, a shepherd. I think with Cardinal Bergoglio, we have this kind of person. He is also a man of great intellectual character who I believe is also a man of governance.”

Ricard added that what Bergoglio said during cardinals’ meetings before the conclave also impressed the 114 electors.

Despite never having been tipped for success, Austria Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said the Argentinian was clearly popular amongst the so-called princes of the Church from the start.

“Cardinal Bergoglio wouldn’t have become pope in the fifth ballot, if he had not been a really strong contender for the papacy from the beginning,” he said.

Morale among the faithful has been hit by a widespread child sex abuse scandal and in-fighting in the Church government or Curia, which many prelates believe needs radical reform.

Francis is seen as a Church leader with the common touch and communications skills, in sharp contrast with Benedict’s aloof intellectual nature.

The new style was immediately on display on Wednesday as he took his first tentative steps as pontiff into the public gaze, addressing cheering crowds gathered in the cobbled esplanade beneath St. Peter’s Basilica.

“I ask a favor of you … pray for me,” he urged the crowds, telling them the 114 other cardinal-electors “went almost to the end of the world” to find a new leader.

CHANGE OF DIRECTION

Bergoglio’s election answered some fundamental questions about the direction of the Church in the coming years.

After more than a millennium of European leadership, the cardinal-electors looked to Latin America, where 42 percent of the world’s Catholics live. The continent is more focused on poverty and the rise of evangelical churches than questions of materialism and sexual abuse, which dominate in the West.

Italian media commentators said on Thursday the power of the Italian voting bloc amongst the cardinals, nearly a quarter of the total, had been undermined by the “Vatileaks” scandal that revealed turmoil and corruption inside the Curia.

This reduced the chances of election of one of the front runners, Milan Archbishop Angelo Scola.

Italian bishops had egg on their faces on Thursday after it was revealed that they sent congratulations to Scola, assuming he had been chosen, just after Bergoglio appeared at the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica following his election.

Bergoglio was born into a family of seven, his father an Italian immigrant railway worker and his mother a housewife. He became a priest at 32, a decade after losing a lung due to respiratory illness and quitting his chemistry studies. He has a reputation as someone willing to challenge powerful interests and has had a sometimes difficult relationship with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and her late husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner.

Displaying his conservative orthodoxy, he has spoken out strongly against gay marriage, denouncing it in 2010 as “an attempt to destroy God’s plan,” and is expected to pursue the uncompromising moral teachings of Benedict and John Paul II, but with a great concern for the poor and social problems.

According to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Francis raised gales of laughter from fellow cardinals at a relaxed dinner after his election, telling them: “May God forgive you.”

At the Basilica of St. Francis in the Italian town of Assisi, the monks were overjoyed at Francis’s choice of name. One of them, Father Guillermo Spirito, said he was also from Argentina.

“I have great admiration for his great humility, his simple, everyman manner. The last time I was with him was in 2010 and he told me that St. Francis was a paradigm of how to live the gospel,” he told Reuters.

Francis’ inaugural Mass will be held on Tuesday.

Reuters

By fairrose Posted in NEWS

BENNY HINN REMARRIES HIS FORMER WIFE

Televangelist Benny Hinn and his wife Suzanne remarried on Sunday at the Holyland Experience in Orlando, Fla. in front of a thousand people.
“Thank you for praying for Suzanne and me! It is because of your prayers, intercession and love, that we are where we are today,” Pastor Hinn said on his Facebook page, thanking well-wishers.
The Examiner reported that the ceremony was open to the congregation and spectators, drawing close to a thousand people who showed up to give their well-wishes to the formerly divorced couple.
“The audience was inspired and comforted at the fact that God has brought these two back together again more powerful than ever,” The Examiner reported.
The long-awaited remarriage was officiated by Pastor Jack Hayford and renowned evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, who is a German charismatic preacher known for his ministry outreach in Africa.
The couple had been separated since 2010, with the prosperity gospel preacher revealing that several problems had split them apart – including Suzanne’s struggles with drug dependency and Benny Hinn’s hectic schedule that pulled him away from his family for extended periods of time.
In a blog post on his website, the pastor revealed that the reconciliation process began on Christmas 2011, during a family holiday get-together in Florida, where he and Suzanne were surrounded by their children and grandchildren.
“It was a beautiful day I will never forget, and that is when the Lord began to do His mighty work in our hearts-individually and together,” Hinn explained.
“Since that time, as Sue and I have submitted to godly counsel and oversight to ensure our past mistakes will not be repeated, God has worked so mightily in our midst. The love we shared as a young couple has been restored beyond anything we could have imagined.”
Benny Hinn Ministries, located in Grapevine, Texas, has been scrutinized for their faith-healing promise and prophecy telling claims. Hinn was also the subject of a 2007 Senate investigation of the financial dealings of several high-profile prosperity preachers, and is considered a controversial figure by many.
The Hinns had been married for 30 years before their split in 2010, and have three daughters and a son, Joshua. The 21-year old son was recently questioned by law enforcement officials during an evangelical trip in Brazil for allegedly beating up a deaf and mute man, but at the end was allowed to return to the U.S. with no charges filed.

The Christian Post

By fairrose Posted in NEWS