Thursday, 30 June 2016

I woke up to the very sad news of the passing of Captain Elechi Amadi, my favourite writer in the world. After the initial disbelief, I was numb with shock as I realised it was true. It's still a bit hard for me to gather my thoughts at the moment.

I had read Elechi Amadi's Concubine probably before I was 8 years old. I have always loved to read and got no greater joy than reading African literature. I remember my elder brother and his friends talking about the book, and trying to figure out who got the answers right in a test they had written. I laughed when I realised they'd all gotten the answer wrong when I told them the right answer - which I remember was Ahurole. I'll never forget the shocked expressions when they realised I was right and they were all wrong.

That book was so amazing and I don't know anyone who ever read it and didn't fall in love with it.

In 2006, I was surfing the web, trying to find out as much as I could about Elechi Amadi and I found his website. There was an email address listed on there, so I sent an email asking if I could speak with him. He graciously responded to my email and even included his phone number. I was overjoyed. I actually made my dad print out that email for me just because I wanted a hard copy of it. I called him and he was very nice. He told me that when ever I was in Port Harcourt, I should inform him and that's I had an invitation to come to his home at notice. I couldn't even believe it! This legendary writer had just given me an open invite to his home!

Captain Elechi Amadi


Took almost 2 years before I was able to take up that offer. I was in Port Harcourt, and I called him to ask if it was okay to pay him that visit. He said it was okay and he sent me directions to his home at Aluu. Of course, my mum was my designated driver so we set off on a Sunday. Took a bit to find it but he was still so patient on the phone, giving descriptions and finally we got there.

I was so nervous, like I was walking into the home of a legend. A man I had admired forever, whom my parents had admired, whom millions of people looked up to. And little me, was an invited guest to his personal home. He looked so tall, so brave but once I saw his kind smile, I knew I was going to be just fine.

He welcomed us in, offered us drinks ( I barely touched mine cos I was so engrossed with looking at him, listening to him, absorbing as much of his aura as I could) He was so lovely. It was so easy to speak with him. He answered all my questions, he gave me a lot of info. I told him I was a writer and was inspired by him. He gave me a lot of tips, ideas and encouragement. And then he gave me one of the best gifts I've ever received, He gave me a copy of his book "Sunset In Biafra". He autographed it personally and wrote a message "To Ngozi, who has made us really proud". When I saw what he had written, i got a bit teary. But I couldn't imagine what I had done to make him proud, but maybe he saw something I didn't see at the time.

His introduced us to his wife, Dr Piriye Amadi and we had a conversation about Fmr President Obasanjo's positive role in the civil war. After a while, it was time to leave. He said I was welcome to his home at any time, and told me about some writing classes he had held. I was so happy and I was basically floating on air. I told everyone about it, in fact I was floating through the skies with joy.

In 2014, I called him up again because I wanted to interview him. We spoke about it and because I got swamped with so many things, I never really had the chance to push for it and possibly get it done. I thought about paying him another visit last year, and again somehow I never got round to doing it. I feel terrible today because I procrastinated and lost a chance to speak with and meet this amazing man again.

Captain Elechi Amadi was a man who was known for his integrity, his honesty and dignity, all the years of service in the Rivers State government and in his community.

Captain Elechi Amadi - a teacher, a poet, a soldier, a father, a hero, a survivor, an inspiration - a legend.

Thank you for everything.

As we say in Ikwerre; "Lekwaru Anya".

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