Saturday, 3 June 2017

Prof Orabueze charts a new academic discourse

By Ifeyinwa David

A university don, Prof Florence Onyebuchi Orabueze has charted a new academic discourse recently with her postulation that Obika, and not Ezeulu is the tragic hero in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.

This postulation is contained in the 117th inaugural lecture of the Nigerian premier university, the University of Nigeria titled: THE NOVELIST AS A PSYCHOANALYST: THE UNTOLD STORY OF TRAGIC ‘HEROES’ IN CHINUA ACHEBE’S THINGS FALL APART AND ARROW OF GOD which was held recently inside Princess Alexandra Auditorium [PAA], in UNN.

Prof Orabueze, a professor of English and Literary Studies of the University of Nigeria, in her lecture, deflated the popular views that Okonkwo and Ezeulu in Chinua Achebe's most popular books, Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God, respectively, are tragic heros.

Shifting conspicuously from such wide held views,and placing her studies under the lens of Sigmund Freud's theory, Prof Orabueze argued with well articulated analyses that the two characters are only manifesting the symptoms of Psycho-pathological Disorders, and not tragic flaws such as anger, impatience, pride, fearlessness, etc..

These are Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Okonkwo, and Paranoid Schizophrenic Disorder in Ezeulu which she argued are induced by nature or heredity and nuture or environment.

The 117th inaugural lecturer who is a 1984 product of Girls Secondary School, Nnewi defined tragic hero after the Greek Philosopher, Aristotle in his popular book known as Poetics as a character whose fall is caused by his own errors of judgement, and as he/she insists on the common good of his community.

Prof Orabueze, a 1988 graduate of English and Literary Studies further argued that Oedipus is a good example of a tragic hero whose fall was as a result of his insisting on the common good of his community.

‘However, Okonkwo and Ezeulu do not suffer a fall as a result of the interest in the good of their communities-Umuofia and Umuaro-respectively, but as a result of personal advantage and revenge.

‘Moreover, their tragic flaws are not principally an error of judgement on their part, but as a result of a combination of nature and nurture problems’, she maintained.

The Nnewi born erudite scholar cited from the two novels enough evidence to buttress her arguments that Okonkwo and Ezeulu are not tragic heroes.

She further argued that Okonkwo’s life in the world of Things Fall Apart is ruled by his fear of being called a failure and a weakling like his father, Unoka, while Ezeulu’s lack of contentment was his greatest undoing. 

Orabueze also stated that Ezeulu has the opportunity to salvage Umuaro from crises, and instead opted for revenge which he has been nursing in his heart against his people for abandoning him in prison at Okperi, and thus paving the way for Obika to sacrifice himself for normalcy to return.

'But then, it has become too late for Ezeulu as the entire villages in Umuaro have been converted to the white man's religion', she argued. 

Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Nigeria, Prof Benjamin Chukwuma Ozumba has described the 117th inaugural lecture as a blockburster, highly educative and entertaining..

The Enugwu-Ukwu born Vice-Chancellor stated that Prof Orabueze had lived up to the standard expected of her in her inaugural lecture, reiterating his administration’s stance to encourage professors to give their inaugural lecture.

Prof Chukwuma Ozumba who came in the company of his amiable wife, Pharmacist Chinelo Ozumba was impressed at the caliber of audience that came to listen to the 117th inaugural lecture.

He further said that the Webometrics ranking of universities that had placed the University of Nigeria in the first position in Nigeria is a testament of his administration’s resolve to encourage learning and research in all ramifications.

The 117th inaugural lecture is exemplary in its vastness, and delivery, though we did not expect anything less from Prof Orabueze.

Similarly, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics, Prof James Chukwuma Ogbonna has said that Prof Orabueze’s study was vast and diversified as it navigated through many disciplines like Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy, Psychology, and even Psychiatry to link up to linguistics.

In his remarks, the husband of the 117th inaugural lecturer, Chief [Sir] Alexander Ogochukwu Orabueze has stated that his wife, Prof Florence Onyekachi Orabueze has made him proud.

The Nnewi born Chartered Accountant could not hide his excitement listening to his wife as she thrilled the audience with her eloquence, and stated that Prof Orabueze has metamorphosed from the little fragile girl he married when she was a 300 level student in English and Literary Studies Department in 1987 to an erudite scholar, a Professor of English and Literary Studies.

‘I married Florence when she was only 21 years in 1987, but I knew from the outset that she would make me proud.

‘I saw determination and vision in her. I saw discipline and good character strength. Florence has a sense of time and integrity. She is always aiming for the best.

‘Most importantly, she is very respectful and full of love for people. She frowns seriously at laziness and any form of indiscipline.

‘She is very hardworking, and has been able to inculcate her virtues in our children. All our four children are professionals: Barr Chiamaka Orabueze, Dr. Ibuchukwu Orabueze, Engr. Ikenna Orabueze and Barr Chukwunedum Orabueze.

‘I always say that if I have my wife and my children around me, my world is complete. Today, she has made me a very proud husband’, he enthused.

Similarly, the National President of the University of Nigeria Alumni Association, USA [UNAA USA], Prof Nick Muoneke stated that Prof Orabueze has actually exposed the mind of Chinua Achebe, the author of Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God.

Prof Muoneke who hails from Enugu Nanka said that the test for a good lecturer is being able to bring out something out of nothing or something new out of an old or seemingly exhausted area.

‘Florence has been able to carry her audience along in her analyses of Achebe’s two best novels: Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God.

I enjoyed her lecture, not only because I have read the two novels many times but also because for the first time in my whole life, somebody is exposing the mind of the author in two areas that are very critical to us, Africans: colonization, and the fact that his protagonists-Okonkwo and Ezeulu, respectively who hitherto were seen as tragic heroes were not.

Prof Florence Orabueze has really given a very good lecture, though I must confess I did not expect anything less from her, because I have known her for a long time as a disciplined and hardworking woman.    

In his closing remarks, the Chairman, Senate Ceremonials Committee, Prof Kenneth Ofokansi praised the 117th inaugural lecturer for her taking up the challenge of delivering the 117th inaugural lecture within six weeks of notice.

Prof Ofokansi stated that such great feat should be emulated, because it only points to the fact that Prof Orabueze had already prepared her lecture in advance.

‘The fact that it was barely seven months ago she was promoted to a professor, and took a date six weeks ago spoke volumes of her preparedness to face challenges.

‘I congratulate and commend her for such a diversified lecture well delivered, as you can see that her audience were lively all through the lecture’, he said.  

Some personalities who attended the 117th inaugural lecture were the Chancellor, Nnewi Anglican Diocese, Rtd Justice Eugene Ubaezuonu [Agba Nnewi], Rtd Commisioner for Police, Enugu State, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu who is a first-class graduate of Psychology, UNN.

Other dignitaries were traditional rulers from different kingdoms, principal officers of the university, nuclear and extended family of the inaugural lecturer, Enugu branch of the University of Nigeria Alumni Association led by its president, Comrade Okey Emeter.

The Nnewi Women Association, Enugu, friends of Prof Florence Orabueze, students, lecturers and staff of the university, especially those in English and Literary Studies Department were visibly present.

In attendance also were the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof Christian Onyeji, the Head, English and Literary Studies Department, Prof Ikenna Dieke, the Former Heads in the same Department, Prof Damian Opata, Prof Nicholas Akwanya, Prof Sam Onuigbo, and Prof Nnadozie Inyama.  

Worthy of note is that the 117th inaugural lecturer, Prof Florence Onyebuchi Orabueze has published over sixty critical works both in local and international journals, supervised over hundred projects and thesis, authored many poems and a novel, and is a member of many literary and non-literary associations globally.   


  1. The most interesting lecture ever heard

  2. The most interesting lecture ever heard


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