The Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh has described the late literary giant, Professor Chinua Achebe as a remarkable gift of God who succeeded in spreading African Culture and literature to all parts of the world. He gave this description during the commendation service held in his honour by the Anglican Church at the National Christian Centre, Abuja.
Archbishop Okoh who likened Chinua Achebe’s feat to a story of what happened in John Chapter six, the handing over of five barley loaves of bread and two pieces of fish and the spectacular blessing of food that fed over 5000 men, adding that this happened because he carried everything to God. He said Chinua Achebe offered what he had to God and from God to the world. He said through the writing of the erudite scholar, the tradition of the people became known and the whole world was exposed to the conflict between the old and the new order.
He opined that in ‘Things fall apart’, the old order is seen struggling with the new order of Christianity thereby opening this society to the world through his book which serves as a mirror from which people look at their lives at the time Christianity came. The head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria said emphatically that it is not money that presented Professor Chinua Achebe to the world but a gift given to him by God to the extent that the world canonised him, and his books have been translated to many languages throughout the world.
He admonished all who were present at the Commendation Service to emulate the literary giant Chinua Achebe by using their God given gifts for the service of their country and humanity at large. Like Moses, he reminded that there is something in their hand that can be of tremendous assistance to the development of Nigeria. According to him, Chinua Achebe had intellect, he used it and God blessed his effort and today there is no part of the world that has not heard about him and all parts of the world are discussing the exit of the great writer.
He called on young people to take Professor Achebe as their role model because according to him, if Nigeria has such people there will be all round transformation and a moral revolution in the country because he said, Professor Chinua Achebe was a man of principle and disciplined behaviour. Archbishop Okoh said it is becoming increasingly difficult for young men to adopt people of impeccable character and ambition as models. He said many a people have derailed and are now struggling to bring back the country to the main highway of values, moral standard, sanity of principled people who can lead the Nigerian nation to prosperity and enduring values.
He called on the generality of the people that while they have the privilege of life they should use what they have for the benefit of their local, larger communities and use their money for the things of God.
The Commendation Service coincided with Pentecost Sunday when Christians celebrated the gift of the Holy Spirit which came from God the Father and the Son for the Church and the work of the ministry. He expatiated that there is no section of life that does not have the Spirit of God; whether in Science and technology, Medicine, Law, Education, Philosophy, Computer, Engineering, Theology and the Church including Literature.
He queried the way many of the people travel abroad for medical health adding his belief that there is no hospital that Nigeria cannot build, as a nation, individually or collectively as a group. He said young men and women will have opportunities for the fulfilment of their careers when medical infrastructures are provided in the country. He urged everybody to see themselves as God’s steward and treasurer who will surely give account because he said God has fixed a time for reckoning, to give account of the privileged position they were given adding that as the nation celebrates the wonderful Chinua Achebe who God gave as a wonderful gift, people should also make up their minds to do something to bring relief to the necessity of somebody around them by investing in the life of the people that will be pleasurable.
He wondered aloud that great men, even a world class professor can die; noting that people should prepare to meet their God by surrendering their lives to the owner, live accountably and responsibly on daily basis. Concluding, Archbishop Okoh quoted the book of Hebrews that man has no abiding city here but seeks the one above adding that the fact is that man must leave one day. Man does not continue here forever, he said.
By Ven. Foluso Taiwo