Things Fall Apart Come Together (Elegy for Chinua Achebe)
By Prof. Chris Ulasi
The sound of the fallen Iroko tree was audible to our eyes.
And the answer to that great African puzzle has yielded disbelief
Among its ardent faithfuls, believers without illusionary burden.
The Eagle on the Iroko returned to where things finally came together
And wondering what destiny and history resolved to leave behind.
Alas, the Eagle left at Iroko’s fated clock bewildered but satisfied.
The gong of Ikenga, inspired by history to sound a cautionary note, now echoless
Inside a trapped resolve of bifurcated cousins fathered by Africa’s
Battered future: hope stained by self doubts and unsteady gait.
We now know that Hopes and Impediments heralded the Eagle’s departure–
What was Achebe’s promise to literature before the Iroko fell?
What artist heard his clarion call and heeded their soul’s voice?
“What story understands where the rain stopped to beat Us”?
What lesson left unheeded claim adherents of wilted souls?
What harvest plucked from plants nurtured by artful propagation?
His voice, like the storied wisdom of the sage, was always
A reason for the patient morning sun to signal a new day.
A grateful world whose literature, one-eyed before Okonkwo’s chagrin,
Now have fair-minded company to compare it to:
“When something stands, something else stands next to it.”
He penned our story because he didn’t trust a jaundiced picture
of his forebears painted with bile of inhumanity and bigotry.
To answer the universal question posed by a puzzled literature,
A well-deserved Nobel Prize fashioned a myth to erase
The tragedian authority of Things Fall Apart—
Now that the literary forest is filled with your wit
and laughter–Soaked in aplomb, bent forward
To justify our doubts, your soul, like your mind,
Will engage forever a redoubtable world, appreciative and
Pained, that something immense and immeasurable lived here.
•Ulasi, executive editor of USAfrica, teaches communications at the Texas Southern University in Houston.
Long Live, CHINUA ACHEBE! The Eagle on the iroko.
By Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (Governance, Security, and Peace in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown University, is the Publisher of USAfrica and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com
Africa’s most acclaimed and fluent writer of the English Language, the most translated writer of Black heritage in the world, broadcaster extraordinaire, social conscience of millions, cultural custodian and elevator, chronicler and essayist, goodwill ambassador and man of progressive rock-ribbed principles, the Eagle on the Iroko, Ugo n’abo Professor Chinua Achebe, joined his ancestors a few hours ago, at the age of 82, in a peaceful and graceful transition in the warm company of his family.
Reasonably, Achebe’s message has been neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime. He’s our pathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans and lovers of the fine art of good writing. Achebe’s cultural contexts are, at once, pan-African, globalist and local; hence, his literary contextualizations soar beyond the confines of Umuofia and any Igbo or Nigerian setting of his creative imagination or historical recall.
His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective of the true essence of his/our Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing and disposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures) this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce, juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of the vitality of the individual/self.
In Achebe’s works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology… it is a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude while taking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community. I’ve studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, the rigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed in most of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, because I share the same Igbo ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a brief sentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle on the Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one like you! Ugo n’abo, chukwu gozie gi oo!
FULL text of this tribute-commentary at USAfricaonline.com click link