BY OUR REPORTERS
EXACTLY 161 days after releasing his latest and most controversial book: There Was A Country, literary giant, Emeritus Professor Chinualumogu Achebe, yesterday, died of complications arising from old age in a hospital in Boston, United States of America, aged 82. The iconic poet, novelist and critic had been ill for some time.
Unarguably, one of the world’s most celebrated writers, the death of Achebe, the David and Mariana Fisher Professor of Literature at BrownUniversity and author of the classic novel, Things Fall Apart, threw Nigeria, the world’s largest black nation into mourning. The polity was awash with ocean of tributes to the literary Iroko yesterday.
Among those who mourned and paid glowing tributes to Acbebe yesterday were President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, Governors Peter Obi (Anambra), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Chibuike Amechi (Rivers), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Sullivan Chime (Enugu), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), former Head of State, Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), former National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Author and Traditional Ruler, Prof Chukwuemeka Ike, Senator Chris Ngige, former EFCC Chairman, Malam Nuhu Ribadu and MASSOB Leader, Chief Ralph Uwazurike.
Tributes also came from two former governors of AnambraState. Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Poets and Authors, Prof JP Clark, Odia Ofeimum and Femi Osofisan; Prof Damian Opata, Prof Walter Ofonagoro, Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orietation, Edem Duke; Senator Ben Obi, Senators Bukola Saraki and Anthony Adefuye; Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Aka Ikenga, Chief Ebenenzer Babatope, member of the House of Representatives, Hon Tobias Okechukwu, Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, the Igbo Youths Movement, IYM and Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
Achebe was committed to a better Nigeria – Jonathan
President Jonathan said the deceased would be remembered for his ‘’immense patriotism and sincere commitment to a better Nigeria,’’ adding that he ‘’will be greatly missed’’ by Nigerians.
A condolence message signed by Presidential Spokesman Reuben Abati, read in part: ‘’President Goodluck Jonathan has received with immense sadness, news of the passing away of Nigeria’s globally acclaimed writer, scholar, tutor, cultural icon, nationalist and artist of the very first rank, Prof. Chinua Achebe.
President Jonathan joins Prof. Achebe’s family, his friends, colleagues, past and present students, admirers and all who have learnt indelible lessons of human existence from his award-winning works of literature in mourning the legendary author.
’’As he mourns however, the President is consoled by the knowledge that Prof. Achebe will live forever in the hearts and minds of present and future generations through his great works which brought him enduring international fame and countless honours.
The President believes that Prof. Achebe’s frank, truthful and fearless interventions in national affairs will be greatly missed at home in Nigeria because while others may have disagreed with his views, most Nigerians never doubted his immense patriotism and sincere commitment to the building of a greater, more united and prosperous nation that all Africans and the entire black race could be proud of.
He recalls that with maturity and global stature, Prof. Achebe fearlessly spoke the truth as he saw it and became, as he advanced in age, a much revered national icon and conscience of the nation who will be eternally honoured for his contributions to national discourse as well as the immense fame and glory he brought to his fatherland.’’
Vice President Namadi Sambo in a message signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Alhaji Umar Sani, also condoled ‘’the family, well wishers and numerous fans of our departed literary icon, Chinua Achebe who passed on in the USA.”
He prayed for the repose of the soul of the deceased and the fortitude for the family to bear the irreparable loss.
Achebe lived a worthy life – Mark
Senate President David Mark, yesterday said that the death of Achebe was a huge loss to Nigeria and the academia, just as he described him as an accomplished writer and a world celebrated author who lived a life worthy of emulation.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, Senator Mark, who noted that he received the news of Achebe’s death in Ouito, Ecuador, recalled that his best-seller, Things Fall Apart, was the first African book to be translated into more than 70 languages.
According to Mark, ‘’Achebe was a patriotic Nigerian who used his literary prowess to seek a better society for our nation. We shall all miss him. Our younger generation should rise up and be counted in their various careers.”
It’s exit of literary Iroko – Ekweremadu, Ndoma-Egba
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Uche Anichukwu described Achebe’s death as ‘’the exit of a Literary Iroko,”
“This is a very sad development given that Achebe employed his writing prowess to paint Nigeria proudly on the global map of fame, and as a social critic, he was very courageous and spoke his mind according to his conviction without fear or favour,” he said and condoled with the Professor’s family, the government and people of Anambra State and the nation in general over the irreparable loss.
In like manner, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba ydescribed the late Achebe as a master story teller who defined his age and times, adding, “An Iroko has fallen. Chinua Achebe was a master story teller who defined his age and times.
”He gave African Literature definition and character. Like William Shakespeare, Chinua Achebe lives on.”
He was one of the finest minds in the world-Gov. Obi
Governor Peter Obi of AnambraState who broke the news of Achebe’s death described him as one of the finest minds the world has known.
The text of his message reads: “I woke up early this morning and saw two missed calls from Prof. China Achebe’s son, Dr. Ike Achebe, with whom I have been in regular touch to ascertain his father’s well being. I immediately returned the call, and to my greatest shock and disbelief, he informed me that his father has just passed on. The world has lost one of her finest minds. Africa and Nigeria have lost one of their greatest global Ambassadors. I have duly contacted Mr. President to inform him about the sad development. I have also contacted some prominent Nigerians who also expressed shock at the development”
Obi who said he was in touch with the Achebe family is said to have completed arrangements to depart to the USA later today to confer with the family.
The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, in Kaduna said: “The reported death of Prof Chinua Achebe is a sad news. As a result, there is nothing we can say beyond the usual platitude that God should give the people and government of Nigeria the fortitude to endure what cannot be changed, since death is an inevitable end for all mortals.
The Prof is gone in flesh. But in many ways, he is very much around, considering he needs no tombstone to remind us of his legacies.
’’We can imagine his body lying in peace and in pains: the peace associated with death and the pains of what he has left behind that are still begging for attention.
And so one way of remembering Prof Chinua Achebe is live up his legacies. Yet, however we feel the loss of the Prof, we may not trade places with those who did not share the sentiments of what he stood for in life. May his soul rest in peace.”
… A blow to the progressives –Balarabe Musa
On his part, former Governor of old KadunaState, Alhaji Balarabe Musa said, “It is unfortunate that Achebe died. His death is a serious blow to the progressives in particular and Nigerians in general.
He was a member of my party, the People’s Redemption Party, PRP. I wish him God’s forgiveness of his sins.
Actually, he was an honest gentle man in all respects. His type are very few in Nigeria. Apart from Prof Wole Soyinka, (and who else) that has made some impact in the world, I do not see any other person like Achebe who has made the country proud in the literary and intellectual arena. Achebe was an intellectual gentleman.”
I ‘ll always remember Achebe
– JP Clark
In a short tribute, Prof JP, another literary icon, said “before I too go my way, my wife and I will always remember Chinua with fondness. Our thoughts are with Christie and the children. So let him rest.”
Achebe’s death, a personal loss – Ofonagoro
Prof Walter Ofonagoro, former Director General of Nigeria Television Authority and Information Minister said the death of Prof. Chinua Achebe was a personal loss to me because he was my friend and after the civil war, I assisted him to Boston in 1972.
As the Director General of NTA, I commissioned the production of Things Fall Apart into a movie which helped to further populaise the book which has been translated into several languages.
This production of Things Fall Apart further helped the evolution of the film industry in Nigeria.
Things have fallen apart – Ben Obi
Reacting to Achebe’s death yesterday, Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi lamented that things had really fallen apart and the centre could no longer hold.
He said. “It is with a great sense of shock, loss and immense sense of foreboding that I received the sad news of the passing on of this great Igbo nay Nigerian cum African Icon and globally acclaimed literary giant Professor Chinualumogu Achebe in the United States of America.
“Chinua as he is fondly called was an epitome of literary creativity that went beyond the normal, his witty anecdotes in his books especially the early three Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God and No Longer At Ease, compelled the reader (especially Africans) wallow in homesickness.”
“Alas our unrepentant Apostle of our age old but latterly despised and grossly abused ethics and value is no more. A true scholar who has left immortal footprints in contemporary literary history, a great son of Africa and statesman is indeed no more.
Things really have fallen apart and the centre will no longer hold. I sincerely condole with his widow, children, extended family and the government and people of Nigeria on the sad event of the death of one of the greatest men that ever trod this earth in our time and indeed Africa’s number one foremost story teller.”
It’s is irreparable loss — Buhari
National leader of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, General Muhammadu Buhari expressed shock at the demise of Achebe, a writer he said that effectively combined intellectualism and simplicity.
“His debut literary work, ‘Things Fall Apart’ published in 1958, has continued to attract wide readership across the globe. He was known for an inimitable courage in freely expressing his personal convictions on prevalent National discourse irrespective of the desire of the principalities in the Land.
He rebuffed two attempts by the PDP-led Federal Government to confer National honours on him because of his conviction that the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as a party, had not given Nigerians any hope of responsible governance.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, NEC and the party members across the Nation-space and the Diaspora, GMB sent his condolence to the immediate family members of Professor Achebe on the tragic loss.
“May the Almighty God grant the family and the entire Nation the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
It’s a sad moment for Nigeria – Adefuye
Also botched Third Republic Senator, Anthony Adefuye, said it was a sad moment for Nigeria because a man of honour had gone home.
“It is really a sad moment. Achebe was a literally giant and great poet. He wrote many books including Things Fall Apart, for which he would never be forgotten. He was a man of honour. He will be remembered for his books and poetry,” he said.
IYM declares seven days mourning, say we’re in shock
Igbo youths under the umbrella of the Igbo Youths Movement, IYM, said they could not believe that Achebe is dead.
Said the group’s President, Evang Elliot Uko: The Igbo Youth Movement wails in shock to the call to glory of African hero Prof. Chinualumogu Achebe. We wail and mourn and wish it was not true. Achebe presented traditional African society to the rest of the world fifty five years ago.
He was the man who gave the world insight to the orderliness of pre-colonial Africa. His ideas and message translated to over a hundred languages.
Lately, he stood up for truth in an inspiring display of courage and love for one’s people and respect for History. He was not afraid of name calling or the expected abuse. He chose the truth in order to inspire all generations. A great Iroko has fallen, IYM hereby declares seven days mourning for the man of his people.”
It’s a great loss to literary world – Fashola
On his part, Governor Babatunde Fashola, described Achebe’s death as a great loss not only to the literary world but also humanity.
Fashola, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Hakeem Bello, recalled his meeting with Professor Achebe last December at Brown University, Providence in Rhodes Island United States, where he had gone to deliver a keynote Paper at the 2012 Achebe Colloquium on Africa, saying he was particularly saddened by the fact that there was nothing that indicated that the meeting would be the last.
“I am particularly saddened by the fact that when I met him at BrownUniversity last December, I never realized it will be my last with him. It is, indeed a great loss and given the great contribution he has made in shaping the course of African Literature, he will be sorely missed, especially by the literary world”, governor Fashola said.
He said Nigeria, Africa and the Black Race owe Professor Achebe a wealth of gratitude and honour “for his uncompromising stand against all forms of colonialism and man’s inhumanity to man”, adding that both nationally and internationally, the literary don agitated for equality and objectivity.
Achebe will never die, says Okonjo — Iweala
In her reaction, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said Achebe would never die.
Her words: “We received the news of the passing of Prof Chinua Achebe with a sense of profound loss. Yes, he was 82 years old and by any measure not too young to die. But Achebe had for so long been a part of our lives that the thought of his death has an unreal quality.
“Additionally, having known him and his wonderful wife, Aunty Christy since I was a teenager, there is, for me, a very personal feeling to this loss. But the good news is that though he is gone, Achebe is very much alive. He is alive in his works and in his words and in his ideas.
Certainly his idea that African culture has intrinsic value beyond anthropological voyeurism is very much alive. That is why his great intellect lives on and the man will never die!”
Immortalize him by rehabilitating Enugu-Ogidi-Onitsha road – PDP
The National leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP yesterday described the late Professor Chinua Achebe as one who stood for anti-corruption and social justice.
The party urged the Federal Government to honour Achebe’s numerous contribution to the nation by immediately commencing works on the rehabilitation of Enugu-Ogidi-Onitsha road which passed through his home town, Ogidi in AnambraState.
In a statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP said that Achebe would be greatly remembered for his unwavering anti-corruption stand; his efforts towards promoting high moral values in the country as well as his contributions toward national development.
Governors pay tributes Governor Amechi mourns Achebe:
Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi yesterday, expressed shock and sadness over the passing of renowned writer, Prof. Chinua Achebe.
Amaechi who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. David Iyofor, described Achebe as one of Nigeria’s and Africa’s finest literary giants whose works speak volumes and is internationally recognized.
Amaechi recalled his fond memories of Achebe including his play “A man of the people” which is the governor’s favourite work by the writer.
Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has described the deaths of Professor Chinua Achebe, Chief Richard Akinnola and televangelist, Pastor Timothy Obadare as a rude shock for a Nigerian nation which requires at this time the intellectual, business acumen and spiritual interventions that the three men stood for in their lifetimes.
He made this known in a release issued by his Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Festus Adedayo.
He described Professor Achebe as a literary scholar who, through his story-telling acumen, told the Nigerian/African story to the subconscious of the entire world, by so doing showing the world that Africans possessed a rich cultural heritage that is comparable to any people’s in the whole world.
“Through his story-telling, which he did with a baffling mastery and simplicity, Achebe told our own story with arresting simplicity, thus arresting the slide of negative perception of Africans as devoid of a worthwhile historical past. He showcased our rich history, culture and language, thereby changing Western historians’ wrong perspectives about Africa and Africans as a people without history,” Ajimobi said.
Babatope, Hon Okechukwu speak
Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party and an ardent loyalist of Chief Obafemi Awolowo said the death of Prof Chinua Achebe is a great loss to Nigeria and Nigerians because he was not only a profound intellectual but also a progressive intellectual and a political actor.
Chief Babatope said while Prof. Achebe was at University of Nigeria Nsukka, he was in the class of powerful intellectuals who published the Nsukka Scope which took up progressive social issues and even outside the academia, the late Prof Achebe aligned with progressive forces. He proved healthy controversies and even the last controversies generated by his last work There was A Country, did not diminish his stature as a literary giant.
A member of Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Tobias Okechukwu, said Achebe is truly a literary giant who has contributed immensely to the growth and development of African literature worldwide and he will be greatly missed for his being bold, forthright and candid. He said his views in his last work There was A Country shows that nothing has changed, especially those things that took the country to war front.