Writer Dillibe Onyeama dies at 71

Famous Nigerian writer Dillibe Onyeama has passed away at 71.

His son, Dillibe Jnr. announced his father’s passing on his Facebook page on Friday.

Sharing pictures of the deceased, the grieving son stated that he has learnt a lot from his father’s life.

“Even though we were far apart, I have never stopped loving you, never stopped thinking about you.

“I’ve learned a lot from your life, your love and your motivational words. Until we meet in the resurrection morning sweet daddy.

“Go with God. This isn’t goodbye,” Dilibe Jnr. stated

The older Onyeama was famous for his controversial novel, Nigger at Eton, where he detailed the racial discrimination he faced at the Eton College.

Onyeama was the first black boy to be admitted to the British school in the 1960s.

The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), family and some community members have expressed shock over the death of Onyeama, who died on November 10.

The Enugu State Chairman of ANA, Mr Zulu Ofoelue, said it received with shock, news of the death of the eminent author, publisher and former chairman of ANA Enugu.

“He was a driving force who created a number of programmes including the book fair held yearly between 2003 and 2005, which he powered using ANA and his Delta Publishing Company.

“Thereafter, he was to continue the book fair later under his Delta Book Club,”.

The chairman said that Dillibe was one of the greatest names in creative writing in Nigeria.

According to him, his novel, Godfather of Voodoo, among many other books, had shot him to limelight when it was published in 1985 and it was a book which every young person struggled to read. 

“Dillibe will never be forgotten in the world of creative writing to which he contributed so much. May his soul Rest In Peace”.

In her reaction, Dr Adaobi Nwoye, the President of the Coal City Literary Forum (CCLF) described Dilibe as a “jolly good fellow and very progressive” especially when it came to helping a fellow writer to grow.

“He will be fondly missed by the literary community especially here in Enugu,” she said.

Some members of his larger community, Agbaja Leaders of Thought, expressed shock at his demise as he participated actively in the just concluded Agbaja Summit held on Nov. 2 in Enugu.

A member of the group, Prof Mike Iloeje, said “I’m shocked. Dillibe was unique & rare. 

“Here, was a writer who wrote, not for the money, but for the love of the art. I voraciously read more than 13 of his books; patronized and promoted his writings; and appreciated the way he used his voice & platform to challenge many norms.

“A brave Agbaja son. May his soul rest in the bosom of the Lord”.

According to Mr Ndubuisi Agu, the consolation is that though he died but he lives as remembered because if you don’t want to be forgotten at death, write something worth reading or do something worth writing upon.

“Dilibe wrote things we are reading and have lived a life to be chronicled,” he said.

A journalist, Mr Sheddy Ozoene, said his demise was shocking adding that he was a great man who had done much to project his writings.

Dilibe Charles Onyeama was born in 1951 in Enugu and hailed from Eke in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. His father was Justice Dadi Onyeama, Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and Judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The author was famous for the novel, “Nigger at Eton” where he detailed the racial discrimination he faced at the Eton College.

On January 19, 1965, Onyeama enrolled at Eton and in 1969, he became the first black person to finish their studies at the British school.

He wrote a book Nigger at Eton published in 1972, by Leslie Frewin, about his experience of racism at Eton which resulted in him being banned from visiting the school.

In 2020, Eton College officially apologised to him.

Reacting to the apology, late Onyeama believed that it occurred as a result of the unprecedented “Black Lives Matter “ protests in the summer of 2020, when 270 towns and cities held anti-racist demonstrations.

Other books he published include Juju, Secret Society, Revenge of the Medicine Man, and Godfathers of Voodoo. (NAN)

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