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An Igbo Elegy on Hearing of the Passing Away of Professor Chinua Achebe By Chimamanda Adichie

An Igbo Elegy on Hearing of the Passing Away of Professor Chinua Achebe By Chimamanda Adichie


Ife mee.
Nnukwu ife mee.
Chinua Achebe anabago.

Onye edemede nke di egwu,
onye nnukwu uche,
onye obi oma.

Keduzi onye anyi ga-eji eme onu?
Keduzi onye anyi ga-eji jee mba?
Keduzi onye ga-akwado anyi?

Ebenebe egbu o!
Anya mmili julu m anya.
Chinua Achebe, naba no ndokwa.
O ga-adili gi mma.
Naba na ndokwa.

    -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


A tree has fallen.
A mighty tree has fallen!
Chinua Achebe is gone.

The inimitable wordsmith,
the sage,
the kind man.

Now who is there for us to boast about?
Who will be our rampart?
How are the mighty fallen!

My eyes are in flood with tears.
Chinua Achebe may your soul rest in peace.
It is well with you.
Rest in peace.

Translation by Mazi Nnamdi Nwigwe

16 Responses

  1. The translation is not literally correct. Quite a number of mistakes. Let me try to correct it.

    It starts..

    “Something happened
    Something big has happenend
    Chinua Achebe has gone

    The great writer,
    The intelligent person
    The kind person

    Who shall we boast (make mouth) with
    Who shall we use to shout (mba will have another meaning. Purely literal, it means, shout)
    Who will prepare us?

    Ebenebe egbu o! (I have no idea what this means)
    My eyes are filled with tears
    Chinia Achebe, go and stay in peace.
    It will be well with you
    Go in peace”

    My Igbo is not superb but this is far closer. I will get an expert to make an accurate translation.

  2. Mazi Nnamdi Nwigwe, this is a wonderful translation. I saw a horrible translation somewhere that literally translated the piece into English. “Something dreadful has happened”, the translation says.
    Of course, this is the literal meaning of ”Ife emee” which, as Nwigwe rightly translated, means “A tree has fallen.” and not “Ife mee” which of course would mean “May a tree fall” or “May/Let something happen”

  3. I personally didn’t like the translation ” a tree has fallen.” Felt it was too cliche. I enjoyed reading it in Igbo though. Anyway Igbo is much more interesting as a literary tool than English.

  4. Something has happened.
    Big thing has happened.
    Chinua Achebe has gone.

    The great writer.

    The intelligent man.

    The kind man.

    Who shall we boost with?

    who shall go for us?

    who will support us?

    This is a great surprise.

    my eyes is full of tears.

    Chinua Achebe, rest in perfect peace.

    It shall be well with you.

    Rest in peace. Baba!!!

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