Although I had met him early in life through his books, my first encounter with Captain Elechi Amadi (Rtd) was in the late 80s through the Association Of Nigerian Authors (ANA) which I joined after qualifying as a Medical Doctor in 1980. Coming from a purely science background like the late accomplished writer, it was Amadi and some other literary icons of his generation who warmly welcomed me into the fold of writers and made my literary take off a very smooth one.
Apart from his writing, Elechi Amadi soon became a regular face at ANA Conventions where his wealth of experience and literary acumen were found very useful in a body of writers known for its sometimes restive membership. I could recollect that as far back as the 90’s, Amadi had advised the ANA to consider the Private Public Partnership (PPP) option in developing her landed property in Abuja in view of the Association’s inadequate financial and professional expertise to handle the project on its own.
Regrettably, his words of wisdom as an experienced Land Surveyor went unheeded for many years leading to massive loss of some of the property. It was only in 2014 under the leadership of Remi Raji as ANA President that ANA finally freed itself from the grips of those who had been holding it back, heeded Elechi Amadi’s golden advice and finally commenced the development of the long forgotten but now decimated ANA Land through the PPP option.
As a regular visitor to Port Harcourt since 1990 when I became ANA’s National Treasurer on to my tenure as ANA’s National President between 2005 to 2008 and even beyond, Elechi Amadi and his charming wife Preye became close friends, hosts and fountains of wisdom for me anytime I was in the ‘Garden City’.
I could still recollect a memorable visit to the family house in Aluu in Ikwerre Local Government of Rivers State during the celebration of one of his birthdays. After a delicious breakfast of boiled yam and palm oil in the bucolic environs of his home village, we were treated to a commemorative traditional wrestling competition amidst gaily dressed dancers and drummers.
Elechi Amadi’s versatility was indisputable. He was a Mathematician, Physicist, Surveyor, Soldier, Novelist, Poet as well as an accomplished Play Wright. His evergreen play, THE WOMAN OF CALABAR, a whimsical allegory to the ‘romantic prowess’ of a Calabar woman has continued to draw rave reviews years after its original appearance.
And even though Elechi Amadi lived a fulfilled life, I am still writing this Tribute with sadness over the loss of a good man, a mentor, an elegant writer, a wonderful friend who supported his family, friends and colleagues over the years with his gentle and caring nature.
Elechi Amadi had a gift of innovative thinking, a visionary spirit, and tenacious patience- ingredients that made him succeed in his various areas of human endeavors as a successful manager of men and events. He never judged or forced his opinions on anyone, but offered valuable and truthful advice that will surely be missed.
I consider it a privilege to have been a part of Elechi Amadi’s life. I commiserate with Dr Mrs Preye Amadi and the family on the departure of their loving husband, father and grandfather who was our friend and mentor.
May his gentle soul continue to rest in peace. Amen.
Wale Okediran was National President, Association Of Nigerian Authors (2005-2008)