By VINCENT UJUMADU
AWKA — MEMBERS of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, academic gurus and public servants yesterday in Awka held what was tagged ‘A day with Achebe’ during which they reflected on the writings of the late literary giant, Professor Chinua Achebe, who died in the United States of America, USA, early this year.
The event, organised by Anambra State branch of ANA, had in attendance, state chairman of ANA, Igwe Chidubem Iweka III of Obosi, Professor Uzodinma Nwala, who is the chairman of Achebe burial committee, Igwe Chukwuemeka Ike of Ndikelionwu in Anambra State and Professor Fidelis Okafor, Vice Chancellor of Anambra State University, Uli.
Others include Professor Rems Umeasiegbu of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Professor Akachi Ezeigbo, Peofessor Charles Nnolim, Malam Dejah Abdullahi, who is the vice president of ANA and Dr. Greg Mbajiorgu of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Also in attendance were Dr. Chidozie Okolo of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Professor Uchenna Nwosu from the USA, Mr. Emeka Nwawka, managing director of Orient Petroleum Resources Plc, Chief Osita Chidoka, Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, Rev Fr. Joe-Barth Abbah and Chief Okey Mgbemena of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko.
ANA chairman, Igwe Ikweka said the association decided to honour Achebe in a special way because of his tremendous contribution towards uplifting literature in Nigeria and the world over.
He also said the greatest honour Nigerian authors could do to the literary icon was to attend his burial ceremonies on May 22 and 23, adding that Achebe was a great inspiration to many people who chose to become authors because of the success achieved by Achebe.
According to him, Nigerians and Igbos in particular, will ever remain grateful to him for lifting the image of the country through his writings and promised that ANA would continue to remember him.
In his tribute, Professor Nnolim, who is Achebe’s contemporary, described the late literary icon as a quintessential Igbo man who did whatever he chose to do with pride even if others hated him for it.
He observed that Achebe abhorred poor leadership which could be seen from all his books, including Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, No Longer at Ease, Man of the People, Anthills of the Savannah and even the latest controversial one, There Was a Country.
He said: “Achebe consistently refused to accept national honours because he felt that the leadership of the country at a time supported the burning down of major government infrastructures in Anambra State. We have indeed lost a gem. He was the best among writers and we say RIP (Return If Possible).”