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.
Here it is enjoy
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?
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,
The second part continues tomorrow.! Tuesday May 28.
The Guardian Newspaper