Mabnese 1st Professor Launches Edu. Foundation, Unveils Autobio

By Izunna Okafor

It was indeed a tripartite celebration over the weekend at Ebenator Community in the Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, as the community's first professor, Prof. Sam Uzochukwu unveiled his autobiography, launched a Tertiary Education Foundation and celebrated his 50th year marriage anniversary with his lovely wife, Loolo Grace Uzochukwu.

The event and its convivial reception which took place at the Prof. Sam Uzochukwu Residence attracted great sons and daughters of the community, as well as other dignitaries from both within and outside the state who came to felicitate with the intellectual and his family.

In his homily during a special mass for the event, which took place at St. Matthew's Catholic Church, Ebenator; the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev. Hillary Okeke described marriage as a union ordained by God Himself, and noted that it takes God's presence in a family, tolerance and trust, for any marriage to be peaceful, successful, and also stand the test of time; maintaining that nonavailability of the above elements in marriage is the primary reason many marriages crash in a space of time.

Appreciating God for the lives of the celebrants and their children, he further urged them to continue upholding the virtues of trust and tolerance for one another and allow God's presence to always dominate in their family; even as he also called on other families to embrace such rare gestures that will enable their marriage stand the test of the.

While congratulating Prof. Uzochukwu on his giant academic exploits and historic records in the field of knowledge, Bishop Okeke also extolled him panegyrically for deeming it needful and worthy to give back to the society, by launching a Tertiary Education Foundation to assist the less privileged further their studies up to the tertiary echelon, even as he called on other affluent individuals in the society to emulate such gesture, by using their resources to serve both God and humanity.

Speaking, the man of the event, Prof. Sam Uzochukwu who is also the first Professor in the entire Mbanese —which is a general name for a conglomerate of five out of ten communities in the Nnewi South (Ebenator, Ezinifite, Akwaihedi, Osumenyi and Utuh) — said his life story has been a testimony all through, looking backward from where and how he started, while also appreciating God for his life, his marriage and family.

According to him, the two factors that motivated the launching of his new foundation "Prof. Sam Uzochukwu Tertiary Education Foundation" are: (1) desire to give back to the society, being himself, a beneficiary of some financial assistance and scholarship from his primary school level to his postgraduate level, (2) desire to restore his community, Ebenator, to her previous glorious position in education, being the first town to produce a first trained teacher, first university graduate, first medical doctor, and first professor (himself), etc in the entire area.

He said, "This is no longer the case, as Ebenator has been clearly overtaken by her neighbours in matters of education. One of the factors responsible for this is her inability to provide for the education needs of her youths.

"This foundation is therefore a modest attempt to restore the town to the path of her previous glory in education."

Confessing that one person or government alone cannot do it when it comes to matters of education, the University don called for the collaborative effort of other philanthropic individuals, clubs, age grade and other associationa to key into the laudable objective, to assist these brilliant-but-financially-handicapped youths access quality education.

Addressing newsmen, the first son of the celebrants, Mr. Emeka Uzochukwu who described his father as a hero and his mother, as a shero, said the event was a thing of joy, as each aspect of the it has its own significance and lessons that accompanied it.

Enumerating the unique attributes he learnt from his parents' union over the years; he proudly pledged to toe their path, while also registering his firm optimism that the newly launched education foundation will tarry and create the expected impacts and results in the society. He commended his father for such a benevolent gesture of giving back to the society, and called on others to replicate such in their own little or bigger ways, through supporting and donating for the financially disadvantaged but brilliant youths.

Prior to the event day, an inter-zonal football match was played in honour of the legend, Prof. Uzochukwu, in which Uhuala zone emerged the champion after muting Amakom zone with three unretaliated goals in the final round.

According to the newly unveiled autobiography, entitled 'A Single Palmnut' Prof. Samuel Udezuligbo Uzochukwu was born to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred and Elizabeth Uzochukwu in 1940. After his B.A. Degree in English Language from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (1966), he switched to Igbo Studies, being aware of the need to explore this hitherto neglected area. Uzochukwu received his PhD from the University of Lagos in 1981 for a thesis on Igbo oral literature. He stayed at the University of Lagos, rising to become a Professor and Head of the Department of African and Asian Studies.

In 1992, he was appointed a member of the Governing Council of then Anambra State College of Education by former Gov. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; while in 2010, he was also appointed as a member of Subakwa Igbo Committee by H.E. Peter Obi.