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Chinua Achebe’s Okonkwo and Ikemefuna death: the lessons Akpabio refused to learn



By Douglas Akpan Ette

One of the most poignant and morally revolting acts in Chinua Achebe’s classic “Things fall Apart” is captured in the sad and emotionally wrenching death of Ikemefuna.

Ikemefuna was treated as a member of the family, a beloved son to the central character in the book-Okonkwo.

If anyone would have expected tor resist or challenge anyone who may have remotely planned any harm to Ikemefuna, it was expected to be Okonkwo. No one would have imagined that Okonkwo would sit in the council of those who would condemn Ikemefuna to death, or participate in the execution of the hapless young man.

But certain impulses (positive or negative) that dictate the human condition or his or her capacity to do evil however galling or morally revolting such may be was in full display. Okonkwo’s sad and reprehensible participation in the murder of Ikemefuna contributed to his downfall and eventual suicide.

When Okonkwo was warned not to have a hand in the death of Ikemefuna with such emotionally wrenching appeal that the boy (Ikemefuna) calls him his father, therefore, he should have no hands in his death, he refused to heed those eternally deep words of advice. In the end, Okonkwo was destroyed, deserted, abandoned and alone, depressed and in his solitary world, committed suicide and ended his otherwise heroic life in the hall of infamy. Sad!
If we are to relate what has happened to Senator Akpabio visa-vis his relationship with Governor Udom Emmanuel, we can see the same similarities.

Governor Udom Emmanuel, in spite of the fact that he is the duly elected Governor of Akwa Ibom State with overwhelming Executive powers, showed extreme deference to his predecessor, Senator Godswill Akpabio. He would call him “my Mentor and Boss”.

Anyone who would directly or indirectly disparage Senator Akpabio or describe him in unflattering manner was sure to draw the ire of the Governor.

Governor Udom Emmanuel treated his predecessor with kindness, respect and deference; he showed him deep -seated gratitude.

But like Okonkwo did to Ikemefuna, Senator Akpabio was not satisfied with all what Governor Udom Emmanuel had done for him, he wanted more. Unable to contain his raw human impulses, he plotted for the fall of a man who treated him with respect and total gratitude. He defected to the APC and worked for the electoral defeat of a man who had done him no harm.

Like Okonkwo, Akpabio was to go down in electrical flames; consumed by the fire of the people who were aghast at the manner he treated a man who had shown him total respect, gratitude and love. The lesson to be learned from this is simple: Do no harm to those who wish you no harm for you may be consumed by the wrath of God

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