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THEWILL EDITORIAL: Chinua Achebe: The Inspiration And The Beacon

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“As we mourn his passing and celebrate his life, we cannot but wonder at the conditions that kept him in exile: the lack of security and the perennial lack of basic human needs. But above all else, the terrible state of private and public infrastructure and what has become of the Nigerian educational system – especially at the university level.

For more than two decades, Achebe was associated with colleges and universities in the United States and elsewhere – thereby depriving countless number of home-based Nigerians and other Africans his superior talents and wisdom. This was not his fault. The Nigerian government and the Nigerian system made it impossible for him to continually and directly give the country all his best. What Nigeria lost, the world gained.”

SAN FRANCISCO, March 26, (THEWILL) – It is with a heavy heart that we note the passing of Albert Chinualumogu Achebe. His transition occurred on March 21, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was 82 years old. We wish his wife, Mrs. Christie Chinwe Achebe (nee Okoli) and their children (Chinelo, Ikechukwu, Chidi, and Nwando) and the larger Achebe family our heat-felt condolence. May Achebe be welcomed home by his ancestors; and may God almighty in his infinite grace and wisdom, grant him eternal rest, and welcome him to heaven.

Professor Chinua Achebe was a member of the finest generation to come out of Nigeria. Within the African continent, he was rightly considered the father of modern literature. And around the world, he was considered a towering man of letters. At home and abroad, he was an institution, the man from whom many in many generations drew inspiration and wisdom. In his private life, he loved and was loved and adored by his children and grandchildren and by his wife of 52 years.

As we mourn his passing and celebrate his life, we cannot but wonder at the conditions that kept him in exile: the lack of security and the perennial lack of basic human needs. But above all else, the terrible state of private and public infrastructure and what has become of the Nigerian educational system – especially at the university level.

For more than two decades, Achebe was associated with colleges and universities in the United States and elsewhere – thereby depriving countless number of home-based Nigerians and other Africans his superior talents and wisdom. This was not his fault. The Nigerian government and the Nigerian system made it impossible for him to continually and directly give the country all his best. What Nigeria lost, the world gained.

Achebe, as he himself had said elsewhere, would have loved to remain in Nigeria and nurture several generations of writers and scholars. But this was not to be. Nonetheless, he served Nigerians in many other ways. His was a life well lived: a life lived in the service of humanity. To us all, he was an inspiration and a beacon.

As condolence messages from all the corners of the world has shown he was a man who was truly well loved and well-regarded. He was a Nigerian, an African; but all through his life, he served and brought joy to the global community. In life and in death, therefore, Chinua Achebe was and continues to be a credit to humanity. And so we deeply mourn his passing, even as we celebrate an exceptional life. The world owes him a world of gratitude.

Thank you and farewell, Professor Achebe!


The Massacre At Sabon-Gari, Kano

Nigeria is not at war, yet, certain parts of the country feel like a war-zone. And especially in the last two years, thousands of our fellow citizens have been killed and or maimed; and untold number have had their property and future destroyed. And for a million or more, they live in an atmosphere of fear and destruction. How could this be, why should it be so?

How is it that a non-state actor like the Boko Haram sect has complete control in many northern enclaves? And in many of these places, the people are more afraid of the sect, than they are of the government. In essence, Boko Haram has complete control, while the Nigerian government, with its many security and intelligence agencies, appears helpless and powerless. This cannot and must not continue.

The incessant bombings and killings and maiming and destructions could, in the very near future, encourage majority of the people to switch allegiance to Boko Haram. After all, if the government cannot secure the people’s safety and property, the people have the right to bow and pledge allegiance to groups and or groups of person that can take care of their safety and security needs.

A second implication of these unending bombings is that it may trigger regional or country-wide retribution which may in turn lead to the sacking of government or a multiplication of non-state actors. Consider the shocking bombing of a commuter bus station in Sabon-Gari, area of Kano on Monday 18 March. Those killed were mainly Nigerians of Igbo extraction. If the victim’s friends, family, and community (back in Igbo land) had not been sensible and law-abiding, they easily could have embarked on revenge-killing.

Imagine a revenge-killing here, and a revenge-killing there. If this happens, the whole country would be in a state of anarchy. This government must also know that the actions of Boko Haram can also trigger a coup, a nasty revolution, or a general uprising that could lead to the sacking of this government.

The passing of every week gives Boko Haram the courage and the temerity to continue with its dastardly acts and in the process turning (at least) a portion of the country into a killing field. A time may come when the group may be tempted to take a shot at the National Assembly buildings, the Supreme Court compound, or even Aso Rock. This is not impossible. After all, the group had in the past brought down the United Nations building in Abuja. Bombing or touching the Presidential Villa will, in their perverse thinking, be a legitimate extension of their campaign. Authorities in Lagos over the weekend confirmed what many had feared with the arrest of some suspected Boko Haramists in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub.

We appeal to the Nigerian government to quickly find a solution to the activities of Boko Haram. The group must be dealt with either as a criminal or terrorist organization. Nigerians are tired of these killings and destructions. And they are especially tired of the feeble words of condolence and sympathy from the presidency. The time to act has long passed. Or, is the government waiting for the people to take the law into their own hands?