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Tag: obituary (1-2 of 2)

Maya Angelou: Saying goodbye to a literary giant

Maya Angelou — the trailblazing and award-winning poet and memoirist — has died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at the age of 86. Her son Guy  B. Johnson, who survives her along with several grandchildren, said in a statement, “Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”

She was born Marguerite Ann Johnson (her nickname, “Maya,” was bestowed by her older brother) on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis. After her parents split when she was 3, Angelou was sent to live with her paternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. It was when she returned to her mother and St. Louis a few years later that a series of traumas began: at the age of 8, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She went to her older brother, who alerted the rest of the family. The man was arrested and convicted, though he was murdered before serving any time in jail. Angelou assumed that he had been killed by her uncles, and the young girl didn’t speak for years afterwards. “I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name,” she wrote in 1969’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing. READ FULL STORY

Chinua Achebe, author of 'Things Fall Apart,' dies at age 82

Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian author, activist, and teacher, has died at 82 following a brief illness.

Achebe graduated from the University College of Ibadan, in 1953 and afterward worked as a Nigerian radio broadcaster. In his twenties, he began work on what would become the defining work of his career — and a continent: Things Fall Apart, published in 1958.

It’s almost impossible to overstate the effect of the book, which as become, in the more than 50 years since publication, the archetype for African fiction and a fountainhead for postcolonial literature. African scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah has said, “It would be impossible to say how Things Fall Apart influenced African writing. It would be like asking how Shakespeare influenced English writers or Pushkin influenced Russians.”

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