Chinua Achebe: Why I rejectedNigeria's 2004 national honors from Obasanjo'sgovernment
Let us now praise famous men: ATribute to V.C. Ike at 70
By CHINUA ACHEBE
Special toUSAfricaonline.com andUSAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
(May 4, 2001; Bard College, NewYork): The attainment of the biblicalthree-score-and-ten years by Professor Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike shouldbe an occasion for national celebration. It should be an opportunityfor a grateful nation torecord its appreciation for the work of a great public servant who isalso a profoundly important literary artist.
I have known Chukwuemeka Ike since ourteenage years first as a contemporary at Government College, Umuahiaand then at University College, Ibadan; and I regard this longacquaintance which matured into close friendship as one of the richblessings of my life. But more to the point, it gives me theauthority to reflect on this man who is in reality a most uncommonphenomenon.
Ike began his working life as AssistantRegistrar at Ibadan.His choice of university administration in the crucial 1950s decadewhen Nigeria was embarking on a vast and explosive educationalexpansion was right for the times and right for his own temperamentand aptitude. Before too long, the new University of Nigeria atNsukka which had been founded in the year of Nigeria's independencewas looking for a Registrar and appointed Ike to that position.
He held it through the years leading to theCivil War (1967-1970), the war years themselves, and their aftermath.From this point onward Ike's career movement was from pinnacle topinnacle. He was appointed to head the restoration and re-opening ofthe university that had been severely damaged during the Civil War.Then came the prize appointment for him as Registrar of the WestAfrican Examinations Council, a prestigious position which ensuredthat a whole generation of secondary school leavers in former Britishcolonies in West Africa carried the imprimatur of Chukwuemeka Ike'ssignature on their certificate.
Ike's achievements in Nigerian and WestAfrican higher education are more than adequate to place any singleindividual in his nation's hall of fame and his nation in his debt.To add to this Ike's important contribution to Nigerianand African literature puts him onanother level altogether - in a class by himself. His novelschronicle in memorable fashion the lives, the hopes, the despair ofNigerians. In his fine satire of Nigerian academia, Naked Gods, Ikeachieves brilliant observation, light hearted humour and sombreseriousness. And that combination of light touch and serious purposeis the hallmark of his entire oeuvre. He explores our human conditionin terms we can all understand and in images that willendure.
Let us raise a toast to this greatNigerian!
Prof. Achebe, the most translated writer of African heritageand the developing world, is the author of Things FallApart (1958); No Longer at Ease (1960), and Arrow of God (1964--rev.1974), Anthills of the Savannah (1987),Home and Exile (2000) and numerous essays on the sociology of Africanlife and literature. He is a resident scholar at Bard College, NewYork, and recipient of numerous awards forscholarship.
Chinua Achebe: The Voice of Ancient and Modern Africa.
Achebe, scholar, social conscience, cultural historian and globally-acclaimed writer, has been a significant and binding source for an engaging understanding of African pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial history and realities. I believe that such insight has made him a favorite of African-Americans, and other scholars and regular folks in search of a better, realistic understanding of Africa, at least, from Achebe's utilization of his rich and dynamic Igbo ancestry, in south eastern Nigeria. I share the same ancestry, and he's one of my mentors.
By Chido Nwangwu
Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu
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