Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Thousands of people, including renowned authors, thronged Mgbodo Village in Aluu Community, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State yesterday to pay their last respect as the remains of Literary Icon, Capt. Elechi Amadi (Rtd.), was laid to rest in his country home.
The leadership of the Association of Nigerian Authors was represented by its President, Denja Abdullahi, Former Presidents, Dr Wale Okediran and Odia Ofeimun, and also renowned Poet, John Pepper Clark also attended the burial.
The burial was a culmination of a week-long activities organised by the Rivers State to bid the late writer a state burial.
In his funeral oration, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, renamed the Port Harcourt Polytechnic after the late literary icon, noting that the institution would now be called Capt. Elechi Amadi Polytechnic.
The governor said it was necessary for the state to immortalise the Ikwerre son who had projected the Ikwerre nation and the state to international repute.
He noted that the Rivers State University of Science and Technology would have been named after the literary icon but was avoided because of politics of the state.
Wike urged the family members of the late Amadi, who is also a retired Military Captain to keep the legacies of their father, stressing that the principle of selflessness which their father preached should be held high.
Wike said, “Today we are not giving him an Aluu burial, Ikwerre burial because he is from the ethnic nationality, but a national burial because he is a Nigerian and his contributions to the nation, in the army and in the literary world are significant.”
“We are proud that we produced such an illustrious son that the nation and the world at large honour. We want the family to continue from where he stopped. Keep the good works of your father. It is unfortunate that people are not been remembered when they are alive but only when death comes. But it is good that we talk about people when they are alive so that they will know the fruits of their efforts.
“Seven years ago the Rivers State Government started building Faculty of Humanities in his name at the University of Port Harcourt. I have called the Dean of that faculty and we will finish it.
“We have decided to rename the Port Harcourt Polytechnic as Capt. Elechi Amadi Polytechnics. This is so that his name will not be forgotten. If not for the politics of our place we would have name the state university after him.
“Let us continue on those principles he believed on. He never wanted to enrich himself at the detriment of the people. I will do everything to assist the family. All of you should live in peace, so that anything we will do in the family we will not have crisis.”
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Ikwerre Diocese, Rt. Revd. Blessing Enyindah, charged leaders to emulate the late literary icon, adding that selfless service yields eternal life and glory.
Enyindah, while speaking on ‘What will it benefit a man to gain the whole World and lose his soul’, worried that the Christian life of the late icon was not mentioned.
Enyindah said, “I have listened to the mass media make commentaries about the person of Elechi Amadi but nothing about his Christian life has been mentioned. Even in the biography nothing about his Christian was mentioned.
“But I am happy that Amadi told us something about himself in his novel, Sun Set in Biafra where he disclosed that he was a keyboardist in the church and that makes him a good Christian.
“Our leaders are facing their selfish interest that is while the people are suffering. Anything they enter office they amass wealth for themselves.
“Leaders should display selflessness like the late Elechi Amadi. Today even pastors are competing with millionaires in buying houses and cars. Nigerian leaders only lead with selfish ambition against the dictates of the bible. Some of us acquire wealth without thinking of God sand where our souls will be.
“Amadi was an example of contentedness and humility. He has served the nation as a teacher and commissioner solder, chairman scholarship board, but he did not exhibit selfishness.
“He decided to live a simple life even when had the opportunity of enriching himself. In him we see a man with a humble disposition. He did not see his opportunity in public offices as a time to steal public fund. Let us eat and let other eats also. It is good to be wealth but not to the detriment of the people that you are leading.”
In his tribute, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka described Amadi as a captive of conscience, human solidarity and justice.
Soyinka said, “Adieu Elechi Amadi, soldier and poet, captive of conscience human solidarity and justice. Elechi Amadi is gone, but creativity remains as consolation honouring its faithful servitors and filling us with gratitude for their passage.”