Pa Ikhide: The writer that never wrote By Akhigbe Samson


Published in the Scoopng and written by Akhigbe Samson

The first time I met Ikhide Ikheloa was on the narrow path leading to the stream in that year many moons ago. The title ‘Pa’ was absent in his sobriquet. Then, was when men drank from the tusk of an elephant and women wore jigidas swinging precariously on a shapely waistline held firmly on behinds that were comely to behold. The intent of our meeting was to share ideas on the need to protest the injustice meted out to our kinsman – Bonny. As young men growing up in Uromi, he [Ikhide] was not a genial fellow, he came across as brash and impatient. Having gone past the initial shock of our meeting, we later bonded as a dog and cat would, and broke many kolas together. To think that Ikhide would be shipped to a land beyond the reach of the sky remains a mystery. I remember fondly as he bandied with the Egbesu boys from Etsako and once removed sacred beads from Esu’s waist.

Within the Nigerian Social media space and circus, Ikhide Ikheloa undoubtedly has carved a niche for himself. With an eclectic mix of e-children, followers and haters, his name is not too far from memory when the names of opinion moulders in the Nigerian media space are listed. 
The stark reality is that he massages his words with the same dexterity the Igbo boys in Ladipo, Mushin massage large morsels of akpu. 
A controversial literary critic who is not afraid to spank the best of writers, Ikhide is himself shy of writing or succinctly put, he is  shy of ‘writing a book’. The jury holds the notion that he carries the scar of criticism, a fear crippled by his personality. 
Rather than write a book and be criticised, he would rather read and criticize. He continuously and stubbornly holds on to the idea that the ‘book’ represents the fading Holy Roman Empire hanging precariously on the slopes of Armageddon and dealing with the theses of Luther and other Protestants.
His idea of the book is reaching beyond the library to unconventional places, and in his literary altruism, he advocates for books beyond shelves. He continues to champion a situation where books can be read everywhere and anywhere without the constraints of location.

 One flaw in this e-book campaign is that the Twitter generation is one suffering from attention deficit. There are so many distractions when a  mobile device is used as a reading tool. Despite this flaw, Pa Ikhide remains stubborn in his push for the e-book. 

When accused of not writing a book, he adamantly posits that “the day will not come when I write a book. I fully expect to die without ever writing a book”. Such hardcore position reflects a sold out belief in the forever existence of mobile devices to provide materials for reading.

If perchance, writers adopt this hard-line posture and put all materials online, it would mean that our literary existence will depend solely on an electronic device. We dare ask Pa Ikhide if he has factored the world’s 30% population who have no access to electronic devices

. In defence of his position, he notes “people are reading; they are simply not reading books. The book reading culture is dying everywhere in the world. 

Writers and publishers are slowly beginning to look at creative ways of meeting the audience digitally, which is where they are. Many people read their cellphones, iPads, laptops, etc. They just don’t read books as much. However writers insist on producing books that no one will read”
His unwavering adulation of Chinua Achebe is another curious aspect in the Ikhide mystery.

 In one of Chimamamda Adichie’s stories, she revealed that her family lived in an apartment vacated by Achebe, perhaps Pa Ikhide was a co-tenant of the legendary story teller. Ikhide’s use of fabricated proverbs and fiction to create social satires emphasises his deification of Achebe. 

This curious romance is visible in his defence of Achebe, he argues, “to imply that Achebe was an ordinary writer is beneath contempt”.

His latest political project is Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC). The same caustic verbiage used to spank writers reflect in his criticism of Nigeria’s political class. His mishmash of opinions and double, sometimes triple speak has earned him the moniker “Pa Lienus”. 

The concept of “Pa Lienus” in the Ikhide contraption speaks of an alter ego created by fluke to deflect the realities of a writer who wants to write to anger people to righteousness or self loathing, yet appeal to their sense of worthlessness at the same time. Lienus, the online reader who writes goes back and forth with the use of epithets to adulate the people he dislikes. 

The richness and complexity of Pa Lienus reveals a comical being who understands the futility of seriousness and exploits satire to deliver sermons that are neither edifying or destructive. Ikhide has mastered the art of stealth insult, using images and metaphors to mask the very potent and harsh message he intends to deliver.

To label Ikhide Ikheloa a comedian, critic or social commentator is understating his capabilities, he is in my opinion an unidentified writing object.
PS: The opening paragraph happened in the imaginations of the writer.
Today is Ikhide’s birthday


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