By. Nwachukwu Joshua
When a child is born, although we do not think of it, it is inevitable and a guaranteed fact that he/she must die, but what is not known is when, where and how.
The name Chinua Achebe, which is recognised in and outside the shores of not only Nigeria but Africa, is a name that has attracted numerous appellations and praises.
When we hear of Chinua Achebe, one may be tempted to think- because of his greatness and achievements- that he was neither born nor sucked his mother breast.
Notwithstanding his greatness, it did not extend to the fact of him defying the natural process of procreation; he was born on November 16, 1930 in the village of Ogidi to Isaiah and Janet Achebe. At the time of his birth, many people did not know including his parents and relatives that he would be an African literary titan and when he was going to die.
As such the world received with rude shock, the death of Chinua Achebe on 21st March, 2013.
I knew about his death from a friend who I had asked to get me There Was a Country, when I got the text I was surprised, because I thought nature would have the least respect to exempt some beautiful persons from the hand of death. You know people like Chinua Achebe were so good that I thought they would not die. Afterwards it seems I was wrong. Death is very independent of man’s thoughts including mine.
Although, physically, Achebe is very far from with us, he was lucky to be on the stage for a long time, and he played his role beautifully and his foot print unlike others would not easily be forgotten, on the other hand, this indelible marks of his which has left a bold print on the pages of time gives us the compelling task to learn both from his mistakes and good examples.
Achebe with his life challenges us to be great, and different, borrowing the words of motivational speakers, to find the You in you.
Just like in our times where there is a craze for bright student to study either Medicine, engineering or law, that craze was very much in existence in the 1960 when Achebe went to study medicine under a bursary, but after a gruelling work , not minding losing his bursary he changed to English. Am sure then people would have looked down on him for such a degrading choice. But through his pen he brought Nigeria to a positive lime light and showed that the African continent is rich not only with mineral resources and corrupt leaders, but also with greatly talented persons, with his works he built a bridge for African writers to showcase to the world the splendour of their literary gifts. His disciples include, Chimamanda Adiche, James Ngugi and a good friend of mine Chinwuba Iyizoba, author of ‘After the Juju Man’
Achebe challenges us to use our gift in so far as they are honourable for the common good. He also teaches that to make a positive impact in our society and to have a life of meaning we must not be doctors or lawyers, or have the World Bank at our finger tips, we can use our gifts no matter how little and insignificant.
This is a call to parents not to frustrate their children by demanding, their children or wards do ‘professional courses’. Rather they should help their children utilize their potentials i.e. to be the best in whatever they can and want to do and change society.
They are many Nigerians who have the gift of writing, singing, comedy, dancing, painting, and a lot more. These are areas which the government in collaboration with families and schools should pay attention to, rather than forcing students to abandon this gift and read medicine or law. With things not only do dreams become fulfilled but also the opportunities for jobs become very broad and varied. What would have happened if Achebe became a doctor?
It is good to sound the clarion call that no course is more important than the other or none is useless. I have been in the midst of students who sometimes feel ashamed of their courses.
They should not, rather they should see how to make their course lively and attractive and if possible important. In the times of Achebe, Nigerian literature was not vibrant, but with Chinua Achebe it made Nigerian and African literature, a must read, it created a situation, where to be a complete human person is dependent on reading Things Fall Apart.
His demise is heavy and I condole with his family members, the world was lucky to have had Achebe, I also thank the family for sharing him with us.