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Celebrating late Elechi Amadi – by Okachikwu Dibia

Reason for celebrating Elechi Amadi was his immense efforts in intellectualization of Ikwerre. This was richly captured as fiction in many of his books

First of all let me thank the governor of Rivers State for declaring that the Rivers State government will bury the late Captain Elechi Amadi (rtd). 

He deserves it!

On the day of the burial, the Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality in Nigeria will surely celebrate our beloved and amiable Sir Elechi Amadi: a name known and memorized by every Ikwerre child.

The name, Elechi Amadi provokes heavy nationalism in us such that we become proud of been Ikwerre. 

That is one of the significant achievements of our elder, uncle, father and brother, late Capt. Elechi Amadi. 

This pride enables us to meet, interact and speak in the midst of other ethnic groups in Nigeria. 

In Rivers State and indeed Niger Delta where Ikwerre is located, it is a name equivalent to those of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Claude Ake, Obi Wali, the Clarks, Isaac Adaka Boro, Dappa Briye, and Francis Ella. 

Beyond, his name rings good silent bell when you mention Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi etc. 

All these are men who stood to represent and project their people in the literary and socio-political consciousness of their environment and even beyond.

I vividly remember my former managing director at Compumetrics Solutions Ltd. told me she read and studied The Concubine in her class as an undergraduate in a UK university. 

This is awesome, uplifting and gratifying in Nigeria where ethnic minorities are seen as people who must be suppressed to extinction. 

Elechi Amadi will forever remain sacred in the heart of the Ikwerre people.

Another reason for celebrating Elechi Amadi was his immense efforts in the intellectualization of Ikwerre. This was richly captured as fiction in many of his numerous books. 

He dwelt to explain Ikwerre in social themes like marriage and extra-marital affairs, divinity, wrestling (which he called the chief sport in Ikwerre), libation, slavery, farming, community organization, naming, proverbs etc. 

As a renowned writer whose ideas and concepts were rooted in Ikwerre cosmology and found in many of his books of immeasurable values, he remains the father of the intellectualization of the Ikwerre people of Nigeria. 

Ikwerre people are not in a hurry to forget that following him in the early 1970s were “Ikwerre Nbom” and “Otnutnu nonu Ikwerre” books which we briefly studied in Ikwerre in the early 1970s also had a lot of impact on our people just like Elechi Amadi’s books.

In about 1993, Sir Elechi was a member of the Ogbakor Ikwerre Research Committee. 

This was a very powerful committee that produced the most authoritative book on Ikwerre: “Studies in Ikwerre History and Culture” volumes 1 and 2 in 1993 and 2005 respectively. 

Ogbakor Ikwerre is the global assembly of the Ikwerre people to discuss and deal with issues concerning Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality. 

He later became the President of Ogbakor Ikwerre in 2002.

There is hardly any modern writer on Ikwerre that did not receive input and/or commendation from Elechi Amadi. 

I received both on my book titled “The Challenge of Ikwerre Development in Nigeria (2011)”. 

It was the same for Eke and Chuku in “Onomastics (2003)” and Tasie, Alex (2008) in “Ikwerreland: History, Culture and People”. 

I cannot forget his on-the-spot-approval for the formation of Ikwerre Writers Association (IWA) in 2013 when I called him and inquired whether it would be okay to form such a body to encourage an organized effort at writing down the lives and affairs of Ikwerre in books and other forms for purpose of providing researched information on Ikwerre’s yesterday, today and tomorrow. 

I cannot forget in one of my interviews with him in 2014, I asked him whether religion is still relevant to humanity given all the atrocities committed by man under the umbrella of religion. His response was: “Very well. It provides stability for the human being”. Instantly I considered his response as too simple given the voluminous things people have written and spoken about religion.  In fact I could not understand the meaning of his answer because I was expecting him to tell me that it is for the salvation of humanity and probably expatiate. But later, seeing critically through the answer, I discovered that those concepts used in the Bible to guide human relationships with God and man, were meant really to ensure the stability of man in such relationships and assist in the longevity of man. 

Those words include : patience, love, humbleness, longsuffering, meek, forgiveness, carefulness, faith, mercy, sympathy etc. 

Can man be stable psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and physically if he ignores these virtues of good human relations?  No!

Another reason we must celebrate Elechi Amadi was the fact that he stood to define and defend the existence of Ikwerre as Ikwerre during the late Justice C. Oputa panel’s investigations on human rights violation in Nigeria between 1999 and 2002. 

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