Tuesday this week, I presented my maiden play at the Rift Valley Drama festivals. It was titled ‘there was a county’. (from Achebe’s latest book there was a country ).
Two days later when I was called with news of his demise, I wouldn’t let it sink in.
We writers always have an unexplainable bond, especially if an author graced your formative years. So, I still consider Achebe’s passing; in Shakespeare’s’ words, an untimely frost in midsummer.
Even in his death, I cannot shrug off the sense of betrayal that I hangs onto because, fine writers like Achebe need not die; they should forever be cast in an immortal paradise where their modern day counterparts will stare dreamily, refusing to write about them because no one can fathom what colors to paint their lives with.
An old Igbo proverb says of God, ‘he holds the knife and holds the yam ‘. This resilient and controversial man refused to let life break him. Even when about twenty years back, he was confined to a wheelchair after a bad accident abroad. He lived on, in our heads and hearts. Refusing prestigious presidential awards because he was convinced’ the trouble with Nigeria’ was in its poor leadership.
Refusing to sell the title of his book things fall apart to 50 cent who had done a movie by that name and wanted to buy title right was because Achebe found 50 Cents ignorance about the existence of his book inexcusable.
Achebe mentored youthful Nigeria n writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who coincidentally moved into a house that Achebe had lived in while lecturing at the University of Ibadan.
Like the biblical king David of old, Achebe lived to a good old age and as I listened to my colleagues reminiscing over Okonwo in Umuofia, I am without a shadow of doubt convinced that he made his mark. This man who is now gone to join other fine writers like T.S Elliot, Barbara kimenye, Enid Blyton, ken Saro- Wiwa and Bessie Head.
This legendary writer who never won the Nobel prize for literature.