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    Monday, March 25, 2013

    Anambra Elders Want State Burial For Literary Icon

    Anambra State Elders Council wants state burial for the Ikenga-Ogidi-born literary legend, Prof. Chinua Achebe who died last Friday in the United States at the age of 82. The council said the world renowned creative writer, whose death, it described as a loss not only to his immediate family or Nigeria but the entire world, needed not to be a government functionary before a state burial would be considered.

    Chairman of the council and former Ohanaeze Ndigbo president general, Dr. Dozie Ikedife said in his country home, Nnewi yesterday that Achebe deserved state burial because of his iconoclastic position in the world of literature and anthropology which instruments he had effectively used for nation-building and preservation of the culture and tradition of the blackman. He said although the literary icon had immortalized himself through his creative works, an appropriate institution should be named after him.

    The elder statesman said he was still confident that the works of Achebe would be read and talked about into the next century and beyond with the positive impacts they had made. “In an earlier stage we felt intimidated and frightful to write and talk about African culture, the way we do things, as if we were sorry about them. Those were the ways of our forefathers, ancestors and fore bearers.

    And through his writings, he was able to showcase the beauty of African culture. And these writings are historical, anthropological and educative which are read in schools, churches, village squares and in many gatherings because they touch so many areas of endeavour,” Dr Ikedife noted. The greatness of Achebe, he said, could only be compared with that of the late William Shakespeare and other world celebrated writers. He said: “For those of us who knew him one on one, we had shared conversations, arguments and things like that with him. We went to a different secondary schools.

    He went to Government College, Umuahia now in Abia State while I went to Denis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha but we were very close. He was a senior to me by three years. Our areas of interaction were on and off until his death. So it is a great loss.” Politically, he said Achebe’s book, There Was A Country, published not long ago provoked comments from people “both people who are logical and those who are illogical, both people who read the book and those who have not even read it.

    And it is remarkable that it is something you can look over but cannot over look.” He said the rage and attack on what the literary icon wrote made the elders council to issue a statement to the effect that what Achebe wrote was just the truth, adding that many of the elders were all eyewitnesses to the account in the controversial book. Ikedife said even though the late novelist rejected national honour when he was alive that it would not contradict his being given state burial.

    “The rejection of the national honour is symbolic and significant. He was making a statement by that rejection and that does not make him less a nationalist. He deserves a national burial,” he insisted.
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