According to a statement by the presidential spokesman, Mr Mac Maharaj, Zuma expressed his deepest condolences onwhat he called “the sad passing away of the distinguished Nigerian author’’.
“I have learnt with great sadness of the passing away of this colossus of African writing. Chinua Achebe was Nigeria’s and indeed Africa’s greatest literary export and a legend of African literature.
“It was in his famous novel `Things Fall Apart’ that many Africans saw themselves in literature and arts at the time when most of the writing was about Africans but not by Africans. Africa owes a debt of gratitude to the writer, Achebe.
“On behalf of the South African government and all her people, we wish to send our deepest condolences to the Achebe family, his home country, Nigeria and the whole literary community,” Zuma said.
Also, another Nigerian author, Professor . Kole Omotoso, described the death of Achebe as big surprise and sad development.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Johannesburg on Friday that the death of Achebe was unexpected.
“I know people may be wondering why I said his death is unexpected and sad at the age of 82. But this is because he was strong and still witty. He was also contributing to national discourse.
“His death is a great loss to Nigeria, Africa and the literary world. We have indeed lost an important icon,’’ Omotoso said.
He said Achebe would be remembered for his pioneer position in confronting the western world about the neo-colonialism of Africa.
“We have lost a voice that was insistent in fighting corruption. He was a strong advocate of fighting corruption.
He demonstrated that by refusing the national honour on two occasions, because of his non- acceptance of the government in power,’’ Omotoso said.
Omotoso was Secretary-General of the Association of Nigeria Authors (ANA) when Achebe was the president.
Achebe died on Thursday in Boston, in the U.S at the age of 82.