Prof. Chinualumogu Achebe’s last moments were recounted in a touchy discussion with his companion of 42 years, Prof. Tim Uzodinma Nwala, after the demise of the literary icon was announced.
who spoke in high spirits because of his position that “Achebe is
immortal,” said he cannot grieve over an outstanding man who lived fully
and left so much mark in history that he can never die.
noted that he was at the last Chinua Achebe International Colloquium at
the Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA between December 7
and 8 last year. Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State was the guest
He said: “Achebe personally invited my wife and I
because I have known him since 1971 when we worked at the Institute of
African Studies of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN)
was a senior research fellow, while some of us were juniors. So, at the
Colloquium, after the lectures, he took my wife and I home for dinner
where we had great time with his entire family.
“At dinner, he
personally spoke to me that the reason he invited me to the event was to
ask me to play a role in ensuring that the reason for his last book,
There was a Country is not lost in the heat of the bickering that
attended it. He spoke to me in pains that Nigerians had dropped the real
intent for his work to quarrel over what they thought was the plank.”
what Achebe told him was the target of the book, Nwala said: “Let us
look beyond his last book on Biafra and rather look at other books he
wrote that were purely on the essence of rebuilding Nigeria. He is the
father of African literature, and therefore a pan-Africanist, so he told
me that the reason he wrote the book was not to create bad blood, but
to tell the whole truth which he felt the nation needs badly to get
Achebe told me that he had lived for the hope of a
better Nigeria and his dream was to release the book with the truths to
confront the injustice that resulted in the war and still persist
thereby stopping the nation from progressing the way it should.
told me also that the second point for the book is to expose the
enormity of the wrongs committed against some Nigerians during the war,
so as to make sure such mistakes are not made again. The whole thing was
for a better and unified and healed Nigeria. That is the whole truth
the icon told me personally over dinner and I cannot falsify it.”
his death, Nwala said he had been in touch with Achebe’s two sons and
his wife, Christy, who was his contemporary in UNN in the past one
He said: “Sometime on Thursday, Ike, his first son called
to tell me that Achebe had been transferred to the intensive care unit.
Late Thursday night, I woke up to see six missed calls from Ike. When I
called back, he informed me that hope was dimming on the giant of
literature. I had to speak with his wife, and his second child, Chidi.
later in the early hours of yesterday, he called again to inform me
that the battle was over. He directed me to call Governor Peter Obi, the
Ohanaeze Ndigbo president, the Deputy Senate president, who
incidentally was in London and some others to tell them how it turned
out. I got hooked to the Secretary to the Anambra State government and
broke the news to him.”
In his tribute to the icon, Nwala noted:
“It is hard to say Achebe has passed on. I think he took his place among
the greatest like Homer, Pushkin, Shakespeare and other great writers.
Remember he was the author and founder of African literature, and these
live forever. So, I am not sad because Achebe is still here with us and
will continue to live as long humanity endures. I am proud that I knew
such a great man so closely. And I am convinced he played his role and
left the rest to history.