There has been the usual noise making by perfidious politicians and other such rabble rousers of questionable character, who in their dubious quest for relevance are requesting that Chinua Achebe be immortalised through the naming of streets and other national institutions after him. It is either these unscrupulous politicians are suffering from bouts of “amnesia” or they are engaged in sheer deceit which after all is their stock in trade. If the hustling “lootocrat” politicians scratched their heads hard enough or pooled the wool of deceit from their eyes, they would very well remember Achebe as a man who never shared their sadistic world of vanity, oppression, injustice and corruption. Chinua Achebe is an intellectual warrior and sage who literarily wore a “halo” of integrity, humility and chastity around his head until the end of his journey on this earth.
Unlike the monumentally corrupt and morally bankrupt sadists, psychopaths and fraudsters who populate the Nigerian political class, invested in nothing other than the vandalisation of the nation and dehumanisation of the citizenry, Chinua Achebe feared neither God nor man. Donned in battle fatigue and dug into the trench, he waged endless wars against the serial mis-rulers of Nigeria and against racist imperialists like Joseph Conrad who in his book “heart of darkness” caricatured Africans as wild beasts lacking in any civilisation. His book “a man of the people” published in 1966, derided the blatant corruption and excesses of the post colonial leaders while “the trouble with Nigeria” published in 1983 remains the most surgical, daring, audacious and stinging truth spoken to power and is an indelible and timeless testament of Nigeria’s unrelenting curse of bad leadership in the five decades since independence.
Rather than the easy choice and option of participating in the lucre and lure of Nigeria’s decrepit, primitive, ignorant and unconscionable leadership cabal, Chinua Achebe stood in firm and uncompromising opposition against them. He repeatedly turned down national awards from the Nigerian government as a form of protest against the corruption, insensitivity and misrule of the Nigerian establishment. Chinua Achebe was never a man who ran away from a good fight in the cause of justice and equality, and it was a fight he undertook through thick and thin, through toil and sweat until he passed on to immortality, to reside where angels dwell.
For a man like Achebe who abhorred and indeed battled the Nigerian government over corruption and misrule, it is nothing short of an abomination to propose as some dubious politicians are doing the naming of Nigerian roads or institutions after him. The Chinua Achebe that I know would never have accepted such a tainted idea in his lifetime, definitely not with the ongoing looting and misrule by those who constitute Nigeria’s government. It would thus amount to a desecration of Achebe’s values and character for anything originating from the present misrulers of the Nigerian space to bear his name.
Indeed Achebe does not need to be immortalised for he is already immortal. His life, work, legacy and character are etched in stone. As I did a scan of the media over his burial, I counted more than twenty international publications from as far away as India to as near as Uganda that reported his burial. The electronic media was also agog in different parts of the globe with graphic reports of his burial. The global media took note of the passing of a legend and all without exception described him as a literary icon and a social crusader who fought relentlessly against corruption and misrule. Such an applause and recognition by an unbiased global audience is more than anything a testament of his place in history. Such a man thus; does not need to be immortalised for his work, life and times has already immortalised him.
However If the unscrupulous politicians in whose company Achebe would never have been found are serious about their so called immortalisation of Chinua Achebe, they can do so by stopping the looting of the nations coffers, the oppression, dehumanisation and pauperisation of the citizenry, the sponsoring of ethno-religious conflicts and other acts of violence, the rigging of elections and arming of thugs, godfatherism and mediocrity in government. These, amongst other measures that enthrone social justice, good governance and leadership by example are the only possible altars upon which he can be immortalised by Nigeria’s decadent politicians.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu