By Ada Nwanagum
Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, an erudite scholar, writer and professor of English language, has contributed immensely to the growth of the Department of English language at the University of Lagos, as well as to the scholarly development of English language in Nigeria. She authored many books, including novels, collection of short stories and children’s books. Among the awards she bagged in Nigeria is the Nigeria Prize for Literature.
Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo was born and raised in Eastern Nigeria. She spent most of her time in Lagos state, but now, lives in Ebonyi state, where she lectures at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ikwo.
She is the first child of Joshua and Christiana Adimora and has five siblings. Raised partially in a rural environment and partially in the city, she combines these two factors, as background and setting for her children’s stories and adult fiction. Though born in Eastern Nigeria, she has lived in different parts of the country – East, North and West. She has travelled extensively in Africa, Europe and in the USA.
Professor Akachi obtained her Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Masters (MA) degrees in English from the University of Lagos and her Ph.D from University of Ibadan, in Nigeria. She also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from University of Lagos. She is married to Professor Chris Ezeigbo and they have three children.
A lecturer, writer, novelist, critic, essayist, journalist, and administrator, she was appointed a professor of English at University of Lagos in 1999. She has taught at this university, in the Department of English, since 1981. She headed the English Department in 1997 and 1998, from 2002-2005, and 2008-2009.
Her childhood dreams:
Like every other growing kids with dreams and ambitions, Professor Akachi has always dreamt of being a journalist, because, according to her, she loves writing.
“Initially, I wanted to be a journalist, but then, I got married as a second year undergraduate (early in my career, you might say) and decided that teaching would be the best profession for me, especially as my husband (a postgraduate student) was soon to become a practising surveyor and would be moving from one part of Nigeria to another in the course of his duty.
I wanted to be with him all the time and it would be easier for me to ask for a transfer as a teacher. I started my national service (NYSC) in Jos and later asked to be posted to Makurdi for my primary assignment to be with my husband. He was then with federal surveys.
When he was transferred further north, I had to go with him to Gusau and Kaduna before returning to Lagos where we started our life together. In that period, I had taught English language at Government Technical Training College, Makurdi; Federal Government Teachers’ College, Makurdi; Federal Government Girls’ Secondary School, Bakori and Federal Government College, Kaduna.
You see, when my husband decided to go back to academics three years later, I contacted my former department at the University of Lagos (which had actually wanted to retain me after my graduation) and was immediately offered appointment as a Graduate Assistant. I grabbed the opportunity. Then, both of us began to teach at the University of Lagos”.
About her combined professions which is teaching and writing, Professor Akachi said,“For me, writing and teaching are symbiotic. I have carried both professions along and they have blended so well. As an academic, I do a lot of research and have published locally and internationally. I am also a creative writer and derive so much satisfaction from both.”
Professor Akachi started writing early in her life. During her secondary school days at the then Archdeacon Crowther Memorial Girls’ School (ACMGS) by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Elelenwa, she became the president of the dramatic society and wrote many plays for the society to stage; which include a dramatisation of the founding of the school. Her love for writing continued as an undergraduate at the University of Lagos, where she was a member of the editorial board of the English Department’s students’ journal where she had published poems and short stories.
While answering questions posed by the audience during one of her outings in Lagos on how she has strived to attain heights in her career as a scholar, author, a successful mother and wife, she said, “As a writer, you have to be very observant. And also have to read books other people have written. If you don’t read, you can’t be a good writer. You have to open your eyes to what is happening in the society. You get your inspirations from a lot of things. Ideas come while reading other peoples stories, books and research works. What you observe on the streets can also trigger what to write. You must be open to different influences. As a writer, you must not procrastinate. You need to develop passion for your works and go the extra miles to write. Some established writers write every day. To be a successful writer, you must write every day; whether it makes sense or not. I married my husband when I was at the 200 level at University of Lagos and my husband, who I call the pillar of my success story stood by me, supported and also took care of the children while I was busy.
Like every other achiever, who had printed their names in the sand of time, Professor Akachi had left a good legacy as a writer. In her words, “My books and the books of other writers need more and more readers, just as it was when we were in school long ago and people were reading books all over the country. It’s enough for me that my books are being read and studied by students in Nigeria and other countries. I hope to write more books. Right now, I’m writing a book in Igbo language. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time”.
In September, 2015, Prof. Ezeigbo relocated to Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Ebonyi state, in South-East Nigeria, where she continued to teach students and mentor younger lecturers.