Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

THERE WAS A COLLEGE: INTRODUCING THE UMUAHIAN: A GOLDEN JUBILEE PUBLICATION, EDITED BY CHINUA ACHEBE

Abstract
ABSTRACT

Government College, Umuahia is known as the alma mater of eight important Nigerian writers: Chinua Achebe, Elechi Amadi, Gabriel Okara, Chike Momah, I. N. C. Aniebo, Chukwuemeka Ike, Ken Saro-Wiwa and Christopher Okigbo. Many illustrious Nigerian scientists, intellectuals and public leaders passed through the college in its prime, and in West Africa the name of the school evokes an astounding range of success stories. But Umuahia's legend as ‘the Eton of the East’ and the primus inter pares of Nigeria's elite colonial institutions obscures its present reality: nothing remains of its past but its extensive grounds, landmark buildings, and the glittering roll call of dignitaries who once studied within its walls. In 1979, prompted by the many signs of impending doom, a group of old boys joined hands in a historicizing venture, The Umuahian: a golden jubilee publication – the commemorative booklet compiled by the school's most famous alumnus, Chinua Achebe, to mark the college's golden jubilee. The booklet conjured up the school's founding ideals and glorious past in order to lay the ground for its rehabilitation. This introductory essay explains why The Umuahian is an indispensable source for the literary, cultural and educational history of West Africa, contextualizing its singular construction of colonial educational heritage. Sample and hitherto unpublished texts from the booklet by Achebe, his editorial to The Umuahian and its coda, ‘Continuity and change in Nigerian education: a jubilee essay’, are included with the main article. While the contributors to The Umuahian pertain to elite circles, and the volume had a world-class literary figure as its editor, the volume itself was produced for a local occasion and rarefied local audience, had a very limited distribution, and subsequently fell into obscurity. It is in the spirit of the historical and academic retrieval of such locally published and little-known materials by African thinkers and writers that this work appears in the Local Intellectuals strand.

RÉSUMÉ

Le lycée Government College d’Umuahia est réputé pour avoir formé huit grands écrivains nigérians : Chinua Achebe, Elechi Amadi, Gabriel Okara, Chike Momah, I. N. C. Aniebo, Chukwuemeka Ike, Ken Saro-Wiwa et Christopher Okigbo. De nombreux scientifiques, intellectuels et gouvernants illustres sont passés dans ce lycée à ses plus belles heures, et en Afrique de l’Ouest le nom de cette école évoque un éventail étonnant d’histoires à succès. Or, la légende d’Umuahia comme « l’Eton de l’Orient » et le primus inter pares des prestigieuses institutions coloniales du Nigeria cache sa réalité actuelle : il ne subsiste de son passé que ses vastes terrains, ses bâtiments emblématiques et l’impressionnante liste de dignitaires qui y ont jadis étudié. En 1979, interpellé par le destin tragique qui s’annonçait, un groupe d’anciens élèves s’est lancé dans une entreprise d’historisation, The Umuahian: a golden jubilee publication - le livret commémoratif compilé par le plus célèbre des anciens élèves de l’école, Chinua Achebe, pour marquer le cinquantième anniversaire du lycée. Ce livret évoquait les idéaux fondateurs et le passé glorieux de l’école pour préparer les conditions de sa réhabilitation. Cet essai liminaire explique pourquoi The Umuahian est une source indispensable pour l’histoire littéraire, culturelle et éducative de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, en contextualisant sa construction singulière du patrimoine éducatif colonial. Des extraits et des textes jusqu’alors non publiés du livret d’Achebe, son éditorial à The Umuahian et son coda, « Continuité et changement dans l’éducation nigériane : un essai de jubilé », sont inclus dans l’article principal. Quand bien même les co-auteurs de The Umuahian appartenaient à des élites et le responsable éditorial du volume était un homme de lettres mondialement connu, le volume lui-même, produit pour une occasion locale et un lectorat local raréfié, et très faiblement distribué, a fini par tomber dans l’obscurité. C’est dans l’esprit de la recherche historique et académique de telles publications locales peu connues de penseurs et écrivains africains que cet ouvrage apparaît à la rubrique Lettrés locaux.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      THERE WAS A COLLEGE: INTRODUCING THE UMUAHIAN: A GOLDEN JUBILEE PUBLICATION, EDITED BY CHINUA ACHEBE
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      THERE WAS A COLLEGE: INTRODUCING THE UMUAHIAN: A GOLDEN JUBILEE PUBLICATION, EDITED BY CHINUA ACHEBE
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      THERE WAS A COLLEGE: INTRODUCING THE UMUAHIAN: A GOLDEN JUBILEE PUBLICATION, EDITED BY CHINUA ACHEBE
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

W. C. Bissell (2005) ‘Engaging colonial nostalgia’, Cultural Anthropology 20 (2): 215–48.

P. Nora (1989) ‘Between memory and history: les lieux de mémoire’, Representations 26: 725.

N. Nwangwu (1979) ‘The state take-over of schools in Nigeria: a controversy’, Journal of Educational Administration 17 (1): 7586.

T. Ochiagha (2014b) ‘The dangerous potency of the crossroads: colonial mimicry in Chukwuemeka Ike's The Bottled Leopard and Chike Momah's The Shining Ones: the Umuahia schooldays of Obinna Okoye’, The Lion and the Unicorn 38 (1): 86106.

S. Yamada (2009) ‘“Traditions” and cultural production: character training at Achimota School in colonial Ghana’, History of Education: Journal of the History of Education Society 38 (1): 2959.

M. Csapo (1983) ‘Universal primary education in Nigeria: its problems and implications’, African Studies Review 26 (1): 91106.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Ochiagha supplementary material
Ochiagha supplementary material 1

 PDF (467 KB)
467 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 62
Total number of PDF views: 146 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 232 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.