By Maik Ortserga

The drums sounded on Mpape hills, drawing the feet of writers and critics to a mega celebration on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th of May. It was the ten-year memorial of the legend, Chinua Ahebe, who, like Okonkwo, in Things Fall Apart, has thrown death –the unbeatable Amalinze the cat in a wrestling duel, to global acclaim.



The weighty celebration, which was held on the very relevant topic, “The Immortality of Creativity: Ten Years after Achebe’s Transition”, pulled together old and young writers in real and virtual time, to commemorate the legacy of the iconic writer.


The venue was Mamman Vatsa Writers’ Village, Mpape Abuja. The members of the clan who converged to declare Chinua Achebe a global land mark included writers, intellectuals and scholars from far and wide. In looking at the immortality of Achebe, reliving his memory in the recollection of presentations, there was an opinion to match every taste.

Some maintained he was the Father of Modern African Literature, who had used his writing to change the perception of other races about Africa; others thought of the legend as a nationalist and a politician who was not partisan, and who apart from correctly dissecting the trouble with the country of his birth, opted to pitch tent with Aminu Kanu’s Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), instead Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), which was largely seen as an Igbo party. Yet others attributed Achebe’s one-way ticket to this world as a call to be a teacher, programmed to use his return ticket when his teaching assignment was done and dusted.

Some described him as a very soft-spoken gentleman who was blessed with the oratory that could kill a fly mid-air; others revealed that Achebe the novelist was equally imbued with the soul of a poet.

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Listening to the various opinions, the audience had a field day of being trapped and seduced as they were introduced to the many parts of Achebe. In the course of the two-days  event, speaker after speaker rode on the waves of applause from the excited audience. The line-up of guest speakers included the living legend, Prof. Femi Osofisan; Prof. Olu Obafemi, Prof. Damian Okpata, the VC of University of Abuja; Prof., Abdurrasheed N’ Allah, Prof. J.O.J Nwachukwu Agbada, Prof. Francis Ebokhare, Prof. Razinat Mohammed, Prof. Vicky Sylvester, Prof. Emmanuel Dan Daura, Lindsay Barret, Prof. Joe Ushie,  Prof. Mabel Evwierhoma and  Prof. Charles Aniagoro, who came with his pretty wife.

Others were Dr. John Otu; former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka;  pioneer Chairman of ANA in Bayelsa, Nengi Illagha; Prof. Ivan Williams from Venezuela and a host of others.

Contributing in virtual time were the likes of the Secretary General of Pan African Writers Association (PAWA), Dr. Wale Okediran; immediate past ANA president, Mallam Denja Abdullahi; Prof. Nduka Otiono from Canada, and others.

The first day of the event ushered in an evening of tributes and reminiscences on the legend. It was a moment for sober reflection as poetry and meditative renditions flew around the Chinua Achebe International Conference Centre (CAICC) like knives plunging deep into the souls yearning for a better world.

Through the glass panes of the gigantic hall one, could spot the moon standing at attention surrounded by a string of dazzling lights atop Mpape hills. This was quite symbolic of Chinua Achebe within the encirclement of kindred spirit. All the while, the Benue Takuruku entertainment troupe thrilled the audience with an assortment of performances.

In the pool of camaraderie within the hall, writers copiously fetched the words with which to express their mutual feelings about the Iroko of Modern African Literature. Thus, the  ANA family became siblings under one roof in the mega city. The developer of the writer’s village Col. K. Shawn, whose heart and pocket softens when faced with noble causes, was also on hand to cheer the group.

The second day opened at 10 am with presentations on the immortality of creativity, which was activated by the living legend, Prof. Femi Osofisan himself.  By now the press –that sensitive bird that feeds on news and information – did not take long to pick up the scent of the meat. It became a gathering of news reporters. Clicking their cameras left, right and centre, they gathered enough information and photographs to establish a newspaper /radio and television house all in one, so that the words of the nation’s most influential bylines would continue to venerate Chinua Achebe’s ten year memorial in the days to come.

By break time, an exclusive class of writers scaled the staircase to the ANA Institute For Creative Writing and Film Studies to sit in the state-of-the art lecture hall and consider the range and impact of Achebe on the growth of African, nay world literature. Students of the class included Prof. Osofisan, Prof. Obafemi, and the lecturer/moderator was Prof. N’Allah, who was, earlier in the day, adorned with hood and gown by Camillus Ukah, the overachieving president of ANA, during his induction as Fellow of the Association.

By evening of the second day ANA stretched her generosity to full limit with a sumptuous dinner that left many people staggering to their hotel rooms borne on the wings of Bacchus, the god of wine.

On Sunday 21st May, which was the day of departure, everybody was convinced that the event was a roaring success with the certainty that Achebe, like William Shakespeare, would continue to live in his works. Though his body might have faded away, his vision for a better world is still blazing with life without end and the memories of his life on earth will never be buried beneath the years of his absence.