One of Nigeria’s foremost literary icon, Eze (Professor) Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike, renowned novelist, traditional ruler and administrator who was the first indigenous registrar of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), passed away on January 9, 2020 at the age of 88.
Eze Professor Ike, born on 28th April 1931, died at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, after a brief illness. Until his death, he was the traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State. Survived by his wife, Professor Adebimpe Ike, the late monarch lost his only son, Prince Osita Ike, on December 16, 2016. He leaves no heir.
Ike attended Government College, Umuahia, Abia State, the same school attended by Nigeria’s foremost novelist, late Professor Chinua Achebe and Christopher Okigbo, a poet. He went on to study English, History, and Religion at the University of Ibadan. He later earned a Master’s degree at Stanford University, USA.
His literary works include, Toads for Super, published 1965, The Naked God’s (1970), The Potter’s Wheel (1973), Sunset at Dawn (1976), Expo ’77 (1980), The Chicken Chasers (1980), The Bottled Leopard (1985), Our Children Are Coming Home (1990), and Conspiracy of Silence.
Eze Professor Ike was remarkable for his unique brand of fiction that mixed lampoon, humour, and satire. His hometown, Ndikelionwu, was a regular feature in his writings.
Through his books, Eze Professor Ike, through sheer dexterity, used wit and satire to denounce evil in the society. He wrote on themes such as corruption, often using camouflage to get his messages across. He was subtle in his choice of words and conveying his messages, avoiding slamming his readers with direct teachings.
He had joined the services of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as an Administrative Assistant and Assistant Registrar in 1957. He became the Deputy Registrar of the university in 1960 and served as the Registrar and Secretary to the Governing Council of the University from 1963-1971. His last visit to the University of Nigeria was in October 2019 when he served as the Chairman of the 59th Founders’ Day Lecture of the University.
Obviously, his death has elicited flurry of reactions. Vice-Chancellor of UNN, Professor Charles Igwe, noted that the history of the University would not be complete without the prominent mention of Professor Ike as “he played a very significant role in ensuring that the University of Nigeria was reopened after the (Nigerian) civil war. Thus, we owe him lots of gratitude.”
As an administrative sage, his informed counsel will forever be missed. While God should grant eternal rest to his soul, institutions for which he was a part of, especially the UNN should immortalise him by naming a significant project in the university after him.
Chukwuemeka Ike would be immortalized by the virtue of that his books especially his bestseller, ‘Sunset At Dawn.’ The themes in his books also drew from experiences during the Biafran war. Though his community of Ndikelionwu would chose to remember him as a foremost traditional ruler or the UNN or WAEC as former Registrars, the world remembers him today as one of Nigeria’s successful novelists and a great writer.
Eze (Professor) Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike, renowned novelist, traditional ruler and administrator who was the first indigenous registrar of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), is dead. He was also a former Registrar of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and a former head of Nigerian Book Trust Foundation.