Scholars Renew Call for Immortalization of Chinua Achebe

Scholars in Anambra state have called on the federal and state governments to immortalize award winning legendary writer and literary icon, Chinua Achebe, the author of Things Fall Apart.

The call was made in the 5th edition of the memorial festival for the late Chinua Achebe tagged “Chinua Achebe: Our Heritage In a New Normal” organized by the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Anambra State Chapter to celebrate the legacies and works of the acclaimed father of African Literature.

The scholars at the event which took place at the Kenneth Dike Central E- library, Awka said that Achebe is a great sage who deserved to be befittingly immortalized after seven years of his demise. They said that the literary icon is due to be immortalized owing to his laudable contributions in not just the literary field but to humanity.

Participants at the event

Delivering his keynote, Former PDP Governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Mr Oseloka Obase extolled the literary impacts made the legendary writer and described him as a revolutionary author who shattered the conventions of literature and shaped the collective identity of Nigerians throughout the world.

He said that Chinua Achebe was a legend in his life time, and because he gave so much of himself to the the posterity, the society should continue to celebrate him and speak of him in the present tense.

Mr. Oseloka Obaze

Oseloka who is also former secretary to the state government under Peter Obi Administration noted the giant legacies Chinua Achebe left behind even as he declared that Achebe was “The Unacknowledged Nobel Laureate” who has never been appreciated in his fatherland.

Quoting the voice of Barack and Michelle Obama, “A revolutionary author, educator, and cultural ambassador, Chinua shattered the conventions of literature and shaped the collective identity of Nigerians throughout the world. With a dream of taking on misconceptions of his homeland, he gave voice to perspectives that cultivated understanding and drew our world closer together. His legacy will endure in the hearts of all whose lives he touched with everlasting power of his art.”

Mr. Obaze who titled his address “If the Dead Could Speak, What Would Achebe Say of Present Day Nigeria?” also spoke on Achebe’s Nigeria in Perspective. According to him, Achebe’s writings clearly described the many challenges facing the country while it has also predicted the events which is playing out in the country presently through his ‘things fall apart’ and ‘No longer at ease’, which he wrote in the 19s and his early stages of life.

Oseloka Obaze handing over award to Chief Chuka Nnabuife

“Achebe, as we all know, wrote extensively about Nigeria. At times, he did so presciently. In one instance, he correctly predicted a military coup. Though that happenstance was an inexplicable coincidence, he almost got himself into trouble with Nigerian authorities. In two other instances, 2004 and 2011, he rejected high national awards in protestation of the squalid bankrupt and lawless fiefdom Nigeria had become.

“At another time in 1983- Achebe wrote a pithy little seminal book, wherein he dissected with surgical precision, The Trouble With Nigeria. As they say, great things come in small sizes. There was perhaps a reason why Achebe wrote that small but mighty book.

“Before then, another pithy book, by Peter Pan Enahoro titled, How to Be Nigerian had given a unvarnished glimpse into the mindset of the true Nigerian; the mindset that led us to our present new normal and conundrum- a nation of severe and deep-seated paradoxes – where we know what is good for us, but refuse to do it; a nation where we have the best world class players in politics and sports, yet frequently elect and select Third-rate teams to represent us; a nation endowed with riches in human capital and natural resources, yet one that earned the dubious distinction of being the poverty capital of the world.

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justice Peter Umeadi and Oseloka Obaze at the event

“Chinua Achebe in his lifetime influenced many people, writers, politicians and philosophers, and did so effortlessly. One of his beneficiaries – John D. Mahama – ended up being the President of Ghana. And this is what Mahama said of Achebe. One thing I learned from Achebes work is that, the system is nothing more than a collection of people, their values and their behaviors. We are all part of a system, and all systems are subject to change. Change can be difficult, even for those who claim to want it.

“Think of what Achebe said of Nigeria years before he departed -Things Fall Apart and No Longer At Ease. Both expressions can be easily applied any day to our beloved country. It is exactly because things have fallen apart and because we are no longer at ease cohabiting in a Nigeria rife with insecurity and disequilibria that may now clamour for restructuring. They do so, believing earnestly, that it is the only way to save Nigeria, make her better and whole again, and save our noble heritage for the succeeding generation.”

Mr. Obaze who later addressed journalists lauded the youths for deeming it fit to organize a lecture in honour and to celebrate the Literary Icon and challenged them to build on the achievements of Igbo writers who have made the region proud worldwide.

He advised them not to be distracted or influenced by the negative life of social media but instead to use it wisely and positively in pursuit of their visions.

Earlier, the chairman of the day, Mr Chuka Nnabuife noted that Chinua Achebe was a great man who did not only write for the future but encapsulated the wisdom of the past. He said that Achebe was an activist for the future reminding that it was in his activism that he got himself involved in a fatal accident that kept him half paralyzed and on a wheel chair stating that even in the wheel chair he failed to renege on his campaign for the future.

Nnabuife who is Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief at Anambra Newspaper & Printing Corporation, later spoke to a team of journalists insisted that the event to celebrate Achebe’s 5th Memorial festival and 90th posthumous birthday was not a an academic or political occasion but a platform for wisdom adding that one can only be celebrated and remembered only if he lived a life of legacy.

” The 90th Post humus birthday is the one that some young writers have consistently marked and they are marking the fifth edition if his memorial festival and every year, new books as well as writings about the achebians literary philosophy and his larger works keep emerging. The young men keep telling people like us that if you do your best to impact your generation you stand to be celebrated.

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“The legacies of Achebe keeps expanding and the youngsters keep taping into it. My biggest joy is on the overwhelming attendance of young writers from different schools and people from different walks including those in their doctorate researches.

People like Chinua Achebe deserve to be immortalized if not on his birthday, it could be on his death day. Such things go on to help the society aggregate their thought and facilitate towards what will continue to help the society. Achebe should be honored either in the form of documentation for tourist attraction or a library even in the form of museums.”

Speaking at the event, the commissioner for Information and public enlightenment, Mr C-Don Adinuba said that Chinua Achebe has been the greatest gift Anambra has given to Africa and the world even as he described him as a great man, a seer and a prophetic writer. According to him, Achebe foresaw the first coup which took place in January 1966 and also foretold the counter coup which took place six months after.

Speaking to journalists, Adinuba stated that the state government through the ministry of youths and creative economy have considered building a film village in the state. According to him, fiction, drama, production and marketing are part of creative economy, are what the government is considering building the film village even noting that the government is devoted to the arts.

He stressed that the willie obiano administration is youth friendly and assure that the government is committed to developing youths because according to him, the youths forms the larger hope for the future of the society.

Also speaking, former Chief Judge of Anambra State, Peter Umeadi enjoined students and youths to be courageous in whatever they do noting that it is courage that will give them the drive to achieve greatness like Chinua Achebe and the likes.

While urging students to be persistent and hardworking, Justice Umeadi advised them to shun plagiarism and make sure that they maintain who they are as attempts to copy styles and patterns in art work has ruined the lives of promising artists in the past.

Also speaking, the Director of Anambra State Library Board, Dr Nkechi Udeze charged the students to be avid reader of novels and other literary works as that would help shape who they become in the future. She further advised them to see library as their workshop where quality books are domiciled for their personal building and development.

In his remark, the coordinator of society of young Nigerian Writers, Anambra State Chapter, Izunna Okafor said that Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture is an annual literary event organized by the society of young Nigerian writers, Anambra state chapter in commemoration and celebration of the life, works and legacies of Achebe who according to him is one of the world’s greatest literary legends that ever lived and a father of modern African literature.

Izunna who is an award winning author called on governments to immortalize the literary icon who have according to him gave Africa a strong voice through his works.

“We the young writers in Anambra state do not only through the program remind the concerned authorities to immortalize Achebe; we equally use it to immortalize him in our own way by publishing annual poetry/ Essay Anthology in his honour, which comprises of poems and essays contributed by writers from different countries of the world in response to ‘call for submission’.

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“Aside that, we also through this event promote, encourage and reward creative and reading culture among our youths and students and harness the hidden but amazing talents among our young ones in literary field.”

While he noted that the theme of the festival, ‘Chinua Achebe: Our Heritage In A New Normal’ is geared towards focusing on Achebe’s Identity, personality, and legacies, vis a vis the society’s heritage and the new normal, he called on the state government and good spirited private individuals to consider taking the annual sponsorship of the festival who according to him is yet to be befittingly immortalized with any structure.

“We use this medium to reiterate our call on the government to immortalize this legend- Achebe, for he is due for that. The program should be upgraded beyond this level, and transformed into a tourist attraction in the shortest long run, as Achebe’s name alone is a tourist attraction.

” There is only one writers Residency in Nigeria – the Ebedi Writers Residency in Oyo state – and which is even privately owned. It would be a laudable feat if Anambra state Government establishes one in memory and honor of Chinua Achebe.”

While he decried the difficulties young writers under as a result of money to publish their literary works, Izunna also called on the state government to empower young writers in the state intellectually and financially through trainings and workshops in the same ways farmers and artisans are trained to enable the state Fenian a force to be reckoned with in the literary field.

High point of the event was the cutting of the birthday cake on behalf of Chinua Achebe and award presentations to Oseloka Obaze, Chuka Nnabuife, Dr Nkechi Udeze among others for their support to the society of young writers, Anambra state. Also, an award of participation was given to Odogwu Emeka Odogwu; publisher of and other key participants for their

In the student category, Nwachi Rejoice of Faith Model Secondary School, Awka, won the first prize, which made her a three consecutive winner. Collect Chioma of Nnamdi Azikiwe University High School, came second; while the State Qualifier of the 2020 Nigerian Spelling Bee Competition and the 2019 overall winner of the Esteequeen Entertainment Spelling Bee, trailed the third position. reports that the event which is first of its kind was seized to celebrate the 90th post humus birthday for the writer who departed in march, 2013 as it witnessed performances of sorts including essay writing competition, award recognitions, live performances and the rest.

Pix1: group photograph of the participants

Pix 2: the first position winner in the essay competition, Nwachi Rejoice

Pix 3: Participants cutting the Chinua Achebe 90th posthumous birthday cake

Pix 3: (L-R) Justice Peter Umeadi, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, Chief Chuka Nnabuife, Arc Chinelo Oforche at the event in Awka, Monday.

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