Police take spotlight at Adimora-Ezeigbo’s reunion with colleagues, students

Head of Department of English, University of Lagos Hope Eghagha; guest author, Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and moderator, Prof. C. Maduagwu, at the department’s Reading Session… in Lagos

It was a happy reunion with former colleagues and students last week, as Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo was hosted at the Board Room 402, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos. She was guest author at the Department of English’s Reading Session, where she retired a few years ago. Through its current HOD, Prof. Hope Eghagha, the English department regularly hosts writers to acquaint its students with trends in the literary scene.

However, rather than the usual academic stuffs, the reading session had The Nigeria Police as butt of discussion, as it focused on Adimora-Ezeigbo’s recent nasty experience with that institution of law and order that has far fallen rather short of its mandate in securing the lives and confidence of Nigerians. Adimora-Ezeigbo, who said she uses her stories to address happenings in society, which inspire as a writer, said, “When you see something that is wrong and you want to address it, sometimes, any subject is good subject in writing, like emotional or physical things about your baby, husband, etc; you just write about them.”

Adimora-Ezeigbo enthralled her audience with her recent encounter with the police a short story she entitled ‘Mr. President Change Agent.’ It tells the story of the criminal acts of some police men, where they stop vehicles at random and forcefully collect bribes without a care. ‘Mr. President Change Agent’ is due out in November in an international journal. She noted that it was her experience, which she fictionalised.

She explained, “I was stopped on the highway and the policeman forced me to give him money; he detained me for over an hour and he didn’t allow me to go and my papers are being examined. Initially, I refuse to give him the money, but eventually I had to because it seems he was going to keep me there and I was even afraid he might kill me.

“In fact, there was one of the commissioners in Abakaliki, who ask me to give the names of the police man, who harassed me, but I didn’t want to get him into problem. So, what you have here in this story is fictionalised name; it isn’t the real name. But that was exactly what I suffered. The short story was an experience I had in Abakaliki where I live now; it’s about the Nigeria Police force, what they are doing on the road.”

She noted that there are over 40 police check-ups on the road from Awka to Abakaliki, with each group collecting money from motorists, noting that drivers have to pay to avoid being delayed.

In a similar context, Prof. Daramola Adeyemi, said he had similar encounter where a policeman stopped him and offered him POS machine if he didn’t have money with him.

Although a feminist writer, Adimora-Ezeigbo said sometimes feminism is not as complicated as people think. In her words, “It simply means that women must be given equal right with men in every area of life; women should be seen as equal partners with men. Feminism empowers women and when you see some of the feminist activists like those who are fighting for girl child education, it simply means that girl children should be given equal opportunity to education as boys are.”

The writer, who is also popular for developing the African children literary genre, said she writes short stories as well fiction. She stated that her most striking disappointment was with her first book, which she submitted to a publisher in London and was rejected. Incidentally, the same book was later published by another publisher in London, adding, “I was shattered when I received that rejection; they told me they wouldn’t publish it. It was very disappointing!”

She, however, advised young writers to keep writing even when there are limitations, adding, ”I love writing and have always wanted to be a writer when I was a child. So even now that I have retired from here, but I am still teaching in Federal University in Ebonyi State. I am happy that I can still write; so, that is one good thing about writing, any form of writing. Writing knows no age; you keep doing it until you are no longer able to do it or you die like Buchi Emecheta is gone now. She wrote 20 novels, books for children, plays for BBC. So, she is was very polarity and now she is no more.”

Adimora-Ezeigbo said writing for newspapers taught her to meet deadlines, which perhaps gave her encouragement in writing. Also a piece was read as a tribute to Buchi Emecheta. Adimora-Ezeigbo’s biography, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo: Life and Literature written by Ezechi Onyerionwu, was properly introduced to the audience.

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