Around the globe: Achebe’s demise and the days of Forests and Water

Last week we lost one of the World’s greatest storytellers of our time in one great son of Africa, the late literary icon Chinua Achebe of Ogidi village, Eastern Nigeria.

As a true African at heart it would pass as the greatest form of injustice on my part not to dedicate a portion of this segment to the glorification of Achebe’s literary prowess and contribution towards the Africanisation of post-colonial Africa. So allow me to scribble a few lines about one of my greatest sources of literary inspiration who is now no longer with us, but whose work will forever inspire even the future generations of African children and the world at large.

The great Achebe authored over 20 books primarily dedicated to telling the African story through an African eye or as we conventionally call it, an African perspective. And to show how impactful his work was, for a long time – and I want to believe to a large extent even now – if one mentioned the phrase “things fall apart” anywhere across the African continent he/she could, with the highest degree of certainty, be sure that Achebe’s name/book would be the first thing on his/her listener’s mind.

“Things Fall Apart” is by no means Achebe’s greatest literary work. And this is not to say his other books are any literary underdogs. If you want a feel of some real African life and culture, not the one you see or read about in the international media; not the one you’re told by your westernized African colleagues here on campus; but the real deal most of which sadly has now gone with ‘modernization’, I would recommend “Things Fall Apart” for a start, and if you don’t pick the next available Achebe’s book after you’re through with “Things Fall Apart” then drop me a note below this post and I’ll buy you lunch. What I am trying to say is Achebe’s work is magically irresistible. You will always want more and more of it.

At 82, he goes to rest as a true African hero. May his soul rest in peace. Amen!

On to the environmental front, I gathered a few important news tidbits that I wish to share with you guys.

How many of you knew that the World marked the first ever International Day of Forests last week? Well, this happened on Thursday last week and in his message the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon reiterated the importance of forest ecosystem to life on Earth even as he also articulated that there are several threats to this ecosystem as urbanization and large-scale agriculture can exacerbate the rate of forest and biodiversity loss. Key was also the call for the need to intensify forest protection efforts, including by incorporating them into the post-2015 development agenda and the sustainable development goals.

The International Day of Forests came to existence through a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and is primarily aimed at celebrating and raising awareness on the importance of forests. March 21, according to the resolution, was set aside as the day this event will be marked on an annual basis across the World. It follows the same conceptual framework that informed the formation of such others as World Water Day (March 22) and World Environment Day (June 5) etc.

Hot on the heels of the International Day of Forests, World Water Day was marked last Friday just a day after the former.

Some have argued that water will dominate world natural resource politics by the end of the twenty-first century much as oil dominated the late twentieth century. Whether that would come to pass I leave to time. But what is certain is that, water scarcity is growing across the globe. The reasons for concern are summed up in the Worldwatch Institute’s (WI) Vital Signs report: “Some 1.2 billion people — almost one fifth of the world — live in areas of physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face what can be called economic water shortage.”

Potable water has increasingly become harder to come by especially in developing economies like Sub-Saharan African countries. And even more fundamental, ‘the global water crisis isn’t just about simple supply and demand — it’s an issue related to women’s rights, global development and preventable deaths.’

Finding a lasting solution to the world water crisis requires cooperation at the highest level of governments and amongst other major players including corporations and local communities. It is in recognition of the foregoing fact that ‘cooperation’ was chosen as the theme for this year’s World Water Day celebrations. The impact of the UN’s declaration of 2013 as the international year of water cooperation is as much your concern as it is mine.

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