Nkwelle Ezunaka stands still as Cyprian Ekwensi goes home
Among the many dignitaries and associations that attended the funeral are the former Minister of Health, Chief Tim Menakaya; former governor of old Anambra State, Chief C. C. Onoh; ex-governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige; Association of Nigerian Authors, New Jersey chapter of the Anambra State Association of North America, and ASA-USA.
In her tribute, the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dame Virgy Etiaba, described the late writer as a world renowned novelist, who contributed in no small measure to exhibit the nation’s cultural heritage through his writings to the rest of the world.
His novels, she said, notably The Drummer Boy, Burning Grass, African Nights Entertainment, Rain Maker, among others, clearly marked him out as the doyen of Nigeria’s modern literature.
Also speaking, the Governor of Imo State, Sir Ikedi Ohakim, said that the late Chief Ekwensi, even though a pharmacist by training found fulfillment and monumental success in art-writing.
Governor Ohakim said: “This notwithstanding, he also served his fatherland in various capacities as a journalist, pharmacist, teacher and public relations consultant, rising to the position of a director of information in the Federal Ministry of Information. His contributions as a prolific writer which earned him fame and popularity across the world will remain a lasting memorial to his name.”
Those who had personal contact with the late icon could not but cherish his rare spontaneous and dramatic generosity. One of them, Gbenro Adegbola, managing director of Evans Brothers Nigeria (Publishers) Limited, says this much as he described the late Ekwensi as a man of famous sense of humour and quick wit.
Wole Olaoye, on his part, recounted his experience with the literary giant when both of them travelled to Germany as close associates, narrating how he thrilled the Germans with his bundle of wisdom, wit and artistry, an experience he said he would never forget. He also disclosed that he was with him a few days before he died.
For Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, the former governor of Abia State, Chief Ekwensi’s life was one of gigantic attainments, fulfilled dreams and altruistic service to humanity.
The ex-governor, himself a political icon, said: “Of note were his outstanding achievements in the literary world where he wrote his name into fame of prominence. I recall with nostalgia one of his best-selling works, The Drummer Boy, used with relish in almost all the secondary schools in Nigeria.”
Describing him as one of the greatest novelists in Nigeria and the world at large, the National Association of Veteran Journalists and Communicators in Enugu said though he is gone that his life was an odyssey, which remains as a guide to many, who need guidance.
From far away United States of America (USA), the Igbo under the auspices of ASA-USA called for the conferment of a posthumous award in literature on the late Ekwensi.
The president of the association in US, Prince Okey Onyiuke, made the call in Morris Plain, New Jersey during at the wake-keep organized in honour of late Ekwensi at Chiedu Ekwensi's residence.
Prince Onyiuke said this had become necessary in view of the fact that Ekwensi was a literary giant whose works had made an impact on the lives of Nigerians, Africans and the world at large irrespective of political, religious or cultural divide.
He promised that his association will not leave any stone unturned to honour any Igboman who touches the lives of others positively.
Onyiuke noted that the late Ekwensi did not only use his literary works to participate in the struggle for Nigerian independence, but also used them to unite the Igbo and Nigerians generally.