Darren Kew, a professor of conflict resolution at UMass Boston’s John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies delivered the keynote speech in Nigeria as part of the global celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of Chinua Achebe’s classic novel, Arrow of God.
The symposium, “Literature, Leadership and National Unity,” took place at the University of Ibadan on Friday, March 21 and Kew spoke on “Civil Society, Political Opposition, and Democracy Building.” He is an expert on inter-religious conflict who has worked closely with Paster James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Nurayn Ashafa to build peace in Kaduna, Nigeria. He is also the author of the book, Classrooms of Democracy? Civil Society, Conflict Resolution, and Building Democracy in Nigeria, due out later this year by Syracuse University Press.
“I was honored to accept this prestigious invitation to kick off a series of worldwide events paying tribute to Chinua Achebe, one of Nigeria’s greatest writers and moral voices, who passed away last year,” Kew said.
In writing about his death last March, the New York Times called Achebe an “African literary titan” and a “towering man of letters whose internationally acclaimed fiction helped to revive African literature and to rewrite the story of a continent that had long been told by Western voices.”
Written in 1964, The Arrow of God is the second political and cultural novel in what is often referred to as The African Trilogy. Set in the 1920s, the plot revolves around the conflict between Christian missionaries and British colonial authorities.
Achebe has written more than twenty books and the first part of the trilogy, Things Fall Apart (1958), has been translated into fifty languages and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Considered as Achebe’s magnum opus, this book went on to become not only the most widely read book in modern African literature but a classic of world literature as well.
Learn more about Kew's work at the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development.