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Last week marked a turning point in the history of contemporary and traditional literature, Nigeria, Africa and the world beyond. On Thursday May 23nd, the remains of Professor Chinua Achebe were laid to rest in his country home of Ogidi in Anambra state. With so many dignitaries in attendance, including the country’s number one citizen, President Goodluck Ebelemi Jonathan, Ghanaian president John Mahama, Former Vice President, Chief Alex Ekwueme, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah. But one person who took out his time to go the extra mile in respect of the dearly departed literary icon was Professor Wole Soyinka.

He not only wrote an abstract minded elegy, but also spiced it up with issues hovering around the present state of Nigeria, her crop of leaders and the future that lies ahead. Already some universities outside the shores of this country have begun an in-depth study of this write up.

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Late Professor Chinua Achebe

 

Here it is enjoy

I

Ah Chinua, are you grapevine wired?

It sings: our nation is not dead, not clinically

Yet now this may come as a surprise to you

It was to me. I thought the form I spied

Beneath the frosted glass of a fifty-carat catafalque

Was the face of our own dear land-“Own dear’

Voluntary patriotese’you’ll note-we try to please

An anthem’s sentiment upholds the myth

 

Doctors, IMF, World Bank and UNO refuse, it seems

To issue a certificate of death-if debtors die

May creditors collect? We shall turn Parsees yet

Lay this hulk in state upon the tower of silence

Let vultures prove what we have seen, but fear to say

For if leviathan is dead, we are the maggots

Probing still her monstrous womb-one certainty

That mimics life after death. Is the world fooled?

Is this the price of hubris-to have dared

Sound renaissance bugles for a continent?

 

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                                         Professor Wole Soyinka

Time was, our gazes roamed the land,. Godlike

Pronounce it good, from Lagos to Lake Chad

The hosts of interlopers would be exorcised,

Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater

Enthroning ours as ours. Bearing names

Lodged in marrow of the dead, attesting lineage

Consecrated brooms would sweep our earth

Clean of usurpers’ footprints. We marched

To drums of ancient skins, homoeopathic

Beat against the boom of pale-knuckled guns

We vied with the regal rectitude of Overamwen-No stranger breath-he swore-shall desecrate

This hour of communion with the gods!

We died with the women of Aba, they who held

A bridge head against white levy, armed with pestle

Sash and spindle, and a potent nudity-eloquent

Abomination in the timeless rites of wrongs

 

Grim cycle of embattled years. Again we died

With miners of Iva valley who undermined

More than mere seams of anthracite. All too soon,

Ma, we would augment, in mimic claims

In our own right, the register of martyrs .Oh

How we’ve exercised the right of righteous folly

In defence of alien rhetoric… what God has joined,

Etcetera

 

The second part continues tomorrow.! Tuesday May 28. 

Credits:

The Guardian Newspaper

Wole Soyinka

 

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