Barely eight days after the remains of renowned writer and essayist, Chinua Achebe, was committed to mother earth in his hometown, Ogidi, the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) has honoured him with a posthumous award for his enduring legacies.
Prof. Pat Utomi, who runs CVL, said Achebe is being honoured in the Leaders Without Title (LWT) series because he impacted society with his ideas without holding a political office.
Also speaking at the colloquium in honour of the late Achebe, former editor of The Guardian on Sunday, Jahman Anikulapo, said Achebe was one writer many did not fully understand.
In his paper titled: When Life Imitates Arts, Anikulapo said, Achebe had not only blamed leaders for Nigeria’s backwardness, he had also, in his works, blamed citizens, who failed to hold their leaders accountable and responsible for their development.
“I observed the recent controversies that followed, including the recent interview with Soyinka; I went back to read some of Achebe’s works. What really grabbed my attention is his contention about leadership. If you go back to Achebe’s works, in putting the leadership under the spotlight, he also points to followership,” Anikulapo said.
Chairman, Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, Dr. Chris Asoluka, who was involved in bringing Prof. Achebe back to Nigeria in 1999, said Achebe was so insightful in x-raying the conduct of leaders, and that his works were more of prophecy than mere fiction.
According to him, “Achebe’s art has provided a leeway for life; the real life experience now tends to gravitate towards Achebe’s art. If you look at his works from the point of political science, you will wonder if Achebe gave what seemed like a self-fulfilling prophesy, because with the conduct of the average politician in Nigeria, nothing seems new.”
Asoluka said, “Achebe understood the subject extremely well, such that whenever he spoke, he spoke with such uncanny insight. Initially, I disagreed with him, but in retrospect, Achebe is right with The Trouble with Nigeria, because the critical role of a leader is to mobilise his people, find solution and connect with the needs of his people. So, the absence of connection between those in leadership position and those, whose lot he claims he will address, has always been the bane of our political experience.”
Asoluka noted that followership in the country is not as it should be, because people are more accommodating of corruption among their kinsmen than they would outsiders, especially when it has to do with looting at the national level.
He said: “When a man is given an opportunity to serve, there are two sets of expectations. That expectation will have what we call spatial relationship. The closer you are to the person in question or the beneficiary of the state, the more permissive you tend to be of his conduct, so that if your brother becomes a minister, it is like, ‘this is our opportunity to eat from the national cake’. But if this same person is far removed from you, you raise the bar for him.”
Mr. Obi Achebe, who received the award on behalf of the late Achebe, said, over the years, Achebe stood for the values for which he was honoured and that what is most fortunate is that he lives on in the pages of his books.
Source: Ikechukwu Onyewuchi | ngrguardiannews
- Nigeria: Chinua Achebe’s Burial Service Takes Place Today. (glitzghana.com)
- Chinua Achebe: A Patroit And Contrarian (vanguardngr.com)
- Behind the Scenes of “Things Fall Apart”written by Chinua Achebe, Adapted for Stage and Directed by Kunle Animashaun (vrhcelebbuzz.wordpress.com)