Tuesday, 2 April 2013

How The Accident That Crippled Achebe Happened.

 The  accident that crippled Achebe 

On one uneventful day in 1991, Achebe, in the company of his first son, Ike, was in high spirit. He had a conference to attend in the United States of America and wouldn’t want to miss his international flight from Lagos, scheduled for the following day. Read More After the cut...

 Earlier, he had been engaged in a flurry of activities, including attending events in his honour at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Achebe had also attended a marathon of meetings of Ogidi Town Union in his hometown. But America was on his mind soon after, and desperation crept in when, after travelling more than 60 kilometres from his hometown, Ogidi, near Onitsha in Anambra State, to Enugu to board a connecting flight to Lagos, he missed the flight. Unlike today, when there are flights to and fro Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Enugu, daily, the situation was different in 22 years ago.

The only option left for Achebe was to travel by road to Lagos, a distance of over 560 kilometres. Thus, he chattered a vehicle from the airport to Lagos. The take-off was smooth, and the driver was desirous of getting to his destination before nightfall, for he knew the urgency of the task ahead. However, fate played a cruel trick on the travellers, and the journey was truncated. At Unizik junction in Awka, about 30 minutes drive from the commercial city of Onitsha, the wagon, driving at top speed, lost its axle and somersaulted several times before crash-landing with a deadly thud. It was a gory sight as shrieks and blood melded on the scene of the accident. Though not a soul was lost in the accident, it left on its trail, a vehicular wreck and mortal agonies: Achebe lost both legs.

However, his son, Ike, and the driver, didn’t suffer severe wounds. The world was alarmed. The next few hours were too demanding on his life. The iconic author was in pains and his life was in jeopardy. Medical facilities around didn’t promise a remedy to his woes, and his life couldn’t be allowed to continue to hang by a thread. There was hope in the horizon, suddenly. Listless and battling for his life, Achebe was taken to London for adequate medicare. The medics in London did their best, but their best wasn’t enough to make him walk again. Achebe had to take consolation that he was alive. For a man who had been walking for six decades, a life on the wheelchair was too daunting. Yet, his nimble fingers continued to pen masterstrokes on papers, creating more works, both fiction and non-fiction. Things changed for the author of Things Fall Apart afterwards.

From:The Sun

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