In the last 50 years, Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike who is also the traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu in Anambra State has written his name in gold as a prolific writer and author. Thus, drums were rolled out in some universities in the country to celebrate him for his novels written in the last 50 years.
As the ivory towers were celebrating this literary icon, his state, Anambra joined in the fray. This was why recently the Dr. Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, came alive as the state government celebrated the 50 years of Prof Chukwuemeka Ike as an erudite novelist.
The event attracted eminent personalities from the state and beyond like Governor Willie Obiano who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke; former Governor Peter Obi who was represented by Prof Stella Okunna and the former Secretary-General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku who chaired the occasion.
The occasion also attracted traditional rulers across the state, including the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, and students of secondary schools in the state who participated in debate, talk-show or cultural display and the state cultural troupe that performed at the colorful event.
The governor also unveiled the jubilee book entitled: “Chukwuemeka Ike: 50 years as a trail blazing novelist,” thanking God for the life of Prof Ike who is also the traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu kingdom.
Obiano described Prof Ike as an ‘Iroko’ in the literary and creative writing world like Prof Achebe, saying that the state had produced great intellectuals who were recognized across the world due to their creative contributions.
He stated that Prof Ike was a role model to upcoming students in the state and urged them to read their books in order to attain the same height the literary legend had reached in life, calling on students to read not pass exams, but to read for knowledge.
In his speech, the Chairman on the occasion, Chief Anyoku said that creative writers like Prof Ike were celebrated all over the world but were hardly accorded the recognition and pride of place they deserved in Nigeria.
He noted that his first novel Toads for Supper (1965), The Naked Gods (1970), the Potter’s, Wheel (1973), Sunset at Dawn (1976), Expo ‘77 (1980), The Chicken Chasers (1980), The Bottled Leopard (1985), and Our Children are Coming (1990) had made him to enter into the Africa pantheon of literary fame.
According to him, “the efforts of literary giants like Ike in the recreation of African society and history cannot be over-stated. Prof Ike’s life has been much more than writing. He is a long standing university professor and administrator, and has also served as the registrar of the West African Examination Counicl (WAEC). Today, Prof Ike is a distinguished traditional ruler Eze Ikelionwu XI of Ndikelionwu.
“Unfortunately, the efforts of our heroes like Chukwuemeka Ike appear now to be threatened by the growing deterioration in the standard of teaching and education in our primary and secondary schools; and even also in our tertiary institutions. I refer here, especially to the decline in the teaching of the English Language.
“The quality of education in our nation, I have continued to question the rationale that led to the stoppage of the teaching of history in a developing country like ours. I call for the full restoration of the teaching of history in all our secondary schools and colleges.
“However, the history that must be taught to our young people, and which should remain the subject of research by our scholars should be the history of our peoples and of Nigeria, as well as the history of Africa.
“Part of the explanation for this is, of course, that the fairly recent information technology has resulted in people, especially the young people, becoming more addicted to the use of computers. However, computers are still not widely available, especially in non-urban areas where the majority of our young people live and go to school.”
Also in her remarks, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof Kate Omenugha urged the students of the state to take Prof Ike as role model in order to become creative writers by studying very hard to achieve the goal.
Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Uju Nworgu, described the literary icon as a man of many parts whom after 50 years of creative writing had gone home to serve his people as the traditional ruler.
She urged parents to inculcate in their children reading culture than to allow them engage in watching of home movies which may lead them into violent or immoral acts, stressing that the students of today should emulate the virtues of Prof Ike.
The chief celebrant, Prof Ike stated that his first 50 years celebration as a novelist started at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in May, disclosing that he wrote his first and second novels while he served as the Registrar of UNN, adding that his UNN years watered the grounds for his scholarly books.