*Obi leads mourners in Awka
By McPhilips Nwachukwu & Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA – AWKA, the capital of Anambra State stood still, Wednesday as the body of the literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe arrived the state for its final journey to Ogidi, his home town, in Idemili North local government area where it will be interred tomorrow.
What happened at the Alexander Ekwueme Arcade, Awka, was simply mind blowing. The remains of the famous writer of Things Fall Apart, who died in Boston, United States of America, USA, was flown into Enugu from Abuja and was finally brought to Awka, the Anambra State capital at exactly 1.07pm Wednesday.
The remains of late Achebe was brought in motorcade to the expansive Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, into the waiting hands of his kinsmen, friends, colleagues, business and high profile delegates from governments from across the world.
Governor Peter Obi and the Senator representing Anambra Central in the Senate, Achebe’s senatorial zone, Dr. Chris Ngige received Achebe’s body at Amansea border between Enugu and Anambra states to a waiting crowd comprising civil servants, politicians and journalists. The entourage headed straight to Alex Ekwueme square where prayers and tributes were lavishly poured.
The body lay in state at the middle of the square and was surrounded by Achebe’s kinsmen wearing traditional attire with red caps to match.
On ground to witness the solemn moment of tribute anchored by 5 star actor Bob Manuel Udokwu were Chris Odom, Professor Joneta Cole , Director of Smithsonian Institute , Washington, Prof. Scott of Penguin Books, Professor Whelan of the University of Cambridge, who represented the Arch bishop of Canterbury.
There were also members of the Achebe family comprising his widow, Prof. Mrs. Achebe, and his children, Dr. Ike Achebe, Prof Chinelo Achebe, Dr. Chidi Achebe and Prof Nwando Achebe.
In his glowing tribute to Achebe, the Director of Penguin, Scott described the late writer as a very great man of letters, whose works have had a succession of influence across generations of writers.
He noted particularly the influence of Achebe’s first three books; Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God and No Longer At Ease, which he described as a “ trilogy of African literature, stressing that “ I have not seen others books or writer that have been so studied and reprinted like Achebe and his works.