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Elechi Amadi (born 12 May 1934) is a Nigerian author of plays and novels that are generally about African village life, customs, beliefs and religious practices, as they were before contact with the Western world. Amadi is best regarded for his 1966 first novel, The Concubine, which has been called "an outstanding work of pure fiction".
Born in 1934, in Aluu in the Ikwerre local government area of Rivers State, Nigeria, Elechi Amadi attended Government College, Umuahia (1948-1952), Survey School, Oyo (1953-1954), and the University of Ibadan (1955-1959), where he obtained a degree in Physics and Mathematics.
He worked for a time as a land surveyor and later was a teacher at several schools, including the Nigerian Military School, Zaria (1963-1966). Amadi did military service in the Nigerian army and was on the Nigerian side during the Nigeria-Biafra War, retiring in the rank of Captain. After the war Amadi left the army to work for the Rivers State government. Positions he held include Permanent Secretary (1973-1983), Commissioner for Education (1987-1988) and Commissioner for Lands and Housing (1989-1990).
He has been writer-in-residence and lecturer at Rivers State College of Education, where he has also been Dean of Arts, head of the Literature Department and Director of General Studies.
On 13 May 1989 a symposium was held at the University of Port Harcourt to celebrate Amadi's 55th birthday.
In May 2004, a conference was organized by the Association of Nigerian Authors, Rivers State Branch, to mark Elechi Amadi's 70th birthday.
- 1992 - Rivers State Silver Jubilee Merit Award
- 2003 - honorary doctorate, Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Education, honoris causa, awarded by Rivers State University of Science and Technology
- 2003 - Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Education
- 2003 - Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR)
Work and critical reception
Amadi's first novel, The Concubine, was published in London in 1966 and was hailed as a "most accomplished first performance". Alastair Niven in his critical study of the novel wrote: "Rooted firmly among the hunting and fishing villages of the Niger delta, The Concubine nevertheless possesses the timelessness and universality of a major novel." The Concubine was made into a film, written by Elechi Amadi and directed by accomplished Nollywood film director Andy Amenechi, which premiered in Abuja in March 2007.
The setting of Amachi's second novel, The Great Ponds, published in 1969, is pre-colonial Eastern Nigeria, and is about the battle between two village communities over possession of a pond.
In 1973 Amadi autobiographical non-fiction, Sunset in Biafra, was published. It records his personal experiences in the Nigeria-Biafra war, and according to Niven "is written in a compelling narrative form as though it were a novel".
- The Concubine (novel) - 1966 (London: Heinemann African Writers Series); Ibadan: Heinemann Books 1993 ISBN 0-435-90025-0
- The Great Ponds (novel) - 1969, Heinemann
- Sunset in Biafra (war diary) - 1973
- Isiburu (play) - 1973, Heinemann
- Peppersoup and The Road (plays, combined volume) 1977; Ibadan: Onibonoje Publishers
- Dancer of Johannesburg (play) - 1978, Ibadan: Onibonoje Publishers
- The Slave (novel) - 1978, Heinemann
- Ethics in Nigerian Culture (philosophy) - 1982, London: Heinemann
- Estrangement (novel) - 1986, Heinemann African Writers Series
- The Woman of Calabar (play) - 2002, Port Harcourt: Gitelle Press
- Speaking and Singing (essays and poems) - 2003, University of Port Harcourt Press
- Collected Plays (ed. Seiyifa Koroye) - 2004, Port Harcourt: Pearl Publishers
- Ebele Eko, Elechi Amadi: The Man and his Work. 1991, Yaba, Lagos: Kraft Books Ltd.
- Willfried Feuser and Ebele Eko (eds), Elechi Amadi at 55. 1994, Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books.
- Seiyifa Koroye, Critical Perspectives on Elechi Amadi. 2008, Port Harcourt: Pearl Publishers/Association of Nigerian Authors.
- Eldred Jones, "African Literature 1966-1967", African Forum, vol. 3, no. 1, p.5.
- Hans M. Zell, Carol Bundy, Virginia Coulon, A New Reader's Guide to African Literature, Heinemann Educational Books, 1983; pp. 350-351.
- Elechi Amadi website, CV.
- Preface to Seiyifa Koroye, Critical Perspectives on Elechi Amadi, Port Harcourt: Pearl Publishers/Association of Nigerian Authors.
- "Gunmen kidnap Nigerian novelist", BBC News, 6 January 2009.
- Jimitota Onoyume and Samuel Oyadongha, "Nigeria: Novelist, Elechi Amadi Kidnapped, Freed After 23 Hours", AllAfrica, 7 January 2009.
- A Celebration of J. P. Clarke's 50 Years of Artistry, A Presentation by Elechi Amadi - 13 August, 2010.
- Eustace Palmer, "Elechi Amadi and Flora Nwapa", African Literarture Today, no. 1, 1969, p. 56.
- Alastair Niven, A Critical View on Elechi Amadi's "The Concubine" (London, 1981), p. 7.
- Elechi Amadi website, videos.
- Niven, A Critical View on Elechi Amadi's "The Concubine", (1981), p. 5.