BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
LAGOS — NIGERIANS in the United Kingdom, will hold a memorial service and cultural reception for late literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe on May 18 in London as part of global farewell activities for the literary legend.
Professor Achebe’s body will arrive Abuja May 12, sparking off a series of festivities that will continue until his final interment in Ogidi, Anambra State on May 23.
The programme is being organised by the United Kingdom chapter of Nigerians in the Diaspora in conjunction with his family, the High Commission and the wider literary world. The activities will kick off with a memorial service at All Saints Cathedral, New Cross, London, which will be presided over by the Bishop of Southwark.
Ubaka Alex Achebe, a family spokesman, said: “Apart from the Bishop of Southwark, the Bishops of Woolwich and London will also be there. There will be several cannons and vicars coming too, so we are expecting about a dozen clergymen.
“After the service, guests will be treated to an evening of African culture, literature at the nearby Millwall Football Club’s reception hall. There will be cultural troupes from all over Nigeria performing as well as those from Ghana, Kenya, the Caribbean and Congo, and a re-enactment of Things Fall Apart.”
Dignitaries expected include former Commonwealth Secretary General, Emeka Anyaoku; Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida, Chi Onwurah, MP; Chuka Umunna, MP, and the Mayor of Enfield, Kate Anolue.
Also expected are the embassies representatives of Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Côte d’Ivoire. The Anambra Women Group has offered to take care of catering for the day and treat guests to the best of Nigerian cuisine.
Dan Otuonye, the chairman of the Organising Committee said: “We will print T-shirts, women’s head ties and men’s caps, which will be made available on the day. Igbo Youth Organisation will also entertain guests to the best of our culture.”
Organisers have been split into cultural, security, publicity, catering and organising committees to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day. Several Nigerian authors and poets will also be expected to read from their books, while academics who worked with Professor Achebe will read out eulogies.
Ayo Akinfe, the chairman of the publicity committee, said: “Achebe was a global icon who cared passionately about humanity and we want this event to reflect his life.
“There will be cultural troupes there to showcase how Achebe brought the attention of the world to the fact that we Africans actually have a culture. there to highlight the fact that he was a genuine global icon.”