Late Prof. Chinua Achebe
Charles Onyekamuo in Onitsha
The final burial of Prof. Chinua Achebe, who died on April 23 in the United States of America (USA) where he lived and worked, begins sunday. The remains of the late literary icon is expected to arrive Abuja today amidst other activities en route his Ikenga Ogidi country home in Anambra state, where he would be laid to rest on Thursday, May 23.
Coming exactly one month after his death, the Ogidi Town Union (OTU) Burial and Publicity Sub-committee chairman and a member of the State Burial Committee, Emmanuel Udokwu, who briefed the media in Awka yesterday, said Achebe’s body is expected to arrive the Ecumenical Christian Centre in Abuja today where prayers would be held for the repose of his soul.
Thereafter, the Association of Nigeria Authors (ANA) would at the same venue tomorrow appreciate Achebe’s life and times in a special session.
The Senate had in a plenary penultimate week devoted the session to honouring Achebe with members eulogising him in glowing tributes as a patriotic and selfless citizen who carved a niche for himself in the conscience of the nation while acknowledging his contributions to national development and the growth of Africa literature. It also urged the Federal Government to accord him a befitting national burial.
But yesterday, Udokwu said the body of the late literary giant would depart Abuja through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport for Enugu airport with the representatives of OTU where it would be received mid day by the five South-east governors led by Anambra State governor, Peter Obi with a brief ceremony.
A reception will be held in his honour, though without the presence of his physical body, at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN). It would be recalled this was where he taught for many years before his sojourn to the USA following a car crash.
On Wednesday, May 22, the body, he said will arrive Awka and will lie-in-state at the Ekwueme Park in the Anambra State capital to enable the state governor, Obi, government functionaries. Citizens of Anambra State and world leaders pay their last respects after a brief church service to be conducted by the Anglican Bishop of Awka diocese, Dr. Alex Ibezim amidst cultural displays to celebrate what he stood for. He described the Awka event as an admixture of mourning and celebration.
The next day, however, the body would arrive Achebe’s home town, Ogidi in Idemili North Council Area of Anambra State, some 10 kilometres East of the commercial city of Onitsha. At Ogidi, a church service would be held in his honour at St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Akpakaogwe, Nkwelle Ogidi where Achebe incidentally began his primary education in the mid ‘30s.