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March 24, 2013

Wole Soyinka And J.P. Clark Wonder If Kano Bombing May Have Hastened Chinua Achebe’s Death - Read Theirs And Charles Novia's Touching Tributes To The Highly Respected Literary Giant

Prof. Chinua Achebe - RIP Great One. You'd be sorely missed.

From left: Prof. Wole Soyinka and J.P. Clark
Since the father of African modern literature, Prof. Chinua Achebe passed on a few days ago, tributes have been pouring in. Amongst them, a joint tribute from his contemporaries, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and John Pepper Clark.
In their joint tribute entitled, “On the Passing of Chinua Achebe”, the duo wondered if Achebe’s death was hastened by the recent bomb attacks which occurred in Kano. Below is an excerpt from their tribute to Prof. Chinua Achebe, the man who wrote the famous novel, Things Fall Apart.
From left, J.P. Clark, Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka.
“For us, the loss of Chinua Achebe is, above all else, intensely personal. We have lost a brother, a colleague, a trailblazer and a doughty fighter.
Of the ‘pioneer quartet’ of contemporary Nigerian literature, two voices have been silenced – one, of the poet Christopher Okigbo, and now, the novelist Chinua Achebe.
It is perhaps difficult for outsiders of that intimate circle to appreciate this sense of depletion, but we take consolation in the young generation of writers to whom the baton has been passed, those who have already creatively ensured that there is no break in the continuum of the literary vocation.
We need to stress this at a critical time of Nigerian history, where the forces of darkness appear to overshadow the illumination of existence that literature represents. These are forces that arrogantly pride themselves implacable and brutal enemies of what Chinua and his pen represented, not merely for the African continent, but for humanity.
Indeed, we cannot help wondering if the recent insensate massacre of Chinua’s people in Kano, only a few days ago, hastened the fatal undermining of that resilient will that had sustained him so many years after his crippling accident.”
On March 18, 2013, suicide bombers in a Volkswagen golf car rammed into a luxury bus bound for Lagos at a motor park in Kano, killing over 60 people. 80% of the victims were Igbos (Achebe’s tribesmen). Chinua Achebe died 3 days later on March 21, 2013 at a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. 
Also, read film-maker, Charles Novia's tribute to the great one after the cut...


The tributes and honour to such a great literary giant will never ever stop. Even many years after he would have been buried, he will still be remembered for being 'The Father of African Literature'.

What can one say about this man who stirred so much Pride in millions of Nigerians and Africans? A man who made the Western World realise that Africans had literary stories to tell and groomed an influential crop of writers all through the years either as a mentor or proxy-mentor. A man who had such an uncanny but very enlightening and entertaining style of writing and whose works are on every reading list of both the past and present age. A man who inspired people like me.

What else can one say of Chinua Achebe?

In 1990, as a first-year student of Dramatic Arts in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I was part of the cast of the compulsory but exciting theatre adaptation of 'Arrow of God', an Achebe classic. It was adapted for stage by Prof. Emeka Nwabueze and directed by the late but brilliant Eni-Jones Umuko. The play was produced as the Departmental Production in honour of the sixtieth birthday celebration of the Great Chinua Achebe, who the University of Nigeria, Nsukka was celebrating in a world-invited seminar and workshop. Being a freshman, I was part of the crowd of villagers in the production; an introductory welcome into the 'waka pass' genre of which I had never been cast before then.

Writers travelled from all over the world for the Achebe tribute. I remember, and I hope my memory is right here, Nurudeen Farah, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Mongo Beti, Femi Osofisan, Ola Rotimi among great literary icons who came for that epoch event.

That night; after the ceremony, we staged the play. When I came up on stage as a 'waka pass', I just could not resist looking at Chinua Achebe, who was seated in a reserved area. He was smiling and seemed to enjoy the dramatic interpretation of his novel. I forgot myself for a few moments. I was seeing the Great Achebe in real flesh! I was star struck.

There he was; the man who was one of my favourite writers, seated a few metres from me! It was an image I have cherished all my life as that was the first and last time I saw him. I believe he was involved in the accident which left him paralysed as he was on his way to Lagos just after that ceremony. It was a huge shock to us all but Achebe is a study in strength and purpose.

He never seemed to be bothered that he was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He seemed to have accepted his fate and took it with the humility of a man who knew what his 'chi' had in store for him. I thank God he lived for twenty-three more years after that accident within which he wrote a few dissertations and books, all adding to our rich library of gratitude we all owe him.

His last published book, 'There was a country' is still causing ripples among the tribal irridentists mentioned in the book. Achebe was pilloried and castigated for writing about his personal convictions about the Biafra War, which irked not a few people. All I can say is that I'm glad he eventually published that book. He has told his story. You tell yours, if you can. Indeed, there really was a great man.

Awwww Awwww bless! I remember 'Arrow Of God' too before 'Things Fall Apart' was written. It is touching reading all these tributes and watching CNN to see practically the entire world sending in their tributes to our dear literary giant, Prof. Chinua Achebe. RIP great one. Your life will be constantly celebrated and you will NEVER be forgotten.

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