Anambra State Governor, Charles Chukwuma Soludo (CFR), made a significant announcement during the 63rd Nigerian Independence Anniversary celebration. He revealed that the Anambra International and Cargo Airport in Umueri will now be known as the Chinua Achebe International Passenger and Cargo Airport.
Governor Soludo explained that the decision to rename the airport after the late Professor Chinua Achebe was made after extensive consultations. An African and global hero, Achebeu declined two high Nigerian national honours during his lifetime in protest against perceived injustices in his home state. Governor Soludo emphasised that it was now Anambra’s responsibility to honour their greatest gift to the literary world. He also pledged to work with the federal government to develop an international airport that reflects Achebe’s legacy.
Renowned as Africa’s most influential writer, Chinua Achebe achieved global recognition for his masterpiece, “Things Fall Apart,” published in 1958. Achebe’s literary contributions were not limited to writing; he was also a critic, activist, organiser, publisher, politician, and an exceptional leader. He served as the president-general of his native town union in Ogidi, Anambra State, and held the position of vice chairman of Aminu Kano’s Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) during the Second Republic.
Achebe’s principled stance was evident when he rejected the high national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 2004 and again in 2011. In his rejection letter, he expressed concern over the state of his homeland, particularly the actions of a small group he perceived as renegades. Achebe believed that Nigeria’s problem lay in the failure of leadership rather than any inherent flaws in the country or its people.
Governor Soludo’s decision to rename the airport after Achebe has received widespread praise. Achebe’s literary contributions and his impact on Nigerian and African cultures are recognised globally. Tributes poured in from presidents to ordinary citizens when Achebe passed away in 2013. Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiongo, one of Achebe’s mentees, described him as a figure who transcended generations and geographies, with every African country claiming him as their own. Former US President Barack Obama hailed Achebe as a revolutionary author, educator, and cultural ambassador who shattered literary conventions and shaped the collective identity of Nigerians worldwide.
The renaming of the airport to the Chinua Achebe International Passenger and Cargo Airport is expected to attract global tourists, much like Bard College in New York built the Achebe House in his honour. Governor Soludo’s vision to transform Anambra State into a prosperous and livable homeland has received a significant boost with this announcement. The Chinua Achebe International Passenger and Cargo Airport will serve as a symbol of Anambra’s commitment to honouring its cultural icons and promoting tourism.