Thousands of mourners are attending the funeral of renowned author Chinua Achebe in his Nigerian home town of Ogidi in Anambra state.
Chinua Achebe’s body arrived back in Nigeria on Wednesday from the US, where he died in March at the age of 82.
Relatives and officials were at Enugu airport in southern Nigeria as the coffin was lowered from the plane.
Chinua Achebe is widely regarded as the founding father of African literature in English.
His 1958 debut novel, Things Fall Apart, which dealt with the impact of colonialism in Africa, has sold more than 10 million copies.
Writer and academic Chinua Achebe went on to write more than 20 works – some fiercely critical of politicians and what he described as a failure of leadership in Nigeria.
He had been living in the US since 1990 after a car crash left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair, returning to Nigeria infrequently.
Chinua Achebe is being given a colorful, grand send off in his home town of Ogidi.
Much of what he abhorred is on full display at the service – political patronage and the trappings of power, he says.
Local politicians were escorted into the church by men from the State Security Service wielding sophisticated weapons while a large number of men and women came dressed head to toe in political party outfits.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan and Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama flew in by helicopter to attend the service at the packed Anglican church in Ogidi.
Thousands of mourners are following proceedings from huge marquees erected outside.
Although people are mourning, the life of the influential Nigerian writer is also being celebrated, our reporter says.
“I left my house in Asaba [a nearby city] at 05:00 this morning in order to pay my last respects for this illustrious son of Nigeria who has done his people proud,” said Sylvanus John, a 31-year-old engineer, AFP news agency reports.
Chinua Achebe’s body will be buried near his family’s home in Ogidi, a small town in the hills of Anambra state, later on Thursday.