When a man has made his name, he needs no titles!
I have been wrapped in thought on Achebe’s burial proceedings. Nigeria is a comical composition in the Comity of Nations – I recall that Achebe wrote his most celebrated literary piece, “Things Fall Apart” at the age of 27.
He did not write it from Harvard or MIT, he wrote it at the Premier University College, Ibadan. Achebe’s classical work depicts his genius and the manner of knowledge transfer obtainable then. May I ask, what has happened to our educational system since then?
How many of our youths today can pen down such piece? Achebe and his contemporaries were not compelled to write TOEFL and other meaningless English exams when they left abroad for further studies like we are being asked to do today. Why? Achebe’s mastery of our pre-colonial and colonial history as exemplified in his work, speaks volume of how they studied with hindsight in apprehension for the future. A thing completely dead with the Age of Facebook.
They ranked with the mates anywhere in the world. Most of them studied with scholarships. The nation invested heavily in education and produced the likes of Ralph Opara, Muyiwa Awe, Soyinka, etc. And the nation reaped bountifully from their mental wizardry.
What went wrong? Despite Achebe’s feat in the world of literature and African mythology, he died abroad! Kai! Aru! A titled man! Achebe is like Okonkwo, the character he created in “Things Fall Apart”, who having lost in the battle against colonialism committed suicide rather succumb to humiliation.
In that same manner, Achebe, having lost in his passion for the preservation of Igbo cultural heritage, advancing his course to change his fatherland by writing the “Trouble with Nigeria”; the almighty Arusi Ogidi eloped to the white man’s land, bowing to Western superiority, a defeat he conceited to without choice. If reincarnation is within the whims of our human conjectures, Achebe wouldn’t wish to meet Nigeria the way he left it!
Since this democratic Janja weed arrived here by a stroke of chance in 1999, I have yet to see or hear that a senator or politician built a research centre, a serene academic reservoir, a resource centre, an inquiry zone, a library, a challenging abode for prying and restless minds for future innovations… It is all about hotels, relaxation centers, and funny enough, churches. These sterile institutions are designed to divert our peoples’ attention from reality. The youth crowd in these vain halls to dance, ‘All my ladies… or Everytin na double, double, as the case may be.
Investment in research and education kept Europe ahead of other nations. The cheap minds that dot our national polity will always have filled day because they have destroyed the very breeding ground where sound minds are supposed to be raised. Emeka Anyaoku, Barth Nnaji, Gabriel Oyibo, Emeagwali, and Achebe who is being interred at this moment are products that any nation should proclaim.
However, the irony of the Nigerian State is that it cheaper to rabble rouse the youths and stockpile funds for awful games, to raise a man in the class of intellectual zone with the aforementioned names is project of millions.
As Achebe is being celebrated today, his spirit yearns for that system where education and research will be enthroned above religion, excellence venerated above subservience, intelligence ensconced above gossip; diligence promoted above folly; it is only in establishing such a system that Nigeria will truly be great!
Okoro Benedict Chinedum wrote from Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria
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