Chukwuemeka Ike

Renowned Novelist, Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike has died at the age of 88 years.

He died on Thursday in Nnewi, Anambra State.

The immediate past president of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Denja Abdullahi, said the death of Ike could be regarded as signifying the end of an era as he was a contemporary of the likes of Chinua Achebe, John Munonye, Cyprian Ekwensi, Nkem Nwankwo, Flora Nwapa, among others who wrote works of fiction that defined an era of our literary existence.

“He was a socially committed writer of a satiric streak. His works satirise the foibles of the society and they are delightful to read with striking titles. He was by nature also a very humble and genial person who stood out in his contributions, far beyond just being a writer, to the development of the Nigerian book industry,” he said.

Ike was born on 28 April 1931. He was a Nigerian writer known for a mixture of lampoon, humour and satire. He owed a little bit of his style to his Igbo cultural upbringing.

He studied history, English and Religious Studies at the University of Ibadan and earned a master’s degree at Stanford University.

Chukwuemeka started early education in his native town. He left his town for further education at Ife-Mbaise and then from 1945 to 1950, he attended Government College Umuahia.

He started writing at Umuahia for the school magazine, ‘The Umuahian,’ and he was also influenced by teachers including Saburi Biobaku, who had honours in English from Cambridge.

Some eminent Nigerian writers who also attended the school include Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, and Ken Saro Wiwa.

After completing his secondary education, he studied at the University of Ibadan. While at the college, he was invited by Chinua Achebe to join the magazine club. He was a king, Eze Ndikelionwu of the great Aro town Ndikelionwu in eastern Nigeria, with the title “Ikelionwu XI” in his hometown of Ndikelionwu in Anambra State.

Among many of the younger generation, he was popular as the author of Expo ’77, a critical look at academic examination abuses in West Africa. Ike was a former registrar of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

In Expo 77, Ike tackles the issue of examination abuses. He explores cheating through the eyes of a university registrar who is forced to hire a detective due to the lack of trust he has in some of his applicants’ résumés because test questions have been leaked.

The detective later discovered a wide variety of examination abuses; from the parents who demanded new test results for their children, to principals who allowed students to bring in textbooks for closed examinations. The author believed it was partly the corruption of the nation’s leaders that had permeated the society and led to rampant unethical excesses. In later years, the word “expo” was used in Nigeria as slang for academic cheating.

Ike’s hometown of Ndikelionwu has featured regularly in his works, notably Potter’s Wheel, Toads for Supper and The Bottled Leopard.