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Chinua Achebe’s work on earth was magnificently done. By Chike Momah

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TRIBUTE TO CHINUA ACHEBE (IKEJIMBA) 1930-2013

By CHIKE MOMAH

Special to USAfricaonline.comAchebeBooks.com, the USAfrica-powered e-groups of  Nigeria360IgboEventsUNNalumni,  and CLASSmagazine Houston.                                                                    Follow USAfrica Facebook.com/USAfricaChido n Twitter.com/Chido247

 

Chinua Achebe was a compelling figure, straight out of a Biblical saga. He was also, rather more prosaically, a friend who was so close, he was like a brother. A few hours after his death was blazed around the world, I received a condolence call from a member of our Dallas (Texas) Igbo community. This friend asked me if I was sure Chinua and I did not share an umbilical cord. Another person, this time a Reverend gentleman, expressed his condolences in rather more risqué language. “Your friendship with Chinua,” he said, “reminds me of the biblical story of David and Jonathan.”

Chinua-Achebe_holding-his-headI would be lying through my teeth if I said I was not flattered by the language in which the two condolences were couched. But while I gloried in the way my friendship with Chinua was perceived by these two gentlemen, two things struck me about the manner their perceptions were expressed. The reference to Chinua and I sharing an umbilical cord will be easily recognized for what it was: a humorous turn of phrase. But when the clergyman reached for his Bible in search of relational equivalences, he lighted on one of the most emotional passages in Holy Scripture: David lamenting the death of Jonathan, whose love for him, David sang, “was wonderful, passing the love of women!” The love of women? I ask you!

The clergyman’s Biblically inspired phraseology also set me thinking in an unusual direction. I thought about it for a long while, and then – eureka! – it hit me. Chinua Achebe’s story, the saga of his life, is a story of almost Biblical proportions. He rose so far above his humble birth, and above his innate humility – as a human being, a classmate in school, and a friend – that nothing about him seemed ordinary. And, amazingly, his stratospheric rise to greatness, fame and universal acclaim was, at least, twice predicted: first, in 1943, by his and my primary school Headmaster, Mr. Okongwu, as sagacious an observer of humanity as you are likely to meet; and, about a dozen years later, by Chinua himself, albeit innocently.

Chinua did not prophecy, in so many words, that he would, one day, be a great man. But, about two years BEFORE he even began to write his epochal novel (THINGS FALL APART; published in 1958), he wrote the following words to a mutual friend: “Yes, there may be many stars in the firmament, but some shine brighter than others.” My memory, at my fairly advanced age, is like a sieve but, as near as I can remember, those were his exact words. I know this because I saw and read the letter he wrote to the friend, and I was involved in the sequence of events that led to that innocent prediction. The mutual friend, I am happy to relate, also achieved considerable success, in his own right, as a novelist. Glory be!

Headmaster Okongwu’s prophecy was couched in more straightforward and unambiguous language. In 1943, as I was sweating over my preparations for the entrance examination to Government College, Umuahia (G.C.U. – a boys’ high school), along came my Headmaster. He regarded me for a moment or two, and then uttered his immortal words: “If,” he said, “you do well enough in the exam to gain admission to the school, I predict you will there meet a boy called Albert Achebe, and Albert will make the rain that will drench you!!! (This was a boy he last saw in 1940, when Chinua was ten years old.) In the upshot, I gained admission to GCU. Chinua also did, on a merit scholarship! This was in January 1944.

The rest is history. In the middle of 1944, our first year in high school, Chinua was promoted, with five other boys, to class two. First drenching! From then till his high school graduation in 1948, he was the best student in his new class. That same year, he won a merit scholarship (one of only six or seven awarded that year) to the University College, Ibadan (U.C.I.). To study MEDICINE!! U.C.I. was then the only institution for tertiary education in the country. He changed courses at the end of his freshman year, and I caught up with him one more time. This was in 1949. We both graduated, Bachelor of Arts, in the same subjects, in 1953. Throughout those four years, our professors and lecturers, again and again, let us know that Chinua was, not only the best student in the class, but also the best writer of English. He achieved the best result in our degree examination. Second drenching!!

I need not belabor the point. More drenching followed, fast and furious! Within five years of our graduation, Chinua published THINGS FALL APART. Other novels followed, and success followed hard on success. The inevitable consequence followed. Chinua, force majeure, began to shift out of my orbit. He discovered, as his friends did too, that he had been drawn onto a world stage – to all of humanity, and not just to a narrow circle of friends and admirers.

He was, as I have dared to proclaim elsewhere, the best writer of English that I think I have ever read. He is, for me, its most mellifluous exponent. If the reader disagrees with this spectacular claim, I plead that beauty is in the beholder’s eye. I speak for myself and, perhaps, for a continent. There is no writer, living or dead, who has demonstrated, in greater measure than Chinua, the ability to weave a tapestry of words taken from the Queen’s English and from the proverbs and aphorisms of his own mother tongue, Igbo.

He certainly rose above the British colonial quagmire to which our people were condemned for a century and more, to write the language of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Stevenson and, yes, even Conrad, with a mastery that takes the breath away. When we were reading those authors, in high school and in college, we did not think – we dared not think – that we would produce a Chinua Achebe. Later, he was to pick a bone or two with Conrad’s racially slanted writings, but that is another story!

I might have sometimes been tempted to look at Chinua, and think (again, Biblically): Is this not the carpenter’s son? But I can say, truthfully, that I never succumbed to that temptation. He bestrode my world like the colossus that he was, and I rejoiced with him as he scaled the heights of literature to its pinnacle. No, he was no mere carpenter’s son for me.

During the years Chinua and I were in high school and university, my contacts with the senior Achebe were few and far between. My memory of him is, at best, very sketchy now. But Chinua’s old man was no carpenter, though I have no doubt that he was largely responsible for chiseling Chinua, in his formative years, into the exquisite product that has dazzled the world for more than half a century, since THINGS FALL APART was published in 1958.  

Chinua should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Prize committee members are probably the only persons, on earth, who know why he was denied this recognition of his literary stature, and of his influence on more than two or three generations of African writers. And on other writers worldwide! Tony Morrison (the Nobel laureate) acknowledged Chinua as one of her main literary inspirations in writing about her own people. Chinua’s most celebrated contemporary and fellow Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel laureate, also acknowledged Chinua as a trail-blazer. Enough said!

Chinua now belongs to the ages, his work on earth magnificently done. No one could have asked for more from even a genius of his breath-taking dimensions. Regrettably, Chinua had to live out the last twenty-three years of his life wheelchair-bound – the result of a vehicular accident in 1990. This is the reason, above all else, that my wife, Ethel and I (and Chinua’s other friends) are especially appreciative of the love and devotion of Odozi-ngwulu, his beautiful wife, Professor Dr. Christiana Achebe – Ana to Chinua himself, Christie to the rest of us!

My appreciation also extends to their children, Chinelo, Ike, Chidi and Nwando, of whom one is a medical doctor, and the other three achieved doctorates in academia. Apropos of this, Ethel sometimes teasingly told Chinua he was the least educated member of his family!! I was his best-man when he married Christie, and he was godfather to my son, Chukwudi (Chidi).

His last book, There Was A Country,

Chike-Momah-wt-kolanut-pixkwenu

Chike-Momah-wt-kolanut

the story of Biafra, and of man’s inhumanity to man – was like a concluding and thunderous exclamation mark on his life as a writer! The buzz it generated has scarcely died down, as I write this.

I stand, in humility, in the shadow of Chinua Achebe’s greatness and, yes, of his almost Biblical stature!!! In the language of the Bard: when comes such another?

Nnabuenyi Momah’s tribute is his second revision of a piece (Reflection on Chinua Achebe) which he wrote in 2000, and revised in 2007. Achebe’s passing, in the third week of March 2013, has necessitated this update; sent to USAfricaonline.com from his base in Arlington, Texas; April 2013.  He is the author of several novels and retired international agencies staff. His book review-exclusive interview with USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu was published here on USAfricaonline.com and across the platforms of USAfrica e-groups on March 7, 2012. https://usafricaonline.com/2012/03/17/usafricabooks-profile-chike-momah-on-his-novels-achebe-by-chido-nwangwu/

• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.comAchebeBooks.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including Nigeria360 at yahoogroups and USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido and Twitter.com/Chido247 

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


WHY I CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND WORKS OF NELSON MANDELA.
 By Chido Nwangwu
  https://usafricaonline.com/2010/07/15/mandela-why-i-celebrate-his-life-works-by-chido-nwangwu/

Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and the Nigeria360 e-grouphttps://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/ : IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary at USAfricaonline.com https://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/

Jonathan’s Boko Haram problem and firing of Ringim. By Chido Nwangwu
https://usafricaonline.com/2012/01/25/jonathans-boko-haram-problem-and-firing-of-ringim-by-chido-nwangwu/

Related insight: USAfrica’s October 17, 2001 special report/alert: Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwuhttps://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html

http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=USAfrica+Chido+Nwangwu+al-qaeda+terrrorism+nigeria&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

https://usafricaonline.com/tag/al-qaeda/ 

Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: https://usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/

News archives related to Jos, here https://usafricaonline.com/?s=jos

310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html

http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

Trump looks foolish and crazy screaming about Obama’s birth certificates, college records and Muslim connection. By Raynard Jackson

In the light of an icon, my mentor Stanley Macebuh (1942-2010)By Chido Nwangwu  https://usafricaonline.com/2011/03/07/stanley-macebuh-tribute-by-chido-nwangwu/  

Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChidoFacebook.com/USAfrica247 n Twitter.com/Chido247

—- 

• Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwuhttps://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=USAfrica+Chido+Nwangwu+al-qaeda+terrrorism+nigeria&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 https://usafricaonline.com/tag/al-qaeda/ 310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

Jonathan’s Boko Haram problem and firing of Ringim. By Chido Nwangwu https://usafricaonline.com/2012/01/25/jonathans-boko-haram-problem-and-firing-of-ringim-by-chido-nwangwu/

Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: https://usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/

News archives related to Jos, here https://usafricaonline.com/?s=jos 310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

 

Trump looks foolish and crazy screaming about Obama’s birth certificates, college records and Muslim connection. By Raynard Jackson

——

In the light of an icon, my mentor Stanley Macebuh (1942-2010). By Chido Nwangwu  https://usafricaonline.com/2011/03/07/stanley-macebuh-tribute-by-chido-nwangwu/

The greatest Igbo ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s great farewell in Aba. By Chido Nwangwu   https://usafricaonline.com/2012/02/28/the-greatest-igbo-odumegwu-ojukwu-farewell-in-aba-by-chido-nwangwu

USAfrica: Ikemba ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s farewell in Aba, today February 28, 2012, reflected a fitting tribute, historically meaningful celebration, proper regard and deserving appreciation of the greatest Igbo, in my opinion, to have ever lived (like him or hate him).

I SALUTE Aba (aka Enyimba city), the robust and fearless town I was born, bred and raised, for giving the Ikemba, our Ochiagha, Gburugburu, Oka oburu uzo, dike na ndu ma n’onwu, mgbadike anyi, a hero’s farewell.

To the Ikemba, may your valiant soul rest in peace and dignity.

We will, and I, Chido Nwangwu, will never forget to continue to tell my generation and the next about your towering courage through tempest and thunder; through sorrow, pain, tears, blood…. •Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards, was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn.

News: At Ojukwu memorial in Dallas Texas, USAfrica’s Chido Nwangwu challenges the Igbo nation to say never again like Jews.

Ojukwu trouble and Ikemba titles. By Chido Nwangwu

USAfrica: Awolowo’s Starvation Policy against Biafrans and the Igbo requires apology not attacks on Achebe. By Francis Adewale. 

Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal

USAfrica: As Egypt’s corrupter-in-chief Mubarak slides into history’s dustbin.  By Chido Nwangwuhttps://usafricaonline.com/2011/01/30/chido-nwangwu-as-egypt-corrupter-in-chief-mubarak-slides-into-historys-dustbin-egyptians-not-waiting-for-obama-and-united-nations/

 

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AFRICA

Gabon President Ali Bongo recovering from an undisclosed illness in Saudi Arabia

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Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba is recovering from an undisclosed illness in Saudi Arabia and still performing his duties, according to a statement released on Sunday amid mounting speculation about his health.

The issue is a particularly sensitive one in the Central African nation. When Bongo’s father died in 2009 after more than four decades in power, Gabonese officials angrily denied French media reports of his death for almost a day, and shut down the internet in the country for several hours.

The statement said that Ali Bongo was suffering dizziness at his hotel in Riyad, Saudi Arabia on Oct. 24 when he sought medical care at King Faysal Hospital.

The information about the president’s health is “extremely reassuring” and the president “continues to perform his duties,” the presidency said.

The communique came amid a swirl of rumors over the president’s health back home in the Central African nation. Some media reports suggested that Bongo had suffered a stroke, though government spokesman Ike Ngouoni cautioned people about “fake news”.

“It would be in his interest entirely to make his presence. I think they’re not putting him in front of the cameras intentionally,” said Douglas A. Yates, a Paris-based Gabon expert.

One of the world’s largest producers of oil, Gabon’s wealth is far from evenly distributed. About a third of the population, estimated to be below 2 million people, live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

The elder Bongo, who ruled the oil-rich nation from 1967 until his 2009 death, was viewed by many as the father of the nation. His time in power, though, was dogged by allegations of corruption and the use of oil profits for personal luxuries, including properties in several European and American cities, and lavish trips abroad.

Ali Bongo won a special presidential election that was held a few months after his father’s death. The opposition claimed it was rigged.

In 2016, protesters took to the streets of the capital, Libreville, and the Parliament building was burned after Bongo’s opponent, Jean Ping, accused Bongo of vote-rigging. The European Union, the United States, and France also expressed concerns about some of the results. Gabon’s constitutional court later upheld Bongo’s victory. AP

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Nigerian army posts Trump video to justify shooting muslim Shiites

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Buhari-clasped-USAfrica

Nigeria’s army (has) posted a video of US President Donald Trump saying soldiers would shoot migrants throwing stones to justify opening fire on a Shiite group (last) week.

In the video, Trump warns that soldiers deployed to the Mexican border could shoot Central American migrants who throw stones at them while attempting to cross illegally.

“We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” said Trump in remarks made on Thursday.

“I told them (troops) consider it (a rock) a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexican military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”

Nigeria’s defence spokesman John Agim told AFP that the army posted the video in response to criticism that its security forces had acted unlawfully.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said 49 of its members were killed after the army and police fired live bullets at crowds who marched near and in the capital Abuja. The army’s official death toll was six.

Amnesty International said Wednesday it had “strong evidence” that police and soldiers used automatic weapons against IMN members and killed about 45 people in an “unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police”.

The United States embassy in Nigeria said Thursday it was “concerned” and called for an investigation.

“The video was posted in reaction to the Amnesty International report accusing the army of using weapons against pacifist Shiite protesters…. Not only did they use stones but they were carrying petrol bombs, machetes and knives, so yes, we consider them as being armed,” said Agim.

“We intervened only because the IMN members are trying to harm our people, they are always meeting us…at security check points and trying to provoke us, they even burned a police vehicle.”

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is almost evenly split between a mostly Muslim north — which is predominantly Sunni — and a largely Christian south.

Experts have warned the government that a heavy-handed response to the group risks sparking conflict in a volatile region where poverty is widespread.

IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in custody since 2015, when an army crackdown killed 300 of his supporters who were buried in mass graves, according to rights groups.

Zakzaky is facing a culpable homicide charge in connection with the 2015 violence. He remains in jail despite a court order granting him bail.

On Thursday, 120 of 400 IMN members arrested by police on Monday were  charged with “rioting, disturbance of public peace and causing hurt,” said a court official in Abuja on Friday.

According to court documents seen by AFP, the IMN members had been ordered to disperse but they “refused and started throwing stones at the police officers and other members of the public and thereby caused them bodily harm”.

All the suspects pleaded not guilty and were granted bail with the court hearing to resume on December 5.

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U.S calls on Nigeria to investigate killings of Shiite muslims by soldiers

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The United States embassy in Nigeria said on Thursday it was “concerned” and called for an investigation after supporters of an imprisoned Shiite cleric were killed in clashes with security forces.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said 49 of its members were killed this week after the army and police fired live bullets at crowds who marched near and in the capital Abuja, calling into doubt the military’s official death toll of six.

“The United States embassy is concerned by the deaths resulting from clashes between Nigerian security forces and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in areas surrounding Abuja,” said the US embassy in a statement.

“We urge government of Nigeria authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the events and to take appropriate action to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Nigerian law. We urge restraint on all sides,” it added.

Amnesty International said on Wednesday it had “strong evidence” that police and soldiers used automatic weapons against IMN members and killed about 45 people.

“We have seen a shocking and unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police against IMN members,” said Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osai Ojigho.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is almost evenly split between a mostly Muslim north – which is predominantly Sunni – and a largely Christian south.

Experts have warned the government that a heavy-handed response to the group risks sparking conflict in a volatile region where poverty is widespread.

IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in custody since 2015, when an army crackdown killed 300 of his supporters, who were buried in mass graves, according to human rights groups.

Zakzaky is facing a culpable homicide charge in connection with the 2015 violence, and is in jail despite a court order granting him bail. ref: AFP

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