…As literary icon is laid to rest
From Chris anucha, Henry Akubuiro, Port Harcourt
The remains of literary icon, Captain Elechi Amaechi (retd) who died on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, were yesterday, interred in his compound in Aluu community, in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, with the state Governor, Chief Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, describing him as a great, selfless man, someone who de-emphaised materialism and contributed to human development.
The burial ceremony attracted people from all walks of life, both within and outside the country. They included government officials, lovers of arts, traditionalists, traditional rulers, politicians, members of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), who came to pay their last respect to one of the founding fathers of the association. The casket, which was covered with the Nigerian flag, and bearing the body of the prolific author was brought to the decorated platform by soldiers at 11:19 am, thereby setting the stage for a funeral service by the Anglican Communion, Diocese of Ikwerre about 11:20 am. In his speech, Governor Wike said the late Elechi Amadi was not only an Ikwerre or Rivers man, but a national figure whose contributions to the society was acknowledged in the country and beyond. “We, from Ikwerre should be proud to have a son that Nigerians can talk about,” he said. He charged his family to live in peace because of the personality of Elechi Amadi, adding that doing otherwise would make the deceased unhappy in the great beyond.
As part of the efforts to immortalise the literary giant, the governor promised that the Rivers State Government would complete the Faculty of Humanities building at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), established in his name but yet to be completed seven years after. He also renamed the Port Harcourt Polytechnic after him.
He said: “He is everything, and he can be honoured with anything, I wanted to name Ignatius Ajuru University of Education after him. But if I do that, some people would begin to see it as politics. But from today, the Port Harcourt Polytechnic has been named after him.
“Please, I am calling on the family to unite as one. Captain Elechi Amadi was a man we respect so much, he made a good name and anywhere that name is mentioned, people will respect it. That is why I’m calling on the family to preserve his good name.”
Earlier in his homily, Rev.Blessing Enyindah, Bishop of Ikwerre Dioceses, Anglican communion, extolled the virtues of the late literary icon and used the occasion to dispel the widely held opinion that the late author was not a Christian. Quoting Elechi Amadi’s book, “Sunset in Biafra”, the bishop said he (Elechi Amadi) played organ in the church.
He explained that the occasion was not to mourn, but to celebrate the life the late writer lived.
He described him as a great Ikwerre man, who was respected in Rivers, Nigeria and the world over. He revealed how the late icon contributed to the translation of the Holy Bible in Ikwerre language, as well as translating the Diocesan anthem in Ikwerre language.
The officiating minister, however, regretted that all the tributes in the social media and the late writer’s biography did not reflect his Christian life.
He further described Elechi Amadi as a man of humble disposition, good character and simple lifestyle, who shunned materialism.
According to him, the late Amadi was in government, but he never used such opportunity to enrich himself, adding that many people today, who have the same opportunity he had are exploiting the people and looting public funds.
He called on all present to be conscious of life after death, instead of chasing material things that would left behind to the mercy of the living, if the person dies.
Noble laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka in his tribute described the late Amadi, as a captive of conscience, human solidarity and justice. He said he cherished the intimate moments he spent in the home of the deceased, after he was rescued from the kidnappers in 2009. Captain Amadi was born in 1934; he died on Wednesday 29th of June 2016 at the age of 82.