Celebrating Akachi, mother of books
By Uzo Maxim Uzoatu
QUIETUDE sits well with Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, and calmness is the word for her, but the music was so compelling that she had to stand up and dance.
The mellifluous music issuing forth from Gerald Eze and his Ichoku Ensemble put a smooth smile on the face of Prof Akachi and soft dexterity to her dancing steps.
Prof Akachi-Ezeigbo’s sister, Prof Chinyere Stella Okunna, who had been sitting beside the celebrant was held in rapt awe by the phenomenon.
The date, Saturday, February 11, 2023, stays unforgettable because of the birthday party observed for prolific award-winning author, Prof AkachiAdimora-Ezeigbo, at a comfy venue called Awka Window on America at NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.
The personable vice-chancellor of the university, Prof Charles OkechukwuEsimone, was on hand to conduct the rousing opening ceremony to the event sponsored by Abibiman Publishing UK, James Currey Society and intervolving the creative literary giants of NnamdiAzikiwe University.
Prof Onyeka Nwelue, the inimitable facilitator and publisher of Abibiman Publishing UK and Director of James Currey Society, Oxford, somehow had his presence felt, even as he was faraway in England.
Dr Ifeoma Odinye, Director of the OnyekaNwelue-instituted AkachiAzeigbo Prize for Literature, supervised the inaugural awards to the winners: UcheNnyagu – At the Centre of No-Man’s Land (Prose); IkechukwuAsika – Pain in the Bone (Drama); Oloyede Michael – Lagos is Killing Me (Poetry); Onyebuchi Ile – The Text, The Critic and Conflict Resolution in Nigeria (Non-Fiction); Onyinye Constance Amamgbo – The Old Man and the Donkey (Children’s Literature).
The AkachiEzeigbo Literary Day bore witness to distinguished scholars discussing under the encompassing theme: “What Do We Do With A Woman Like AkachiEzeigbo.”
There were engaging topics such as “Reading Culture Versus Excessive Materialism: Implications for Global Concern” that engaged the fine minds of Profs Harris Odumegwu, Greg Obiamalu, NgoziChuma-Udeh, NgoziEzenwa-Ohaeto, Ephraim Chukwu, and Mbanefo Ogene,
The celebrant, Prof Akachi-Ezeigbo was engaged in an animated discussion with Dr IfeomaOdinye on the topic, ‘My Life as a Reader.’
Prof Ezeigbo revealed how as a youngster, she was so engrossed in reading a book that she didn’t know when a machete-wielding madman entered the compound and nearly killed her!
As a student at Elelenwa Girls, she was an avid reader and was entrusted with the library where she almost read all the books.
The young Akachi had the benefit of an enlightened DO father who encouraged her reading and she is now paying the man back by having his name, Adimora, attached to her creative works.
She got married while in the university to a supporting husband who helped with the care of the children while she took her PhD at University of Ibadan, and did research in the UK, before the couple joined up to teach in the University of Lagos.
As an extension of the discourse, Prof Okunna and Prof Lilian Orogbu, who did more than 200 interviews throughout Nigeria, gave perspective to the topic, ‘When a Million Nigerians Vote,’ discussed by Dr Onyebuchi Ile, Ozioma Ajemba, Dr Ebel eOkpala, Dr Nkemakonam Aniukwu, Dr Emmanuel Ebekue, and moderated by Rev Sister Dr AdaomaIgwedibia.
The topic, ‘I Want to be a Writer: Different Perspectives and the Tangible Reality of Role Models’ was moderated by Dr Martha Egenti and discussed by Prof Alex Asigbo, Prof Tracie Utoh-Ezeajughi, Prof IfeyinwaOgbazi, Prof NkechinyereNwokoye, Dr AdaobiIhueze and Dr NgoziOzoh.
James Eze, the author of the award-winning poetry collection, ‘dispossessed’, rose up in celebration of the person and work of Prof Akachi-Ezeigbo, stressing that she should be celebrated nationally and internationally.
The pathfinding theatre icon of solo performance, Prof Greg Mbajiorgu, author and actor of the one-actor play, The Minister’s Son, said that Prof AkachiEzeigbo was her literary mother whom he always feels free to simply call Akachi. Mbajiorgu lamented that his Ihiala part of Anambra State was starved of writers as opposed to other sections of the state where one family, for instance, can produce Profs AkachiAdimora-Ezeigbo and Stella Okunna, the dynamic sisters who always gave back to their Uga community in Aguata LGA, by always leading other professors to organise extra-mural classes for young students.
The lionised poet and critic, Prof ChimalumNwankwo, aka Ndi-nmuo, livened up the gathering with his informed anecdotes, stressing that he was principally a poet.
The Managing Director/CEO/Editor-in-Chief of Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, publishers of National Light, Ka O Di Taa, and SportslightXTRA, Chuka Nnabuife said that he does not see Prof Akachi-Ezeigbo as a feminist but as a mother so detribalised that she used to be like a mother-of-all during the time he was working as a literary journalist of The Guardian newspaper in Lagos.
Prof AkachiAdimora-Ezigbo was full of thanks for all as she later said: “The celebration in Awka, at Unizik was excellent. I thank the organisers, represented by Dr.IfeomaOdinye, the Director of AkachiEzeigbo Prize for Literature, and everyone who was there or contributed to its success. In a special way, I thank the Unizik Vice-Chancellor, Prof Esimone, for his highly esteemed presence, together with the Pro-Chancellor & Chairman of Council and other distinguished members of Unizik Council, as well as renowned professors and gentlemen of the press, etc. I am totally humbled by the honour. I am emotionally overwhelmed by the goodwill showered on me through speeches, tributes and actions!”
A multiple award-winning mother of books, Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo reigns as the author of The Last of the Strong Ones, House of Symbols, Children of the Eagle, Trafficked, Heart Songs, A Million Bullets and a Rose etc.