22nd May, 2013
Markets in Ogidi, Anambra State, southeast Nigeria, the hometown of the late literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe, are to be shut tomorrow to enable indigenes and residents of the area pay their last respects to the author of Things Fall Apart.
One of such markets is the popular Building Materials Market, Ogidi, located along the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway.
According to the market leaders, the agreement to close down the market was reached between them and the Idemili North Local Government Area of the state, adding that it would also help ease traffic during the burial ceremony.
The remains of Achebe arrived Nigeria yesterday and was received by Senator Pius Anyim Pius, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State and several other dignitaries comprising government officials, writers, cultural organisations and other associates of the late author.
The body of the late Achebe arrived on board British Airways at Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport around 5 a.m. Tuesday and was accompanied by Christie, his wife and other close family members from the United States to Nigeria.
The body, which was in a casket draped in national colours of green and white, was later brought into the local wing of the airport by pall bearers dressed in full Igbo attire.
The entrance of the casket into the hall was heralded by blaring trumpets, songs and dancing.
Also present at the airport were Chief Ogbonaya Onu, Ike Achebe first son of the deceased and some female ministers.
A brief service presided over by Right Reverend Nwokolo was conducted during the very brief reception at the airport after which the casket was again taken into a plane for another reception coming up later Tuesday in Enugu.
Chrstie, the late author’s wife, Governor Obi and other members of the family were in the flight to Enugu.
Achebe, 82, died on 21 March, 2013 in America.
Meanwhile, the University of Nigeria, Nsuka, UNN, southeast Nigeria, yesterday honoured the late literary icon as it held a Special Senate session and academic procession.
Three times the Registrar called, but grave silence followed the mention of the name of Emeritus Prof Achebe on the roll of members during the Special Senate Session and Academic Procession.
The solemn event took place in the main hall of the university’s Enugu campus.
Vice Chancellor Prof Bartho Okolo observed after Registrar Chief Anthony Okonta had called up the roll, “Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, it is quite unlike Emeritus Professor Chinua Achebe, our revered man of letters, the literary giant, the Eagle on Iroko, to stay silent at the mention of his name.”
Okolo continued: “For the avoidance of doubt, may I call his name just one more time: Emeritus Professor Chinua Achebe!” There was no response as the hall fell deeply silent at the further calling of Achebe’s name.
“Truly, this is a solemn confirmation that the earthly sojourn of our revered colleague, Emeritus Professor Chinualumogu Albert Achebe, our compatriot who rose to become a citizen of the world has come to an end. It is therefore with profound grief and regret that I preside over this special Senate in his honour,” the Vice Chancellor added.
Prof Christie Achebe, the late author’s widow, his son Dr. Chidi Achebe and other members of the family sat in the front row facing the high table and the casket at the solemn event.
At the other end of the high table annexed to the table for the university administration sat Prof T. Uzodinma Nwala, Achebe’s erstwhile colleague at UNN and member of the Organising Committee for the funeral as well as Prof Oye Ibidapo-Obe, vice chancellor of the Federal University, Ndifu Alike, Ebonyi State.
Academics from neighbouring higher institutions also featured at the event. The Special UNN Senate Session and academic procession was one in a series of programmes for the funeral obsequies for the late author of Things Fall Apart.
Members of university administration, faculty, staff and students of the university where Achebe taught for six years and lent his name to its lustre attended the event.
He will be buried at Ogidi, his birthplace in Anambra state, on Thursday.