Nigerian novelist’s passing grieved by writing community

For New Pittsburgh Courier

(—Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike, novelist extraordinaire, passed this month into eternity, writes Nigerian author Okey Ndibe.

Born April 28, 1931, he had a rich life as an academic, bureaucrat, father to an only son, Osita Ike (who preceded him in death), husband (to Adebimpe Olurinsola Ike, nee Abimbolu, who survives him), and traditional leader of his community, Ndikelionwu.

Chukwuemeka Ike was known for a mixture of lampoon, humor and satire. He owed a bit of his style to his Igbo cultural upbringing.

As an educator, Ike contributed to the intellectual and cultural development of Africa in important administrative positions at Nigerian universities and at UNESCO and as professor at the University of Jos. In 2008 he was awarded the Fonlon-Nichols Award at the African Literature Association meeting in Illinois, according to the African Book Collective.

His novels include “Toads for Supper” (1965), which is set in a university and deals with love and the inherent problems that married couples from different ethnic backgrounds encounter; “The Naked Gods” (1970), also set in a university, which highlights the corrupt practices in the appointment of a new vice-chancellor at Songhai University; and “Expo ‘77” (1980), in which secondary school students trying to gain admission to the university cheat in examinations.

More recently, “Our Children Are Coming” (1990) deals with the problem of youth unrest and student revolt in colleges and universities in Nigeria. “The Search” (1991) is the story of the feverish patriotism of a detribalized intellectual, Ola, and his search for Nigerian unity.

“Ike’s works, laced with humor, satire, parodies and engaging dialogue, are deep interrogations of life in post-independence Nigeria. In many ways, his fiction held up a mirror to society, reflecting both the desirable and the worst in us and leaving us with something to really ponder about,” writes author Sylva Nze Ifedigbo.

“He seemed passionate about changing society and used his fiction to consistently remind us of the increasing inadequacies of society which our fleeting sensibilities ignore as we carry on with the daily scramble for material accumulation.

“His death is a big loss to the community of writers, but his formidable body of work will keep him in the hearts and memory of readers everywhere for a long time.”

(Feature Photo: Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike)


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