ndi a enweghi atu

just found out through loomnie that the famed Igbo historian, Professor Adiele Afigbo, died this morning. when one iroko tree falls, it is big news....but now it seems that of late several of our great ones are dying. just yesterday i twittered (yes, i twitter now) on how i had celestine ukwu on repeat and just this afternoon while driving, i cried as i listened to the old school highlife my dad and I used to dance to on saturday mornings. Egwu ndi a enweghi atu....works that can never be duplicated.....Achebe, Nwapa, Okigbo, Igwe, Egbuna, Isichei....were names that regularly graced our shelves. Most are aging and some are no more. I'd hate to get off tangent, but I sometimes wonder the kind of cultural legacy I will one day find myself passing down to my own children.***

Afigbo is a native of Okigwe, not too far away from my maternal home. He remains one of Igboland's most noted historians having authored several books on the history of southeastern Nigeria. His "Ropes of Sand," (a gift I received some years back from a good family friend), was probably my first formal introduction to Igbo history and origins. I remember only reading an excerpt of his other earlier work "The Warrant Chiefs: Indirect Rule in Southeastern Nigeria," during one of my many moments of procrastination. I have yet to read some of his later works, but hope to do so when chanced.

Professor Afigbo will be missed.

*** just to qualify this, i do believe that nigeria currently finds itself in somewhat of a cultural renaissance with some of the newer works that are coming out. i guess my comment here is more a reflection of wondering whether I, personally, would be able to share that culture with my children as effectively as my parents did. I look at my shelves and all i see are textbooks - "Bate's Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking" is not much of a literary legacy to pass down...sigh...


  1. KG said...:

    I honestly don't know how to express the solemnity of this. I can unequivocally tell you however that I've probably heard of this great man once or twice but I know nothing more. That in itself is a big shame considering that I spent more of my life in Nigeria than anywhere else.
    And that also brings me to the point you made about cultural legacies. Too many of our parents (at least mine) who raised us in Nigeria laser-focused on the child-rearing and completely neglected the cultural and historical aspects. Not that I blame them. They were probably not aware of its true value and ongoing legacy. But then interestingly, we'd now be accused of not knowing this or that about such and such. Hello!! Contradiction here??!!
    It's no wonder though that now we're seeing generations being clueless and spouting off nonsense with regards to Nigeria's history.
    A sorry state of affairs if you ask me.

  1. Omo Oba said...:

    Am I missing sth on ED pills here?
    Anyways, KG, you took words out of my mouth again. A while ago, in one of my classes, a teacher asked a fellow student to describe the Igbo kinship tree, and we kind of stumbled (spelling?) on what cousins, mommy's sister etc is called in ibgo- thankfully, the internet came to our rescue and we found an elaborate igbo kinship tree online. It was a little shameful that even though we claim to be non-native speakers of english, we are not fluent in our mother tongue. That got me thinking that even me that I claim to speak yoruba sef, I cannot honestly sit down and tell you what "anty" is in yoruba, it has been passed on to me as "anty" or even sister - what is sister in yoruba besides saying "sista mi" or "omo iya mi"(tsl: my blood)? To say, that a lot of our cultural values have been lost on our generation will be an understatement. It is very ironic that while most sensible parents in diaspora were trying to instill cultural values in their children, our parents living in Nigeria were making an effort to make sure our education was as westernized as possible. I still remember my father banning me from watching Nigerian movies as a child - but not without good reason too because movies like Nneka the wicked serpent and Agbara Nla scared the beedevil outta me(and reason y I have bcome such a die-hard fun of nollywood now)...but I feel as if so much of my yoruba now would be polished had I been exposed more to yoruba language. Also, to think I only saw the Eyo festival on Eko when my cousins from London came down to visit....and I know of many more of my friends who have never witnessed the festival. Like KG, our parents are not to be faulted here - they were only doing their best to give us what they did not have. But these are things I am hoping would not be repeat with my children.
    In any case, not to detract on Afigbo's death, may his soul rest in peace. Now, I am going to make an effort to look for his book, read it and keep his legacy alive in my children + in all honesty, I need some good cultural lesson about the history of Igbos.

    And KG! dont let me fight you o, what is that "thing" doing as your profile pic - you had better get the gunner in you alive, and stop professing love for a dead team.

  1. Anonymous said...:

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  1. KG said...:

    Omo Oba,
    You're not serious oh. Man Utd for life mehn. And they're so NOT dead. In case you hadn't noticed, we're set to win everything in sight just like last year. When I started supporting Man Utd, everyone and their uncle was supporting Arsenal and Man Utd had only started winning stuff. But to be fair, I've always admired the Arsenal team cos they play good football. I started to hate them less though when the Chelsea juggernaut was birthed.

    And regarding those Yoruba words...kai, I so know what you mean. I stopped speaking it in public longest time when my aunties would always tease me that my accent sounded weird. I don't think there are words for sister and brother though. It's just aburo (younger sibling) and egbon (older sibling) and then you add female or male to it.

    And yup you put that diaspora vs. westernization in Nig irony so eloquently.

    Haha! You watched Agbara Nla too? Those things were so scary and nasty. Besides, them being scary, most of them are plot-less and suffer from poor film making jare. I won't be caught dead watching those Nigerian films. Yeah, yeah I know you and Nneoma (and Obla yoo) are huge fans so I'm treading on dangerous ground but whatever. I just can't watch them.

    p.s. You should do comment moderation too on your blog like Nneoma has done so knuckleheads stop posting sh*t and unproductive nonsense.

  1. J.T's Tale said...:

    He was and will remain great.