Chimamanda Adichie, I had heard of her fame with the Purple Hibiscus, when she was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004 and then won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize For Best First Book in 2005, but for some reason, I never read the Purple Hibiscus, but I read one book - Half of A Yellow Sun . . . talk of emotional jostling - the book started so ordinarily, and then it hit the gusher, I was literally transported into the 1960's the feeling were so sharp I could feel and taste the air, the darkness, the pain, the gloom, the love, the story, it was as if I had time-travelled into the past. When I finished reading the story, the story began to read me. For days and weeks after, it was as if I walked in a trance of the reality of the book, I would suddenly start shedding tears about some incidence, or I would sometimes smile to myself. At other times, I would suddenly wish something in the book did not happen, especially when Kainene went off to "Afia Attack" days before the war ended, and never returned. I still feel the story as I write mine now . . . then I thought, maybe that is the power of a great story well told. While I told all my friends that cared or cared not to listen, the story, words were not enough to convey my innermost affixations to what I had read.
I used to think the art was dying or dead in this country and in this generation, but all of a sudden, I do not think the art is dead anymore, It seems to me that in this new generation, like in every other generations, we have to rediscover ourselves and the art which lies within us.
Just as I was going to write this blog, I heard of the demise of the eminent professor, poet, essayist and story teller - Professor Chinua Achebe. He passed on at the age 82, yesternight, in Boston USA. Without gainsaying, he was one of the greatest story tellers that ever lived, from Africa. Bold and agile, his story carved a niche for what we call African Literatures - Things Fall Apart, printed over 12 million copies, translated into 50 different languages, one major movie adaptation (that I know of), numerous awards and accolades. I recall the Prof. writing about the story Things Fall Apart and saying "The story conscripted me", one story written just at the beginning of a man's writing career, one story that almost got lost in transit, save for the goodwill of a sojourner who was returning home from working in Nigeria. I am awed by the works of Chinua Achebe, I recall the quotable line that was popular when we were children "When the Arrows of God Are No Longer At Ease, Things Fall Apart". I remember reading Arrow of God in junior school, watching the whole episode of Things Fall Apart on NTA in the mid 80s, interestingly; I haven’t read "No Longer at Ease". But I read "There Was a Country". Achebe refused to pass on to eternity with the story untold. As if the prophet-prof knew of his impending demise, he did not want to leave the next generation without an encouragement, and see how that encouragement fits into my opinion today “The story is not dead. . . . You cannot tell your story and then say the story is dead . . . . I must tell my own story . . . the story is not complete, because I haven't told mine yet". Chinua Achebe is not dead, he is with us, everywhere, his story, his books, his poems, his history.
Every generation must find its own voice, like Chinua Achebe said, we must tell our story, we must find a way to make our own inclusion to the body of knowledge. I like to end with this opinion of Luke, the writer of the Book of Luke from Luke Chapter 1: "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us . . . With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I TOO decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." The Book of Luke became one of the finest stories ever written, it became the most comprehensive story of the life and ministry of Jesus, it made it to the scriptures. . . . Your story, if you tell it, may make it to the scriptures.
Adieu Odenigbo, Professor Albert Chínụ̀álụmọ̀gụ̀ Àchèbé, (16 November 1930 – 22 March 2013). You have fought a good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith. You will live forever in our hearts.