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Chinua Achebe—a Poet, Philosopher and Prophet

04/04/13

Chinua Achebe—a Poet, Philosopher and Prophet

*Chinua Achebe—a Poet, Philosopher and Prophet

By C. Kingston Ekeke, Ph.D

It is with heavy heart and deep sorry, I pen this condolence message and tribute in honor of Albert Chinualumogu Achebe. On behalf of my family and Leadership Wisdom Institute, I wish the Achebe’s family, God’s peace and rest over the passing in glory of the eminent poet, the master novelist, and an essayist per excellence. Our hearts, sympathy, and condolences are with you and your loved ones over this incalculable loss. Ndi-Igbo and indeed the entire nation have lost a national treasure.

The late Prof. Chinua Achebe was a man of dignity, honor, and integrity. He was a brilliant scholar and intellectual giant. Chinua Achebe was a literary giant, a prolific writer, an iconic figure and Nigeria’s pride. He was a rare human-being, a man of moral consciousness and divine integrity. Prof. Achebe was Africa’s pride and a gift to the world.

As a poet, novelist and essayist, Chinua Achebe’s notable achievements include his famous 1958 novel, “Things Fall Apart,” which have sold more than 10 million copies and translated in more than 50 languages. Things Fall Apart is read and studied in schools, colleges and institutions of higher learning in over 100 countries of the world. Achebe’s writings have influenced and inspired the global community for more than half a century. ( Continues below..... )

Prof. Chinua Achebe

Photo Above: Prof. Chinua Achebe

As a philosopher, Chinua Achebe was a great thinker and intellectual icon. He was a true gem, a sage and an incomparable personality in human history. He was a prolific author, a master writer and one of the most celebrated writers in the world. Prof. Achebe stands incomparable amongst the world's greatest writers, poets and novelists of all time. Millions of writers—aspiring and skilled, as well as millions of readers around the world, found in him their inspiration. Even the world’s greatest poets are inspired by his writings and style. His writing style reads like music and melody.

As a prophet, Chinua Achebe showed an intense concern about the nation’s corrupt and failed leadership. In his famous book entitled: “The Trouble with Nigeria,” he succinctly writes, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.” He was so concerned with the pandemic poverty, disease, corruption, violence, ethical and moral decadence in Nigeria due to failure of leadership. In his lifetime, he saw Nigeria degenerate from a nation of hope to a nation of lawlessness and irresponsible leadership.

Today, the wealth of the nation is being fleeced by a leadership cult that does not care for the common good of the country. What we have today is a lawless and disorderly nation—a country with repugnant culture of callousness and irresponsibility. A nation of ethnic jingoism and tribal hatred, a nation where truth is portrayed as false and false as truth depending on who is saying it. Chinua Achebe, the poet, philosopher, prophet and sage always spoke truth to power no matter whose feelings is hurt.

Like prophet Amos, Chinua Achebe spoke to a crumbling nation, a nation since independence has not been able to govern itself, a nation that has not truly enjoyed any period of political peace and economic prosperity despite its abundant resources—human and natural.

Like prophet Amos, Professor Achebe spoke to a nation that is inwardly rotten, against perverted religious nation and corrupt spiritual leaders—hypocritical priests, pastors, bishops, and syncretic church.

Like prophet Isaiah, Achebe possessed prophetic consciousness and spoke against a rebellious nation, a nation of cheaters, looters, liars, hypocrites and irresponsible leaders. He cried out for the ordinary folk who are cheated and exploited by those who claim to be their leaders. He understood the hurt and pains of millions of suffering Nigerians. Like prophet Jeremiah, he wept for Nigeria and condemned social injustice and deceptive prosperity and warned her against injustice, idolatry, and immorality. However, the sage also believed in the power and greatness of Nigeria that can only come when Nigeria buries its tumultuous past; make a sincere decision to live in peace again and genuine effort to re-integrate the Igbos and minorities in the affairs of Nigeria.

As a poet, he was a combination of Dante and Milton. As a philosopher, he was Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle combined. And a prophet, he was the conscience of the nation and a combination of Hosea, Amos, Micah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. When one reads the writings of Chinua Achebe, one cannot help comparing him among the great and Greek Homeric epics, or English Shakespeare and other greats. Chinua Achebe had a heightened sense of divine agony against the culture of callousness, corruption as well as lawless and disorderly country Nigeria had become.

His recent book, “There was a country—Personal History of Biafra,” which has been described by New York Times as classic, the foremost novelist and world renowned essayist, Professor Chinua Achebe, not only recounts his experiences of the ethnic genocide against Ndi-Igbo, but the deliberate effort to exclude his ethnic people from the affairs of running the nation—a nation in which the Igbos constitute more than one-third of the population and contribute tremendously to the federation.

Despite the barrage of criticisms against his Biafra memoir by some political crabs and idlers because of his facts of genocide, pogrom and wicked monetary policy meted against Ndi-Igbo by Awo and Gowon, the literary icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Novelist Wole Soyinka agreed with most of the facts in Achebe’s book. Frankly, it strikes me that most Nigerian political leaders are still living in denial. As one commentator said, words and facts in Chinua Achebe's latest sacramental book: "There was a country", are sacrosanct. Nigeria cannot move forward until she deals with her past. Nigeria cannot and will not move forward until repentance, genuine forgiveness and true reconciliation are made. Ethnic jingoism and hatred, religious bigotry and intolerance, corruption and vision-less leadership are just some of the challenges hindering Nigeria’s development and progress. Until the national leadership courageously deals with such issues, Nigeria will continue to exist in absolute vanity.

Chinua Achebe is a man of honor and integrity. He was a rare human-being and a heavenly gift to the world. He was a great thinker and intellectual giant, the moral conscience of Nigeria and moral fighter for his ethnic people, Ndigbo. Among the dead and those living, even those who claim to be anointed writers today, none is comparable to the late Chinua Achebe. He was a sage, an intellectual giant and global treasure. He possessed an indomitable spirit, and was a champion for justice and a prophet who used his pen to speak against a nation that continues to squander its greatness and glory because of religious intolerance, ethnic hatred and bad leadership.

Let it be noted that the Achebe’s family alone did loose their beloved father, grand-father, uncle, brother, etc., but Ndi-igbo, Nigeria, Africa and indeed the world lost a gem, a sage, and a rare man, whose name and books will continue to resonate throughout the entire global community. On behalf of my family, I wish to express my deepest sympathy and condolences to Achebe’s family over the passing in glory of Chinua Achebe in Boston, Massachusetts and his older brother, Philip Achebe in Atlanta, Georgia a week prior. I pray God Almighty to encourage your hearts and for you to know that your beloved ones have departed this earthly realm to be with the LORD in heaven. They have entered into everlasting peace and glory where there are no more pain, sickness, and suffering.

May God dry your tears and fill you and your family with comfort during this time of grieve, sorrow, and sadness. May the Lord grant the dead eternal peace and give the bereaving family the fortitude to bear this huge loss. May his soul rest in eternal peace! Amen.

May the LORD bless Albert Chinualumogu Achebe and keep you; May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; May the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24). Amen.

In his book, a ‘Call to Conscience,’ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “death is not a period that ends the great sentence of life but a comma that punctuates it to more loft significance.

May Chinua Achebe and his works will live forever in our minds and hearts. Adieu.

We bemoan today.

In Deepest Sympathy,

C. Kingston Ekeke, Ph.D. , is a public theologian, author, consultant and leadership scholar. He is the founder and president of Leadership Wisdom Institute.

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