ELECHI AMADI – WHEN GOD CAME
Chairman’s Opening Remarks at Book launch
If one interrogates pupils in a football field, student hostel, cinema house, at a concert or such other places, on if they know who Elechi Amadi is, many, I presume, would jump to reply in the affirmative. Those who do so would confirm that he is a well-known playwright not just in the Nigerian but also global literary firmament. And to justify their stance, some would mention the Concubine – that story of a beautiful Ihuoma, married to a sea-king who challenged other terrestrial intruders – call them suitors if you wish- even to the point of death, as an evergreen by him. Others may cite the Great Ponds as one of his books, amplifying the lessons they learnt from the disastrous conflict that ensued between two villages feuding over fishing rights in some ponds and the repercussion that this had on some innocent victims. Yet a number may recall that it was he who wrote the Slave -another great book set in African traditional life.
In mentioning these three books, the pupils would unwittingly have completed Elechi Amadi’s famed trilogy and positioned him, rightly, as one of the foremost proponents of African tradition steeped in the African culture of gods, myths and realities, with no apologies whatsoever.
Pressed further on what Elechi Amadi’s background would have been to have so duly equipped him for such creative writing in the liberal arts, replies such as Theatre, English, Literature and more, may be some innocent responses one may obtain. But alas, how incorrect would such answers have been. For Elechi Amadi’s true background is in the sciences – he is a graduate of Physics and Mathematics! And for the first time, When God Came, a Science Fiction, is bringing Elechi Amadi back to his academic ancestral roots.
An amalgam of two short fictions, physical science – the science of non-living matter, physics, chemistry, astrology, mathematics and much more, shone strongly through When God Came confirming the author’s source of breast milk. And as if to state the obvious, the Master of the Arts penned the Foreword himself giving it an imprimatur of exceptional quality.
But then what comment should one make on this ambidexterity, writing in the sciences, and the arts, with the same beautiful face as that of Ihuoma? Could all properly trained and informed minds apply themselves similarly? Or is it that there really are no boundaries between the arts and the sciences? All there are, are man-made compartments, mere histrionics? But whatever is the case, the cosmic universe and all that is in it remains one – created by a supremo, now and even by 9010 as was discovered on the Kilimanjaro peak by a team of Nigerian and Kenyan archaeologists as in When God Came. Purchase some copies; read one.
Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the day’s events.
Emeritus Professor, University of Port Harcourt.
24th. October, 2013