Adieu, Idika my Friend!
By Aloy Chife
It is with great pain, the deepest possible sorrow and inordinate displeasure that I have received the news of the death of my friend, and colleague, Dr Ochaa Idika. Idika and I returned to Nigeria from the USA at about the same time in 2002 and for the most part, have worked together since then as professional colleagues. Above all, he was my very dear and trusted friend!
Idika was a moral, virtuous and decent man; remarkable qualities even in our famed kingdom of rude and priapic peasants where mediocrity and counterfeit reign and the mean spirit has become a fixed cultural type in a benighted cultural moment. He was an intellectual and philosopher who coveted reason to reflect on meaning and realized the world in great depth. A thinking man and a man of unsurpassed brilliance so erudite he left us with a kind of wit we have come to know as “Idika-isms” To wit, incisive words and expressions such as “underwhelming effort”, “prevaricating”, “wiper-bladding”, etc. Yet his was not the puerile sort of magniloquence so common in our public discourse today but one suffused with apercus and aphoristic magic. We can intuit the content, weight and manifold wisdom of an Idika-ism, by considering, and not flatteringly so, Charles Dickens and his “circumlocution office” (a govt dept that exists to do nothing). Such was the lacerating precision of his wit that even the anodyne weather conversation was an occasion to consume the most sumptuous prose for one's edification and most delectable enjoyment! His book, The Making of the Nigeria Telecoms Industry remains the seminal work in that field. All that prose, and yet the man was also an Engineer and Mathematician! A mind in equal parts startling and profound? Indeed, he was a most gifted and brilliant man!
Dr Idika excelled in his vocations and avocations, mastered many local Igbo and Italian dialects and spoke them as if he learnt from his mother's bosom. His febrile imagination allowed him to conceive a vision of a better world, and with compassion as his handmaid, he was very much aware of his social responsibility to his family, community and humanity in general. His convictions were actual, not notional as such he worked hard to find their practical expressions in improving the public taste and the social conditions of his people. At the time of his death, he was already advanced in his plan to build a “University of the SouthEast'. Obscurity was not his lot. Not at all!
May the gods be damned who commanded the infernal Caboose that carried you to the ineffable void, and demands of us to admit the possibility of non-being. How dare they ask us to confront our own mortality in this stark manner?
Dr Idika, I thank you for paying us the honour of your life! A minute spent with you afforded one much intellectual and humanitarian profit; and I am convinced this duality must constitute in the infinite value of life.
Goodbye, my friend! Yours was a bravura kind of life!
As for us the living, let us all remember this: “As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more” (Psalm 103:15-16)
All is vanity, indeed! Be kind and compassionate!
Pls join me in celebrating this brilliant man one last time!
Aloy Chife, Ph.D.
Princeton, New Jersey, USA.