The Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo (FUNAI), Ikwo Local Government Ares of Ebonyi has honoured Prof. Akachi Ezeigbo with a ‘Distinguished Service Award’ for her contributions to human development.
The award was bestowed on her by the Department of English and Literary Studies (DELS) of the university at the Theatre Arts Auditorium of the institution on Wednesday.
The honours award was part of activities to mark her 78th birthday anniversary.
Speaking at the event, Prof. Sunday Elom, the Vice-Chancellor of the institution described Ezeigbo as a ‘rare breed’ scholar and a literary ‘iroko’ whose presence in the university has helped to shape the mission of the institution.
The VC who was represented by Prof. Abel Ezeoha, Deputy VC, Administration said that the awardee was an inspiration to students and staff of the institution and serve as a ‘goal post’ urging the students to emulate her exemplary character and conduct.
“What is happening is that we have found someone who should be a goal post; someone who can inspire our students, it is a privilege to be where she is at this moment and, if she cannot inspire you as a young student, I doubt what can inspire you.
“You cannot grow past your vision. Her vision is so tall that her presence is helping to shape our vision to be a world-class university; she is a world-class fellow in all ramifications,” Elom said.l
Dr Obi Amanze, the guest speaker and one of the students of Ezeigbo while extolling the virtues of the celebrant said that she has excelled both as a scholar and a wife.
Amanze described the literary icon as both a ‘womanist and feminist’ who had spent a greater part of her life fighting, advocating and defending the rights of women and their emancipation through her literary works.
“It is a well-known fact that the story of women has always been one of emancipation. Societies are structured such that women must struggle to find their feet and where they surmount, they aspire to climb the social ladder.
“The story of women has always been that of historical controversy, the woman had been perceived in terms of stereotypes which marks out as a special not well-understood category of mankind.
“I dare to describe Akachi Ezeigbo as a guardian angel of African feminist poet, it is important to underline that Prof. Ezeigbo is a humanist and as a humanist, she recognises that moral values are properly founded on human nature.
“Her writings are at once deep, critical and eclectic and my first encounter with her was in 1984 when I commenced my undergraduate work at the University of Lagos,” Amanze said.
Meanwhile, Dr John Otu, the Head of the Department, of English and Literary Studies said that the university approved the celebration of Ezeigbo due to her invaluable contributions to the institution.
Otu explained that Ezeigbo who was been celebrated by the institution had been celebrated all over the world including; the United States, the United Kingdom and Nigeria; just last week, she was celebrated by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU).
“It will be abnormal if we do not celebrate her, a prophet is without honour only in the place he is born, but, we have decided to prove that portion of the scripture wrong by celebrating our own,” Otu said.
NAN reports that Ezeigbo, a professor emeritus was a lecturer; writer, novelist, critic, essayist, journalist, and administrator. She was appointed a professor of English at the University of Lagos in 1999 and taught at this university, in the Department of English, since 1981.
She headed the English Department in 1997 and 1998, from 2002 to 2005, and from 2008–2009.
In September 2015, Ezeigbo relocated to Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Ebonyi where she currently lectures on a contract basis in the department of ELS.