Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chinualumogu nwa Achebe: A Tribute


by

Obododimma Oha


Onwu egbula okaelo: our wish, our prayer, our message. Yes, for if Death takes okaelo the sage away from our age, his people are in danger of walking an endless night from which no agbala can deliver them. But Death has his eyes on your choicest fruit. Ripe or unripe, he must harvest it. Does that not also grow some amamihe in the land? For the cow never fully appreciates the value of its tail until it is cut off. We hear that the okeosisi has fallen in Ogidi. It is news, shocking news, dreadful news, crippling news. News too heavy to be carried on the lips. Listen and you would hear the entire egwugwu of this trembling land gnashing their teeth and looking for an appropriate language to tell it to the world.... 

Ogbuefi Chinualumogu nwa Achebe has taken hold of his regal oji and now walks majestically into the Sacred Light of the Ancestral Circle at Eke mmuo! 

Onwu melu dike alu. We fear that even if we send a letter to him, he would not hasten and return. Onwu melu dike alu. Yes, Death has dealt a terrible blow to the gallant one. And Death has dealt a devastating blow to the community. And death has told the people of the ilo that ukwa the breadfruit must fall when its time is due. And Death tells the living: "You the termite, keep flying but you'll surely fall for the waiting, hungry toad!" 

Whether there was a country or there wasn't, the undying eziokwu is that all bicycles must visit the repairman. The trouble with many in this uncomfortable gathering of the tribes is that they cannot listen, and even when they listen, they cannot hear the lament of the ants. 

No, it wasn't the past of a people that fell apart; it is its future. 
No, it isn't the strong-willed priest-king that has become the arrow of a god; it is the people's unwillingness to die trying. 
No, it isn't the land that is no longer at ease; it is its pen-wielding ambassadors who no longer understand what it means to be the "eyes" and "ears" of their disturbed communities. 

When a man becomes a man, he begins to live as an idea. Ogbuefi Achebe, you now live as an idea, having refused to be made in the image of the alu that reigns in the storyland. Onye kwe, chi ya e kwelu! And Ogbuefi, in asking your chi to fight for you, to fight for your people, you became the affirmation. For those that fight for themselves without submitting to alu, fight for their chi, and their chi readily answers YES to the submissions of their hearts. They hold the ofo and the ogu as they approach the umunnadi of the storied land.

Onwu egbula okaelo! Indeed, you live on, storyteller and sage. You are here and there in the Chinua Achebe idea, forever. How can death actually kill you when it has lifted you to the glory of one of the finest nwoke that the land knows or will ever produce? Death only kills the okaelo when we search the hearts of his people and cannot find the idea, his idea! And Death that kills a people is the one that takes away their memory of the idea. 

Ochie dike Achebe! What ekwe calls you is what uhie calls you:
Nwoke teghete! 
Nwoke mgbe gboo! 

Chinualumogu nwa Achebe, naa gboo, for you will return to live in the hearts of your people forever!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Basikolo nile anaghi ejekwa repair shop; ndi ocha na-atufu nke oche golu nke ofulu. Asikwanu na nna anyi no n'obodo alu welu nyawa mmelu ahu ugbo ala melulu ya, onye ma ma o ga adi luo otu odilulu? Ebe otu nwanyi asi na afa ya bu Ndidi si na ya si n'onwu bilie ka izu uka gachalu n'ulo ogu ndi ocha, gini jizi nkita onwu n'ala ndi iberibe? Ebezina maka na ebubedike bu anwu-anwu; amamihe ya bu eriwe erigbu-erigbu.

Joseph said...

Great one... great passage. Truly a great event; even if sad, too. Now, all the Egwugwu masquerades are abroad...suddenly, in broad daylight...the Ozo Mmanwu, too...the revered and the esoteric; they sing their dirge that is also ululation in welcome of one: their own. I hear an Ozo-Mmanwu in your tribute; I hear an Egwugwu in your dirge.