1 July 2016
When we lose our loved ones, we are comforted with the thought that they will live forever in us.
In our memories lie past experiences through which we can recollect the life they lived and how it impacted us and thereby even though they are gone can remember them and feel happy because we know they are never really far from us – so long we still remember them in our hearts.
The same goes for writers; when they die, they are never really far from us. We see them in the works of literature they leave behind.
We read their stories and are pulled into their imagination. Though for a brief moment, they are alive and kicking and inspiring us regardless of how long ago they’ve been gone.
The Late Elechi Amadi for the past five decades shared his thoughts, ideas, imaginations and inspirations with us through his works.
His first novel, “The Concubine” formed part of the upbringing of most from the pre-millennial generation. His other works inspired, enlightened, and educated as all good works of art should.
Elechi Amadi served his country as a member of the Armed Forces, rising to the rank of Captain before taking up political positions and appointments.
Through all this progress, he never forgot or abandoned his service to the gods of literature and art as he constantly fed the muses and chose to use his gifts to inspire.
While over a dozen of his works are widely known and critically acclaimed, one of his most recent books – the last one he left for us in a much similar fashion as the late Chinua Achebe did before his death – is perhaps a valedictory message from the late writer to the world.
Two things makes special late Elechi Amadi’s final work of literature:
1: It is a piece of science fiction, a genre Amadi had never delved into in all his decades of writing.
2: The book which is divided into two parts had the first part written decades ago but was never published. It was like he was waiting for the perfect time to grace the world with his last gift of art.
The book is titled, “When God Came”, and it is no doubt a welcome addition to the limited collection of Science Fiction novels by Nigerian authors.
In his foreword, Elechi Amadi says: “Science Fiction (SF) is a literary genre usually based on imaginary scientific and technological advances or imaginary and severe changes in the human condition and environment. Since the Second World War popular themes have included the possible consequences of a runaway technology fueled by unbridled greed and megalomania; interplanetary travels and warfare often involving nightmarish extraterrestrial creatures wielding doomsday weapons; and threats to the continued existence of the human race posed by apocalyptic events on earth, within the solar system or our galaxy, the Milky Way.
What is the Science Fiction scene in Nigeria like? I have not read any modern SF written by a Nigerian or indeed any African author. I suspect that if modern SF exists in Nigeria it is certainly very scarce. The reasons are not far to seek. Firstly, Nigeria is not science-oriented. This means that readers who can enjoy Science Fiction in Nigeria are few; but worse, Science Fiction writers will be even fewer or non-existent.
Secondly, the reading culture itself is yet to be developed. Apart from students and those in academia very few people read fiction and poetry for pleasure, this has an effect on drama which is fiction on stage. Jobless drama graduates, who make brave efforts to stage plays for the public lament poor attendance.
Science Fiction has the potential to galvanise the populaces into taking more interest in science and scientific concepts. But first the government must put education back to the top rung of the ladder of development. The havoc done to education by successive administrations has to be mitigated urgently.
The two stories in this slim volume are my initial humble contributions to SF in Nigeria. ‘Song of the Vanquished’ shows concern for man’s abuse of planet earth. It was written many years ago when there was no talk of ecological damage and climate change.
When God Came takes a look at that dramatic moment which most scientists, especially astronomers, look forward to – the first encounter with extraterrestrial beings encounter with extra-terrestrial creature”
Captain Elechi Amadi died on Wednesday the 29th of June 2016 at the age of 82, but we know his legacy will live on for decades and centuries to come.
His writing and books will inspire, and his life even after death will continue to change those who read his works, because those works of literature will always live on no matter how long he will have been gone.
Author: Aderonke Adeleke
Writer. Music lover. Movie junkie. Social Media Enthusiast. Aspiring dancer. Aspiring photographer. Social Introvert.