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Ekwensi’s last days, by widow

Posted by By PETRUS OBI, Enugu, SOLA BALOGUN and SEGUN AJAYI, Lagos on 2007/11/07 | Views: 839 |

Ekwensi’s last days, by widow


Widow of playwright and author, Cyprian Ekwensi, Chinwe, has described the death of her husband as a shock that she may have to live with the rest of her life.

• ANA to immortalize him

Widow of playwright and author, Cyprian Ekwensi, Chinwe, has described the death of her husband as a shock that she may have to live with the rest of her life.

Mrs. Ekwensi who, in the traditional Igbo manner, was narrating how her husband passed on, to well wishers who paid her condolence at No. 14 Hilview, Independence Layout, Enugu, disclosed that she had driven the husband to the Niger Foundation Hospital about a week ago when she was told that he had to be admitted.

She narrated how she returned from abroad about a month ago and persuaded him to relocate to Enugu from Lagos, and how she chartered a bus at the cost of N30, 000 to convey them to Enugu. She said they were on routine check up when doctors discovered that his health was deteriorating and asked him to remain for a while.

Mrs. Ekwensi, who complained of waist pain, as she narrated her story explained that the pain was as a result of nights she spent at the hospital while attending to her sick husband: "The hospital bench turned to my bed, the pain is much, you can see how I keep turning for a more comfortable sitting position."
Another member of the family, Engr. Nwankwo told Daily Sun that the late Cyprian Ekwensi was not seriously sick, "apart from the normal sickness associated with age. At 86 you should expect him to go for check up and it was during one of such visits to his doctor that they discovered that his health was not that okay, and requested that he be admitted for a while.

"I can tell you that he has not been sick. We were all together last Christmas, infact, I visited him in the village on the 26th of December and we even discussed issues pertaining to death, we didn’t know he was going to die; it is a big blow to the family and we shall miss him."

Engr. Nwankwo said he learnt of Ekwensi’s death on the same day he died, Sunday 4th November 2007, adding that "the family is not in a hurry to bury him.
"The family will come together and decide on when best to fix his burial, but for now nobody can say, and I am not the oldest in the family."

One of the early persons who came to commiserate with the Ekwensi family was the governor of old Anambra State, Chief C. C Onoh who was driven in a white Jeep to the Hilview residence of the late writer.
Commenting on the death, Onoh said it was another great loss to Igbo land. "It is a sad situation, so sad that we cannot even do anything about it. We just have to pray for his soul. I feel pain but what can we do?"

Cyprian Ekwensi who hailed from Nkwerre Izukalla in Oyi local government area of Anambra state is survived by a wife and nine children.
Meanwhile, the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) on Monday, pledged to immortalize the late novelist and elder statesman, in recognition of his pioneering role in the evolution and development of Nigerian literature.

Dr Wale Okediran, ANA president, told Daily Sun that a major structure in the proposed ANA village in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, would be named after Ekwensi.
In a moving tribute, Okediran said Ekwensi’s death, though at a ripe age of 86, marked the end of a tradition of story telling at its best. He noted that as a writer of popular fiction, Ekwensi was a natural story teller whose works were both accessible and entertaining.

Okediran, who recalled that a few years ago, a project was initiated by PEN to document the works of Nigeria’s literary icons, also promised that ANA would collaborate with PEN to make the works (including Ekwensi’s) available in CDs and get them aired on national TV stations.

Also reacting, Professor Olu Obafemi, renowned scholar, writer and immediate past president of ANA, described the late writer as key figure in the establishment of what is now known as Nigerian literature.
According to Obafemi, Ekwensi would forever be remembered as one of the oldest writers of the English expression who kept and gave national character to Nigerian literature.

His words: "Ekwensi’s death is a major deprivation to Nigerian literature. He was one of the major architects of modern Nigerian literature, who, as early as in the 1950s and 1960s, began to write about issues and events beyond his ethnic background. He was one of the proponents of popular fiction in Nigeria."

The deceased’s eldest son. George who flew in from the U.S. when he learnt about his father’s ailment last week, has begun consultations with relations and notable indigenes of Anambra State on burial plans.
Speaking with the Daily Sun on phone, from Nkwelle Ezunaka village, the novelist’s son, Ike, confirmed the family meeting, but noted that his father’s burial would not be determined by family members only, considering his outstanding contributions to national development.

It was learnt that Ekwensi was due for an award in Lagos, on November 16. He had left Lagos in good spirit a month ago with the hope of picking the award later. He never knew he would not make it, a relation, who preferred anonymity said at the Ekwensi’s home on 141, Ojuelegba Road, Lagos on Monday.

Born in Esioji Itite village, Nkwelle Ezunaka, in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, on September 26, 1921, Ekwensi was educated at Government School, Jos, Government College, Ibadan; Achimota College, Ghana and Higher College, Yaba, (now Yaba College of Technology), Lagos. He later attended the School of Forestry, Ibadan, Chelsea School of Pharmacy, University of London and an international writing programme in Iowa University, USA.

Reputed to be the doyen of Nigeria’s modern literature, Ekwensi began his writing career as pamphleteer and this perhaps, explains the nature of his novel. This tendency is well illustrated on his novel, People of The City (1954), in which he painted a vibrant portrait of life in a West African city. Two novellas for children followed, in 1960, namely: The Drummer Boy and the Passport of Mallam Ilia.
Ekwensi’s most widely read novels, Jagua Nana and Burning Grass, were published in 1961.

Between 1961 and 1966, the author published at least one major work every year. Popular among the works are Beautiful Feathers (1963), Iska (1966) and two collections of short stories, Rain maker and Other Stories (1965) and Loko Town (1966). His later work, Divided We Stand (1980), in which he lampooned the Nigerian civil war, is slated for discussion by experts in a conference on 40 years after the civil war.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.