Chukwuemeka “Akachi” Emmanuel Ugwoke, a Nigerian poet and editor of The Muse, the literary journal of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the oldest student journal in West Africa, has passed on at 21. Until his death by suicide on Monday, 13 May 2019, he was a final year undergraduate at the university’s Department of English and Literary Studies, where The Muse is housed, and a member of The Writers’ Community (TWC), a group of literary creatives in the university. He was a remarkable person, profoundly humane in his concern for others.
Akachi was born in February 1998. When he began writing, he chose “Akachi” as his pen name: literally, it means “Hand of God” or “Hand of Personal God,” but is a metonym for “The Work of God” or “What God Does.”
His published work includes:
- “Beginnings and Endings,” a prose piece in Kalahari Review
- “How to Paint a Boy,” a poem in Tuck Magazine
- “Blank Spaces,” a poem in African Writer
- “Revelation,” a poem in Nanty Greens
- “How to Remember a Place,” a nonfiction piece in Quintessenial Christian
He was a recipient of the James Nnaji Prize for Poetry, the student poetry award at the UNN’s Department of English.
Akachi suffered from depression and survived previous suicide attempts. After he left a note on Facebook and was found unconscious, he was carried to the university Medical Centre, where he began receiving treatment, and afterwards to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu State, where he passed on.
Akachi loved taking walks, liked talking literature and music and listening to Simi, liked watching football, and liked eating raw plantain. He was stuck trying to think through and answer great existential questions of meaning and fulfilment. More than anything, he wanted to be happy, and loved seeing others happy.
At the end of most of his conversations, Akachi told people: “Don’t die. Live.” At different moments in his life, through different relationships with people around, he was able to cause real joy for the people around him. That is what we should hold on to: Akachi at his very best, caring for the pain of others, wanting happiness for them even as it eluded him. He was a brilliant mind and a gifted poet, and that is how he should be remembered: as a light.
May he rest in peace.