By Uduma Kalu
Did anyone notice it, the significance of Chukwuemeka Akachi’s suicide? Akachi was a 20-year-old writer and final year student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
In the wake of surging suicides among Nigerian youth, I had expected government agencies charged with youth, information, orientation, finance, education and Buhari himself to come out without equivocations and state it loud and clear why our young ones should not become suicidal.
But not a word, not a wail, not a whisper has been heard. It’s all quiet from the government front.
I expected it, this disdain the government holds for the people. The people have been conquered by government and its coercive apparatuses, including poverty and hunger. They suffer silently, expecting crumbs from their government and its officials.
In 1998, in Vanguard, I did a critique of new Nigerian poetry and noted a new unassertiveness, a creeping acceptance of the unacceptable in the works. The anger/revolution Odia/Osundare/Ohaeto generation had was gone. The fearful anger in the first dews of the new poets, Olu Oguibe and Esiaba Irobi was almost gone in the works.
Rather, poetry of acquiescence, lamentation, defeat took over. Femi Osofisan and Charles Nnolim would later say that generation were debauchers evidenced in Chimamanda’s Half of a yellow sun; nothing forcefully revolting against the exploitative system.
Yet I felt it was morning yet for a new generation when my friend, Prof Pius Adesanmi, my comrade in arms in theorising the works of our generation, at a 2015 Minna literary confab declared the arrival of a new generation of writers. I felt the lines of the so-called new generation were still as ours. But how could an SM Dzukogi be of same generation with a BM Dzukogi, his dad, my generation? So I began to listen. Still, the aesthetics of the new writers were as ours. The anger was lame, no liver to fight and change their misfortune.
Today, however, I make bold to say a new generation has birthed in our land, And with a bang!
Writers announced it through one of them – Chukwuemeka Akachi. And it is The Suicide Generation.
Many, including government, do not grasp the signs, the darkness this brings to the nation. It is a clear and terrifying danger that offers no hope.
My generation was the visa lottery generation. We were also lured to Europe and the US with scholarships. Later, as things worsened in Nigeria, most of us stayed back, becoming the exiled generation writing from abroad with what Obi Nwakanma called the exilic imagination. The net was our platform. Like castrated bulldogs we barked and balked on the net and to ourselves. The net offered us space to voice our anger and frustration since military rule stifled mainstream media and the new democracy bought it, raising millionaire journalists. The free space declassified info for us. Ethnic rivalry was rife. The Yoruba and the North teamed up against the East, like Biafra again. Loss of Bakassi and rise of APC are some of the signs.
It is 20 years of Nigeria’s new democracy. Akachi’s suicide passes a vote of no confidence in the leaders and democracy. Under their leadership, the country became extreme poverty capital of the world, terrorism capital, an ocean of youth with nothing to do, over 40 million jobless, and growing, as factories shut down, salaries not paid, 15 million children in school. They found a new job – gambling and crime: Bet Naija, 419, gangster killing, robbery, kidnapping. They are hired political thugs and killers, they are terrorists of Boko Haram, herdsmen and solid minerals killers, inter ethnic victims and warriors. They are ones kidnapped in Chibok, Dapchi and sold into slavery as sex slaves.
Millions left schools, becoming suicide bombers. Life in Nigeria became cheaper than cow, than peanut and pure water. Frustration, depression set in. And suicide set in.
Enter Akachi, from a secured home, or so it seems. His Igbo parents loved the kid. Akachi loved their northern home of Wukari. But the north had become the terrorism capital of the world. Mass murder, pillage, fear had taken over the land. Nigeria became a killing field, activist-Senator Shehu Sani wrote. Akachi fled back to his native Igboland. But something snapped in him.
A psychoanalyst can help us dig out Akachi’s suicide option. Jung and Freud Oedipus Complex come handy. Was he a victim of a tiger mom, who instead of loving her son was harsh and biased on cases involving him. Akachi noted how his sister and mom bullied him while dad was away in Nsukka. Obviously, he didn’t tell dad. He bore it alone. He found love, a fellow kid, in church. Though Akachi was silent on what he told her, it is possible he complained to her. The girl was Akachi’s stability, his confidant. Then he decided to quit Wukari and be with dad. Was he tired of mom and sister? Still he didn’t tell dad. Why? He couldn’t trust his reaction? Was his dad weak before his wife? Was she the real husband? Perhaps that’s why Akachi couldn’t talk, not even to the therapist. Nothing would have come out of it. Akachi pined away. This is where the church comes in. But the lad had lost faith in God. Could it be that though his mom was a Christian, she abused him while God looked away, like Jobs?
While Jobbs’ atheism created amazing computers, Akachi, chose death, Akachi still believed he was marked, meaning a supernatural force was controlling him. Yet he was an atheist. Pulled between these contradictions of faithlessness, faith, family and socio-political tensions, Akachi chose suicide. His repressed feelings as Jung would say had found expression in literature. Even that he abandoned. And that is the problem with Akachi’s suicide. Though the structuralist delinks the author from his work, some still see the author in his text. The author and his art are one, to some post-structuralists. The author is to use his art for humanity, not its death. If it fails, the art becomes a dead end, a closet or a close. Mandela said in prison, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart broke the prison walls down. He drew inspiration from Okonkwo, a suicidist. But Okonkwo fought and died for something nobler. Akachi’s art and life offer no alternative but a close ending.
Akachi’s suicide note reads: “Forgive me. In case you are the one who found the body, I am really sorry. It had to be someone you know.”
A 400-level student of the Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, (UNN) has committed suicide.
It was gathered that the deceased carried out the suicide in the solitude of an uncompleted building located at Sullivan Road, Nsukka where he allegedly slipped into coma after taking two bottles of ‘Sniper’ an insecticide.
His unconscious body was however discovered by passersby.
However, according to a source all efforts by the passersby, who rushed him to UNN Federal Medical Centre to revive him, turned futile as he was declared dead at the hospital.
A close friend of Akachi who preferred anonymity said Akachi posted a suicide note on his Facebook wall shortly before he committed suicide.
The suicide note reads: “Forgive me. In case you are the one who found the body, I am really sorry. It had to be someone you know.
“I have chosen Jo Nketaih’s poem as my suicide note: “They said you came looking for me. I don’t drown, I was the water,
“Where do atheists go when they die! Lol. Amen.”
Also, Akachi was said to have posted on his Facebook on May 12 that “My mental health has been on life support for a while now. Thanks to those who call. Text. Visit.
“Speak to me. May we always remember. May we never forget. You may have added a few hours, months or days to my time here. But you know life support is expensive, right?
“Thank you for trying. Amen.”
A senior security personnel in UNN Security Department, who pleaded anonymity, also confirmed the incident, adding that the report was brought to them on Monday morning.
He said this was not the first time Akachi wanted to commit suicide, adding that on two occasions, he had drunk kerosene and petrol to kill himself but was rescued.
“On Monday he drank Sniper and was rushed to UNN Medical Centre first, but was later moved to UNTH Enugu, where he was confirmed dead.
Akachi was said to be a budding poet.
At a national confab, Prof Kalu Uka had argued that no road is closed. Uka said at end of a closed road you return to the beginning and find a new way.
But Akachi offers suicide as alternative, introducing a new generation to writers, the 4th. It is a generation ready to enslave and be enslaved, sold in Europe, Arabia, Asia, Americas. It is ready to dive, drown and die in the Mediterranean just to flee Africa, to sell off its property and be tricked to UAE to lick faeces off Arabs’ anuses. It is a generation ready to and lie and beg, disgrace itself and its humanity and exile itself to perdition. A generation of gamblers built on hope that abroad is better. A generation of suicidists, suicide bombers, drinkers, drug addicts, drug peddlers, lazy, noisy, corrupt and corrupted, bandits, militants, separatists, 419ners, political thugs, area boys and gangsters, used and dumped impoverished generation.