By Ken Ike
Like many Nigerians, I was introduced to Chinua Achebe through his works; first Things Fall Apart, and later his many other books. I must have been about 10 years old, or so, when I read Things Fall Apart, and it opened in my soul a vista of creative possibilities. I knew, from then on, that I wanted to be a writer, a literary artiste, a poet, a journalist – call it what you may! I just wanted to live with words, form them to enchant, use them to uplift, study them to understand, bandy them to impress, eat them to be sated, drink them to quench thirst. That was the first impact and the continued impact of Achebe in my life. Even now, regular reading of Achebe’s books is a necessary fillip in my creative life.
I thought I had seen the zenith of the wordsmith with Things Fall Apart, but when I read Arrow of God, I was truly bowled over. I realised, deep in my young heart, that Achebe’s talent is not a fluke. This is a master of the written word, one whose development is not intellectually driven, but spiritually rooted.
Achebe is not just a masterful wordsmith, he is a real human being; one grounded in the ethos of being, yet deeply aware of the unlimited scope of possibilities for the human spirit.
Notice that I have not referred to Achebe in the past tense: he is NOT dead; stars do not die, they simply fade to glow in other firmaments.
• Ike, an Ashoka Fellow, is the Director, Lagos Operations, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria.