Renowned Author Chinua Achebe Finally Laid To Rest


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unhealthy geneva;”>tadalafil sans-serif;”>Dignitaries from across the world are gathering in Ogidi, in Nigeria’s Anambra state, to witness the interment of renowned author Chinua Achebe on Thursday.

Mr Achebe’s body arrived back in Nigeria on Wednesday from the US. The author died in Boston at the age of 82 following a brief illness.

Several of his relatives and officials were at Enugu airport in southern Nigeria as the coffin was lowered from the plane.

Mr Achebe is widely regarded as the founding father of African literature in English. His 1958 debut novel, Things Fall Apart, which dealt with the impact of colonialism in Africa, has sold more than 10 million copies.

The writer and academic went on to write more than 20 works – some fiercely critical of politicians and what he described as a failure of leadership in Nigeria.

He had been living in the US since 1990 after a car crash left him partially paralysed and in a wheelchair, returning to Nigeria infrequently.

The BBC’s Will Ross in Enugu says that although people are mourning, the life of the influential Nigerian writer is also being celebrated.

The burial ceremony is taking place near his family’s home in Ogidi, a small town in the hills of Anambra state.

Typically all immediate relatives of the deceased dress in the same outfit at an Igbo funeral. This can add to the cost as the garment may not be worn again. A church service is usually held prior to the burial.

Yet after they have paid their last respects, said their final farewells and departed, a vital aspect of Mr Achebe’s burial will still be pending.

According to Igbo tradition, death is not an end to life. It is simply a transition to a new world. And without the rites of passage performed during a ceremony called “ikwa ozu”, which means “celebrating the dead”, Mr Achebe will be forbidden from taking his rightful place among his ancestors.

No matter how accomplished he was in this life, the literary icon would not be accorded an iota of respect in the next world.

“Ikwa ozu” rites differ from community to community.

The one commonality is that they occur after the elderly deceased is buried. Mr Achebe’s “ikwa ozu” is scheduled for immediately following his interment, on 24 and 25 May.

Igbo funerals are typically lavish.

It is not uncommon to hear people express anxiety when a relative is ill: “God, please, don’t let my mother die. I can’t afford her burial right now.”

Vast amounts are expended on livestock and alcohol entitlements for the various age grades within the deceased’s community, for the entertainment of guests and, usually, for the long-distance transportation of the corpse.

The honourable final resting place for an Igbo man is his ancestral village; and for a woman, in her husband’s village.

In order to recuperate financially, many families tend to wait several months after the burial before embarking on the even more expensive “ikwa ozu”, a situation that has led to the ceremony being frequently referred to as the “second burial”.

Sometimes, families that can afford to organize the ceremony immediately also prefer to wait for months.

That way, they and their friends can reconvene for a second fanfare, and maybe combine the “ikwa ozu” with a grand memorial service.

Depending on what traditional titles the deceased held in his lifetime, the “ikwa ozu” can last anything from days to weeks.

As an “ogbuagu”, a “tiger killer”, my maternal grandfather’s second burial lasted seven days. The ceremony took place in Oguta in 1994, more than a year after his first burial.

From a mock trial to determine who – if anyone – had killed him, to the breaking of a paddle tied to a goat’s neck to signify the final severance of his ties with this world, each rite involved my grandfather’s age grade, his fellow title holders, or members of his family.

Being the first daughter, the “ada”, my mother was the significant participant in the “ino uno akwa” rite, when my grandfather’s favourite meals were prepared and set before her from dawn to dusk. By consuming the meals, in silence, she was believed to have been ensuring that her fa


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