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Again, Chinua Achebe Rejects Nigerian Award

Published on November 13, 2011 by   ·   68 Comments

Just as he did some years ago, Professor Chinua Achebe, Nigerian literary giant has again rejected the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR.

The award would have been conferred on him alongside about 360 other awardees in different categories at a ceremony scheduled for next Monday, 14 November.

The writer is the second nominee that is turning down the National Honours award. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Minority leader of the House of Representatives, had earlier written President Goodluck Jonathan to indicate his rejection of the award of Order of the Federation (OFR) to be conferred on him. The lawmaker had queried the criteria used in nominating recipeints for the 2011 National Honours. Gbajabiamila argued in the letter to the President that national awards should be only be conferred on those who have made concrete contributions to the development of the country, unlike now, when it is being indiscriminately doled out as presidential favours.

However, In a short statement he issued today to indicate that he will not be available to be conferred with the award next Monday,  Achebe  said he is rejecting the award because the condition that made him do so seven years ago still exist in the country today.

“The reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved. It is inappropriate to offer it again to me. I must therefore regretfully decline the offer again,” Achebe said in the letter which he reportedly sent to Nigeria Ambassador to the United States.

Achebe had in 2004 rejected offer of national award from the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in protest of the political situation in Nigeria and his native Anambra State then.

The US based writer had in the rejection letter he wrote to the then President noted that: “I write this letter with a very heavy heart. For some time now I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom.  I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.

“Forty three years ago, at the first anniversary of Nigeria’s independence I was given the first Nigerian National Trophy for Literature. In 1979, I received two further honours – the Nigerian National Order of Merit and the Order of the Federal Republic – and in 1999 the first National Creativity Award.

“I accepted all these honours fully aware that Nigeria was not perfect; but I had a strong belief that we would outgrow our shortcomings under leaders committed to uniting our diverse peoples.  Nigeria’s condition today under your watch is, however, too dangerous for silence. I must register my disappointment and protest by declining to accept the high honour awarded me in the 2004 Honours List”.

Posted by on November 13, 2011, 6:16 am. Filed under National, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

68 Comments for “Again, Chinua Achebe Rejects Nigerian Award”

  1. Okey Benson

    One of the major problems that Nigerians have is entrenched into the negation of a positive protest. Prof. Chinua Achebe could be regarded as a symbol of positive protest in Nigeria. A protest from the hearth is the best. He is a gift for Nigeria, A visionary down to earth human being, whose foot is strong to withstand all the muds that could be thrown at him by those that desperately wanted him to accept these awards that he reasonably and intelligently rejected for the good of the entire people, and our dear nation, Nigeria. Nigerians, we need to make haste while the sunshine. Plant your own legazy while living.
    In life, it isn’t life that matters but the courage one brings to it. Which courage do you want to bring to the life of Nigeria? I guess hope, and tenacity of emulating people like Chinua Achebe. As they say,”a truth is an empty sack, if it is obvious it is obvious”. It is obvious that there are still remnants of love bearing people in Nigeria.

  2. Umeokwochi Uche

    I’m surprised that so many Nigerians are hailing Chinua Achebe for rejecting the national award. I’ll liken it to an international footballer that has reJected to come and serve his country. Why is his own different? How the change be made if he doesn’t want to serve his country. Coming to think of it how many Nigerians in Diaspora did they remember for this award? I thought wisdom comes with age but Chinua Achebe has proven me wrong. Also in which way has he personally affected Nigeria? Where he hails from in Anambra how developed is it. Which Educational institution has felt his impact as a literature writer? What contribution has he made to correct the ills of the government and society?
    I believe this award was a call to duty to serve his fatherland, so what & where is the morals of his book “Things fall apart”. I believe things are easier said than done. All the respect I had for him is all gone. He should bury his head in shame.

  3. Useless country,useless awards.
    Jonathan should add his useless award to that of business monopolist -Aliko Dangote so that everything will turn to uselessness itself, tufiakwa.

  4. Chris

    Bravo! It is an insult putting Chinua Achebe in the same category as the Dangotes of this country. The National Awards has been turned to a joke and a largesse doled out to unscrupulous politicians and friends of the government in power. No merit, no honour attached

  5. Aja Aja

    Our problems are within us. 99% of Nigerians are corrupt.

  6. Edi

    Thank you TA for having the courage to say something about what most people know as the cause of our problems.. From the comments by others, it appears that all Nigerian leaders are corrupt and without direction. Leaders meaning From the Presidency to the head of the family. When we travel abroad, they view ALL NIGERIANS AS CORRUPT AND CRIMINALS!!!! We acquired another title as a terrorist state when a single Nigerian resident in the UK attempted to blow up a US airliner. CAN ALL NIGERIANS BE TERRORISTS? Can all past and present Nigerian govt be bad from inception. Is there nothing good about our govt? Are Nigerian followers doing what they should do? All the technological problems ranging from car manufacturing to cellphones are what the Nigerian private sector can address. Are we doing what we should do to make Nigeria greater. We must address these issues to move on. I respect prof. for his conviction but we must address our problems by providing solutions not just criticism.

  7. Franklyyours

    The rejection of the National REWARD oh i mean award is a ray of light in the tunnel of darkness of Nigeria; a silver linning in her cloud of doubt; a hope for the masses, and doom for bad leadership!

  8. TA

    Mr Mike, with all due respect to you, I beg to disagree that it’s only those in power that are corrupt. Let us all search ourselves and be realistic. How many of us have reported or asked questions about our brothers, friends, niece or neighbours that live more than they earn?. Are those in power ghost or people like us?.

  9. Austyn

    I completely agree with you, it,s easier for them to sit where ever they are and criticise the government in power without them doing anything to improve the lot of there people. I think the goverment should learn to really award deserving people and hypocrites

  10. Austyn

    Nothing can be more useless like someone calling his or her country useless and still live in it. I think you must be the defination of useless

  11. mekus

    we need more elites to imitate Chnua.Not useless sychophants parading themselves as elites

  12. Nnena Orji

    The previous commentator is soooooooo clearly a government plant. Sad really.


    why do Nigeria wasting time in award instady on electrib power and road reconstruction. Unlike Abia gov is now chasing masses with levies

  14. Ger

    You’re kidding right? I would do the same exact thing. Why would he accept it? As he’d referenced, he’s watched the country go from bad to what kind of recognition would he be accepting? Please…give me a break. There is nothing to acknowledge when so many are suffering so harshly. Past that, if they spent as much time actually fixing the condition within the country as they did recognizing people and figuring out new ways to have celebrations and such…maybe we wouldn’t be in this problem. But hey, that’s just my view…clearly you believe otherwise…

  15. Ger

    LOL you are kidding too right?! Sit back and criticize as opposed to what? Entering the government where to do what?! Clearly there is an agenda set into place that assists those who are benefiting now…give me a break!

  16. Ayo

    Akinwale Olawale!!
    Are you serious?? You think Nigerians didn’t suffer under colonization? And are not still suffering from its legacies? You think the Oyinbo were/are not corrupt?? How is it then that they are getting obscenely rich off our oil, while we are importing refined petroleum products? Our (read: your) colonial mentality is our biggest problem. Please emancipate yourself by understanding your history.

  17. chuggii

    uche my brother, i agree with u. this is a clear case of unpatriotism. but he gladly collected an award fron the US and other countries which shows that he has has no regard whatsoever for our dearly beloved country. charity they say begins at home. chinua achebe apart from his story books, what else has he done for this great nation? dont get me wrong, i am not a fan of the other awardees but since the nation decided to honour him, he shouldnt have turned it down. only but a few deserved the awards i agree and chinua deserved it bc of his academic contribution to this great state. i personally was not impressed by his decision to reject the award. in the future our children will say that the labour of our past heroes were in vain.

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