OGIDI, the headquarters of Idemili North local government area of Anambra State and home town of deceased literary giant, Professor Chinua Achebe, was quiet, Sunday, even as members of his kindred said they would convene a meeting this week to formally announce his death to the people.
Achebe’s country home, which was under lock last week, was open, yesterday, and few people were seen in mournful mood. According to one of the elders in the area, Achebe was a member of the traditional cabinet of the town, adding that though they believed what they read in the media that he was dead, they were still waiting for his children to formally inform them of their father’s death as the custom of Ogidi demanded to kick-start the burial ceremony.
Meanwhile, a large stream of tributes continued to flow for the legendary author and poet, who died on Friday in Boston, United States of America.
Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson said he and Bayelsa citizenry would continue to draw inspiration from Achebe, whom he described as an acclaimed writer, activist, unblemished and strong advocate of a better Nigeria
Commiserating with the government and people of Anambra State as well as the immediate family of literary icon, Dickson, in a tribute, eulogized Achebe for his towering legacies and accomplishments as a world acclaimed writer and activist.
“Through his creative and intellectual disposition as epitomized in his many literary presentations, many people around the world have come to recognize the reputation of Nigeria as not only a giant in itself, but also a nation of giants in many fields of human endeavour. As a government, as a state and as a people, we will continue to draw inspiration from your wonderful legacies, accomplishments and deep-rooted conviction and vision for an egalitarian Nigeria,” he said.
Anambra State Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Chris Eluomuno said Nigeria and the literary world had lost a great man. He said Ohanaeze would issue a statement on the death of Achebe after due consultations.
The senator representing Anambra South, Dr. Andy Ubah, in a tribute said Nigeria had lost a great mind, adding that his life and time would continue to be a source of inspiration to humanity.
Chairman of the Board of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism,WSCIJ, Prof. Ropo Sekoni, said the death of Achebe is a major loss to humanity. “Achebe was a man who brought colonial Africa into the consciousness of the modern world. He was a man of his words, who stood for the truth and by his race. He did his best to shot the Igbo race into the intellectual limelight. The books he wrote: ‘Things Fall Apart’ and ‘Arrow of God’ are the kind of master pieces generations will read for so many centuries.”
Immortalise his legacy with democracy, good governance – Ikokwu
Second Republic politician and one of the founders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Guy Ikokwu, described Achebe as “an African literary and arts icon of great reputation. He is one of the few black writers whose works had been translated into over 50 languages and read by the young and old generations in countries with different cultural backgrounds.
“As a renowned author and novelist his first work in 1958 was Things Fall Apart which is read in schools and homes to this day. Leaders who want to understand the cultural transformation in Africa read this book and his other works. American Presidents and British Prime Ministers like Carter, Clinton, Wilson and Blair read his works to understand Africa better.
“African leaders like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nelson Mandela, Sedar Senghor, Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda and millions of African children are abreast with his works which include No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God, while his latest work an auto biography with the background of the Biafran Civil War in Nigeria – There was a Country – re-launched him into the diversity of past and present day Nigeria.
“Like Soyinka and other distinguished writers and intellectuals Achebe was noted over the decades for his odious of militarism and bad governance in Nigerian and Africa. He rejected several offers by the Nigerian government for national honours and awards.
“He will be physically missed but his works will continue to enrich the African culture and academy, but the greatest tribute to his legacy will be democracy and good governance. “The Federal and state governments should immortalize Achebe for his glorious achievements for Africa and Nigerians should mourn his demise.”
Okorocha, Imo speaker, cleric speak
Governor Rochas Okorocha, Speaker Benjamin Uwajumogu, and Catholic cleric, Monsignor Theophilus Okere, said Achebe’s death was not only a blow to Ndigbo and the country but also the international community of writers and academics.
Okorocha said: “Achebe’s death has created a wide vacuum in the literary world”, adding that his internationally acclaimed literary works, constructive criticism and uncompromising war against social malpractices would not be forgotten in a hurry.
Monsignor Okere said Achebe was a trail blazer who probably did not know the epic level his Things Fall Apart would hit.
Similarly, the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Mr. Benjamin Uwajumogu, said Achebe’s death was a huge loss to lovers of knowledge.
“Professor Chinua Achebe was the professor of professors and a foremost social crusader of our time. With his death, things have finally fallen apart,” Uwajumogu said.
I’ve lost a personal hero – Akunyili
Former Minister of Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, said she had lost her hero. In a statement by her special assistant (Media), Mr. Isaac Umunna, she said: “Chinua Achebe was not only from my state Anambra, he was also one of my heroes and role models right from my days at the University of Nigeria Nsukka where he taught.
“I therefore feel a deep sense of personal loss by his death. It is like losing a part of me. Prof. Achebe’s death leaves a void not only in Nigeria and Africa but globally because he is one of the best novelists the world has ever produced,” she said.
Let’s imbibe his virtues – Ashafa
Senator Gbenga Bareehu Ashafa, (ACN, Lagos East), said the death of Professor Achebe is a colossal loss to Nigeria, in particular, and the world in general, saying that the best way to immortalize him is to imbibe his great virtues.
In his condolence, Ashafa said: “Achebe was an embodiment of great values most Nigerians crave for, an exemplary character. Let us celebrate him. The best way to immortalize him is to imbibe his virtues and what he stood for. He died when he was most needed in fortifying the Nigeria project. Achebe could be put in the class of Williams Shakespeare, former President of US, J.F Kennedy, among other great men of the world”.
NLC, NUTGTWN pay tributes
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, said the world had lost a global literary and cultural icon, a foremost nationalist and father of African literature.
In a statement by its Acting President, Comrade Promise Adewusi, the NLC said Chinua Achebe “set the tone and direction of African literature, capturing in the process the total African experience: from pre-colonial and colonial periods through decolonisation and its discontents to national ferments, disillusionment and alienation.
Although better known for his novels, Achebe was an unusual master craftsman who distinguished himself in all the genres of literature. He was an essayist, poet, playwright and critic, who was unrelenting in his criticism against injustice, oppression, corruption and other vices in the society. He captivated the world with his simple narrative as well as inspired generations of African writers who took pride in their cultures”.
Also, the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, described the late Achebe as an upbeat patriot and a pan-African optimist at a time it was risky and unpopular to do so, saying Chinua Achebe almost single-handedly liberated Africa culturally.
Achebe is a global icon— ACN
Also the ACN paid a glowing tribute to Achebe, describing him as a global icon for all time and an outstanding Nigerian brand.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party described Achebe’s death as a monumental loss not only to Nigeria but also to the entire world.
It said that apart from his rarefied achievements in the literary field and his scholarly excellence, Prof. Achebe was a nationalist, not minding the controversy generated by his last book, “There was a country,’’ hence the prominence given to the news of his death by newspapers and other media organisations across the country.
“Prof. Achebe’s nationalist and democratic credentials were unassailable. He loved Nigeria with a passion and used the platform offered by his global exposure to call attention, time and again, to the years of misrule in his homeland, which must have left a gaping hole in his heart till he breathed his last.
“Prof. Achebe stuck to his calling all through his life, and yet achieved a global acclaim. Less er beings would have leveraged their achievements to join the fat cats on the boards of huge companies, smiling to the bank all the way. Lesser beings would have curried favour from the government of the day, irrespective of its record.
ACN said the best tribute that can be paid to Prof. Achebe is not just in naming monuments after him or tarring the road that passed through his hometown. It said: “He can best be honoured and remembered by those who hold power using it for the common good of the greatest number of people, and by making Nigeria a country that every black man on earth will be proud of. There can be no greater honour.’’
His demise is great loss to literary world – Ogon
The Founding Director of Ijaw Council for Human Rights, ICHR, Patterson Ogon, said Achebe’s demise was a great loss to the literary world.
“The death of Prof Chinua Achebe is a great loss not just to Nigeria but the literary world. A man of letters, his death for me is only physical as he has left a lot on the minds and heart of people not to be remembered. The controversy stirred by his 2012 publication, There was a Country demonstrates his deep thoughts and sad reflections on the opportunities we have failed to explore to remake Nigeria. The Trouble with Nigeria remains one of the most concise, analytic and thought provoking literature on the challenge of governance in Nigeria. Achebe is dead but he remains a man of the future.”
Give him national burial – BNC
The Benin National Congress, BNC, a Benin socio-cultural organization, appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to give Achebe a national burial in recognition of his uprightness and patriotism to the nation.
In a statement by its President, Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo, the BNC reasoned that a befitting burial for Achebe would help build a legacy of effective reward system for Nigeria, so that the younger generations will be inclined to patriotic service and pursuit of excellence in their chosen professions or business.
It called for ‘A Chinua Achebe’s Day’ where public institutions will be on duty for half day “in honour of this rare intellect and genius of all time. This is aside a national burial that will embellish his soul after selfless, tireless, relentless and unwavering commitments to the liberation of the minds of the average African from cultural and economic imperialism of some conflict-oriented western elites.”
He will live on in our hearts—OATUU
The Organisation of African Trade Union Unity, OATUU, in a statement by its Secretary General, Comrade Owei Lakemfa said the passing away of the famous writer, essayist and pro-people activist has left the African working people in grief.
The statement said the union “mourns the loss of this literary colossus and great African mind who told the African story, laced with rich proverbs, in beautiful, flowing prose.
“A pioneer of the African novel and of the rich African Writers Series, Achebe promoted African culture, and rejected colonial and neo-colonial constructs to tell the African experience from the prism of the African people themselves.
“A master story teller and wordsmith, Achebe was, and is, a huge iroko tree in the forest of African and world literature. That he was not awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature despite his monumental works, including Things Fall Apart which has been translated to over 50 languages, is a minus for that prize.
“Achebe had a strong fighting spirit, was a fearless spokesperson for the poor and courageously, spoke the truth. Despite his monumental achievements in literature, he remained humble; did not wear his fame like pips on his shoulder or as medals on his chest.
“Professor Achebe will never die the hearts of people; over the generations, people who read his books will continue to be educated about Africa, and young Africans will continue to learn that in our continent, “Proverbs are the palm- oil with which words are eaten”.