Achebe; his Cultural, National Ideals

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Ezurike Ugochukwu

The biennial memorial lecture in honour of one of the world’s literary colossus, Late Professor Chinua Achebe was held recently at the Princess Alexandra Auditorium, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu State of Nigeria.

The biennial event organized by the Arts faculty of the University in memory of their legend, Professor Albert Chinualumogu Achebe. This year’s lecture is titled; “In the service of the arts; In the service of culture and Nation.”

In his welcome address, the vice chancellor of UNN, Professor Benjamin C. Ozumba, represented by the Deputy vice chancellor Administration, Professor Charles Igwe extoled the rare qualities of the literary icon Achebe; who in his inkling, lives on. He emphasised that the aim of the University is not solely on what he embodies to them as an institution, but his posture and strides to the entire black race and the world at large.

The Vice chancellor said this year’s lecture stands out inimitable going by the topic he said highlights the role of the Arts in sustenance of the cultures and values of peoples, and to maintain social ethics and engender a sense of direction.

Also in the same vain, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts (UNN), Professor Pat U. Okpoko, welcomed the guests and stated that the Faculty has always honoured Chinua Achebe; being an icon whose footprints on the faculty and on the global circle cannot be obliterated even in generations to come.

Okpoko, said the attempts to honour Achebe by the Department of Arts started far back 1990 before the icon’s demise in 2013, and stated that henceforth, the biennial lecture will be held as and when due.
The Dean said this year’s title; “In the service of Arts: In the service of Culture and Nation,” is being organized as a public lecture rather than as a conference, and enunciated that the academic aspect ‘Colloquium’ will be anchored by renowned literary giants, to be followed by Awards of Excellence to be bestowed on two great Nigerians.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, the distinguished Senator Chukwuka Utazi, said the topic aptly fall in line to those ideals Achebe embodied. Senator Utazi, who is the Senate committee chairman on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, underscored that the first book of Achebe, ‘Things fall Apart’ opened Africa to the rest of the world and painted a picture as well as a narrative to her way of life.

The keynote speaker at the event- Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra state extoled many inimitable virtues of Chinua Achebe. He recalled that when he assumed office in Anambra, education standard was at very low ebb. The state was 24th in the performance rung in the country then, a situation he brought to the first position.

The colloquium was presented by Professor J.O.J Nwachukwu-Agbada, with eminent discussants as, Associate professor Remy Oriaku, of University of Ibadan and Professor Lady Esther Ugwu, University of Benin. The Special Guest was a reputable jurist, Justice C. Chukwuma –Eneh.

Presentation of awards to two distinguished Nigerians which was anchored by the UNN Public Relations officer Chief Okwun and Dr. Ikenna Onwuegbuna, while the presentation was performed on behalf of the vice chancellor by Professor Charles Igwe. The award winners were, Chief Emmanuel Okonkwo (a.k.a. Bishop) OFR, of Ekulo Nigeria limited and Chief Ugochukwu Orji, CEO, Romex properties Nigeria Limited. They were being honoured with “Entrepreneurship/Corporate Governance award, and Entrepreneurship/Building Technology award, respectively in recognition for their pedigree and sterling qualities in these spheres.