Between Arthur Eze and Chimamanda Adichie by Val. Obienyem
‘First and foremost, let me forward readers that views expressed here are entirely mine.
I read what our pen export and one of the best in the world, Chimamanda Adichie wrote about the land dispute between her town, Abba and Ukpo – both in Anambra State, Nigeria. It was the lamentation of a deeply-troubled soul over the impunity of men. Her timely piece is a necessary buffer against environing principalities eager to control or appropriate Abba.
Going by her stature and comfort zone, Chimamanda could have decided to remain aloof to the unjust plight of her people. But, with what she did, especially more from the urge to fight injustice than anything else, my respect for her has many times been magnified.
I have met Chimamanda severally and on each occasion was thrilled by her charming modesty and sense of propriety. Typical of her, she made her point clearly, and without denigrating anybody: Is justice up for sale to the highest bidder? Do we no longer have rule of law in this country? What are the actual duties of the Police — serving the nation or individuals? What wrong did she commit? All I saw was the disillusioned tenderness of a writer mourning the disorderin her country.
Chimamanda, like all reasonable persons, wondered what the end of wealth should be. Is wealth to be used to oppress the poor? Is it worth having when it is used to sow the seeds of discord that may sprout in a whirlwind too dangerous to tame? Is wealth for showmanship? Is wealth for “I makwa Onye m Bu?” (“Do You Really Know Who I Am?”).
From her piece, it was obvious she did her home-work and was availed of all the facts. At a stage in one’s life there are risks one would not venture into. For a person of her standing to go through books, talk to people and come up with the synthesis of views on the matter, one is convinced that she has done the right thing.
On the contrary, it was with great embarrassment and indeed, shame that I read the reactions of those that called themselves “Igbo Youths” to what Chimamanda wrote. I was even more upset that the reactions were brazenly published as advertisements in newspapers. Do they expect Chimamanda to condescend so low as to engage in “tru bum tru bum” with them? No way!
The so-called youths being used are ordinarily those that should be enjoying the calming hypnosis of a well-written piece — Chimamanda’s Lamentations and Other Works. Alas, there they were, abusing and pouring obloquies on her. To demonstrate the extent to which their faculties have been softened by contagious “iberiberism”, they said something about Chimamanda and marriage, when she is happily married and has also given birth; and that unlike their Croesus, she has not offered scholarship to anybody as if one of the characteristics of scholarship is to pronounce it from the roof-tops. In any case, it is good to offer scholarship to young persons to enable them read the works of masters like Chimamanda.
From their sponsored reactions of the so-called “Igbo Youths”, one could visualize a group of jobless men whose sense of propriety has been ruined by habituation to hand-outs from Croesus’ tribe. Clearly, the practice of exchanging people’s conscience with money has not ceased as those so-called youths have proved.
Besides scholarship and related matters, I was completely taken aback by the further attempt to compare Chimamanda with Prince Arthur Eze in all ramifications. How does oneexplain this? If both persons’ fames should be placed on a scale, it will amount to placing a twig against a tree trunk.
Of course, Arthur Eze is ostentatiously generous; a billionaire, and everything other thing those so-called “Igbo Youths” said that he is. However, I believe he is also a bad influence to the youth. While he is busy passing-on hand-outs to people, how many has he offered employment? Away with wealth without roots: it does nobody any good and will only end up, as it has done, mushing-up the brains of those youths with an idealization that life is about money.
The foregoing reminds one of what such persons have turned our society into. Today, title-taking, granting of honours and awards have been bastardized. Among many cultures today, they have been reduced to commodities for sale to the highest bidders. Look around you and all you see is “Ukwachinaka”;“Onwa” ‘This’, “Onwa ‘That’; “Kpakpando” ‘This’, “Kpakpando” ‘That’; “Akuirighiri” ‘This & That’. Other tribes have their own variants. These titles, like the “Onuku” in the masquerade genre, as masterfully interpreted by Dr. Okey Ikechukwu, actually represent degeneration as “Ijeles” are in short supply. Most often this new crop of title holders are men without noble pedigree.
In the past, Igbos preferred a man without money; today they amazingly show preference for the money without the man. This ignoble passion mocks the wisdom in what obtained long in the history of man: many years before the birth of Christ, two suitors who wanted to marry the daughter of Peisistratus were presented to him to choose his preference; he said he would choose the “the man without money”, rather than “money without the man”. Today, many people will choose one “Akuirighiri “ and “Ukwachinaka” because of the lures of some wads of money.
Chimamanda may not have the billions as she is not among the “Akuirighiri”; but at her stage it should not even be her preoccupation. What interests me most about her is that while she is paid millions for each public speech, she has resolved to speak free of any charge when it concerns our people.
In terms of fame, who hears about Croesus today even when names of those that contributed to the world of letters are on everybody’s lips?
If Croesus is still deluded on the extent and influence of his wealth, let one of his close aides whisper to him that it is for him to reverence Chimamada and pay homage to her.
Chimamanda has spoken at Yale, Harvard and other high-profile places. She has continued to be sought-after by who-is-who in the world. I recently saw her picture with the Obamas. I am sure our own Dangote who is more urbane will give Chimamada her due respect. It was really after she took the literary stage like a meteor that we started experiencing epidemic of people answering her name.
And do you know what? In her early forties, she has became what she is today – a man of the world. When she gets to their age, she would have became a central star among the stars of the world, beside whom other stars will loose their scintillating brilliance. At the time I am envisioning, she would have became a Noble Laureate in Literature.
There must be limit to madness in this clime!
Again, the views expressed here are entirely mine’.