“We do not ask for wealth because he that has health and children will also have wealth. We do not pray to have money but to have more kinsmen. We are better than animals because we have kinsmen. An animal rubs its itching flank against a tree, a man asks his kinsman to scratch him.”
― Chinua Achebe,
ACHEBE KNEW THINGS WOULD ALWAYS FALL APART EXCEPT SOMETHING FAR FROM THIS CONTRAPTION CALLED NIGERIA OCCURS
Before I commence, it is extremely important to note that; “the engine room of any national interest is the executive obedience to court orders, protection and preservation of citizens’ constitutional liberties. But when there is justification of executive disobedience to court orders and made to be seen as a protection of national interest, that should be regarded as abominable? right?
I never met Chinua Achebe in person, I only grew interested in the fine gentleman while working on a project back then in school. Though I liked reading books, I never had a rounded love story when it came to literature and it’s affiliations. In other words I had reasons not to go close to African literature, as I saw it as boring and somehow knew the stories my boring lecturer would come to preach.
…was forced to read Achebe’s works, to help a team work on a project. I never thought I would ever resonate with his person and elements he used in inking words to sheet, (I had a picture of a weak man in my head, due to his style when it came to public presentations) but I have come to realize that when you become conscious of happenings around you, you have no choice than to accept realistic truths, exposed by a conscious and realistic activist.
Achebe knew and lived in the core of the motifs that turned out to be the creatives he used in creating all the masterpiece work of art that has his name on it.
After much study, I now completely relate with Achebe’s soft but sound sentiments. His “unorganized” style of activism and an indirect fight for independence for his fellow indigenous brothers.
He fought a fight anyone even insiders would tag ‘not concrete’, but no one should ever ignore the outstanding feat he achieved both as a soft spoken activist and even as an ordinary literature teacher.
It’s still very hard to reconcile the taciturn elderly, black-beret-wearing gentleman, who had his way with mixing and blending the African traditional beliefs with christainity; pushing his points home with style; “grit and wit” his most trusted elements for expressions. Using an unapologetic in-your-face voice of Africa I had imagined while reading his world renowned ‘THINGS FALL APART’ or the indifferent and slightly aggrieved man I pictured while I flipped the pages of; ‘THERE WAS A COUNTRY’.
Regardless what anyone thinks, I give resounding cheer to the man that knew how to merge raw artistry with reassuring elements that celebrated the value of humanity and the essence of originality, forcing his readers to rely on him to always stay real and opinionated, something I refer to as; substance not just as style, but substance as the main style.
I guess it is perhaps for this actual reason that Achebe works have become a complete fundamental texts for much of African literature …even outside the shores of this great continent. His very humble persona has become an exemplary status for many Africans, writers and non-writers inclusive.
A rebel, an opinionated man, an unselfish mentor. Achebe’s refusal twice to accept Nigeria’s National Honors on the grounds that most of the issues within this contraption called Nigeria and the style of governance within, which he illuminated in – ‘THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA’, has remained unsolved. As he chooses to stamp his reputation as a man of ultimate principle and fine standards. But this “teacher of light” with a personal antecedent of the African cultural and historical values; have largely remained the focus of post colonial theorists who have often rendered the world’s most accessible authors as inaccessible – Even as much as he tried to offer himself to us in his last memoir, ‘a personal history of Biafra’ – ‘THERE WAS A COUNTRY’.
WRITTEN AND EDITED BY CHARLES OKPERE
…to be continued
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