Renowned Nigerian novelist and traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu, Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ike, is dead.
The literary icon died on Thursday at the Nnamdi Azikwe Teaching Hospital in Nnewi, Anambra State, at age 88 after a brief illness.
The late novelist’s health was believed to have started deteriorating ever since his only son’s death in 2016, according to some close family sources.
His son, Ositadinma Ike, had married a daughter of a Benin Chief, Osarunwense Eghosa, but the marriage hit rock bottom at the last days of Ositadinma.
Though blessed with a grandson named after the late novelist, Chukwuemeka Junior, family disagreements meant the Ike family no longer had access to Chukwuemeka Jnr. after their son’s death.
The event was said to have saddened the writer who longed to see his only grandchild and heir.
There was a public appeal made by Mr Ike’s close friends who worried over Mr Ike’s broken heart to find the whereabouts of Chukwuemeka Jnr. Until his death, the boy’s whereabouts remained unknown.
Prof. Ike is survived by his wife, Adebimpe Ike.
Born on April 23, 1931 in Ndikelionwu, Anambra State, Prof. Ike was part of the golden set of pioneer African writers and drew motivation from the late novelist, Chinua Achebe.
He began his writing journey from school days at Government College, Umuahia, where he wrote fearlessly in the school magazine, The Umuahian.
His first story ever written, ‘A Dreamland’ was published in The Umuahian and set his foot on the literary space.
He would later explore the space more when he entered the University College, Ibadan. Quickly noting his writing acumen, Achebe adopted him into the literary circle of the time that wrote about politics on campus and nationally. His literary output was well praised with profundity in mirroring African and Igbo cultures.
Such is seen in his authored works like Toads for Supper (1965), The Naked God’s (1970), The Potter’s Wheel (1973), Sunset and Dawn (1976), Expo ’77 (1980), The Bottled Leopard (1985), Our Children are coming (1990).
Aside from writing, he served as an academic in different roles such as a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, registrar at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and visiting professor at the University of Jos.
He was also a former registrar of the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC), the first Nigerian to hold the position.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with the government and people of Anambra State over the passing of Prof. Ike.
A statement from the Aso Rock Villa on Friday night said that: “The President condoles with family, friends and associates of the traditional ruler, whose loyalty to the nation will continue to resonate in the way he mobilised his community for civic duties, and sensitized youths on the value of good education.
“President Buhari believes that the administrator, cerebral scholar and prolific writer will always be remembered for his exceptional creativity in communicating wisdom in simple ways through books like ‘Toads for Supper,’ ‘The Potter’s Wheel,’ “Sunset at Dawn,’ The Bottled Leopard’ and other publications, which have been used by many institutions as teaching tools, within and outside the country.
“The President affirms that the late traditional ruler understood the depth and richness of African cultures and the power of the narratives, exploring every opportunity to showcase Nigeria, and Africa, to the world.
“President Buhari prays that the almighty God will grant the soul of the departed eternal rest, and comfort his family.”