Earlier this week the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, debated on the propriety of immortalizing the Literary icon, Chinua Achebe for his contribution to the positive projection of Africa through the eye of an African.
A novel and pioneer feat at a time when all that was known about Africa was as the ‘whiteman’ saw and deemed fit to proclaim.
This isn’t the first time such was debated by the House of Assembly and that got me thinking. Some of their proposals included naming streets, institutions and national monuments after him amongst others.
Inasmuch as these are lofty, the truth is that people are immortalized not on the basis of an attachment to physical structures but rather more in the hearts of people via immaterial structures especially when they’ve positively or even negatively impacted on the lives of those people.
There are many streets I pass by today and not know or even remember the association of the name (of the street) to the person for which it was so named.
The Greek philosophers of old we remember today, not because we’ve been to places that were named after them or been to the Louvre in Paris to see a bust made in their memory, but rather their timeless words and stories relating to them have lived over the ages in perpetual salutation to their being.
Structures can easily be destroyed in a whim of madness or even natural disasters, but those who live in our hearts remain ever immortalized.
So, just as an attempt is being made to immortalize Achebe, as have and will be made of so many other Nigerians not truly deserving of it, we the people know who the true heroes are, and it’s their praises that we will eternally sing, for though they might have been long gone they will live always in our thoughts!
Alfred Chinualimogu Achebe.