Press Release

Chinua Achebe Named Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations Population Fund

07 January 1999

New York -- The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today appointed renowned Nigerian author Chinua Achebe as a Goodwill Ambassador.

Mr. Achebe is regarded by many as the "father of modern African literature". His books Things Fall Apart (1958) and No Longer at Ease (1960) marked a new era in African writing and sold millions of copies around the world.

"I am delighted to have been appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Population Fund," said Mr. Achebe, speaking at a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. "I am a strong supporter of the United Nations and its agencies and of the work of the Population Fund in reproductive health and gender equity."

"I think we who are comfortable often take things like health care and family planning for granted and we forget about the people who are in difficulty, they seem rather remote, but that shouldn't be so. It is those who have difficult lives that we should be concerned about," he said.

Mr. Achebe is currently Charles Stevenson Professor of Literature at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

"We are honoured to have Mr. Achebe as a Goodwill Ambassador for the Population Fund," said Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of the Fund. "His standing as a legend of African writing makes him a wonderful representative for the work of the Fund, especially in Africa. We look forward very much to working with him to promote the responsibilities and rights of men and women everywhere in regard to reproductive health care."

As a Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Achebe will represent the Fund at a number of events taking place this year. These include the 30 June-2 July United Nations General Assembly special session, which will review progress in the five years since the International Conference on Population and Development; and the Day of Six Billion on 12 October, marking the growth of world population to more than 6 billion.

Mr. Achebe was born in 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. He attended University College, Ibadan (1948-53); London University, B.A. (1953). He studied broadcasting at the British Broadcasting Corporation, London (1956). He worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, Lagos (1954-57), and founded Voice of Nigeria (1961-66). He was a senior research fellow at the

University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1967-72) and professor of English there (1976-81). He was Regents' lecturer at the University of California at Los Angeles (1984) and professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (1987-88). He was Cambridge University, Clare Hall, visiting fellow and Ashby lecturer (1993).

The United Nations Population Fund is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance. Over the past 30 years, the Fund has provided $4.3 billion in assistance to more than 160 countries. The Fund' s priority programme areas are reproductive health, population and development strategies, and advocacy.

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031

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