JOE UGWU: TRIBUTE TO A SOULMATE
Even as Rev. Fr. Dr .Emmanuel C. Ugwu, elder brother to Joseph Emeka-Ugwu gave a comprehensive account on phone of Joe's last moments on earth, it was difficult, for a moment, to come to terms with the reality of the awful truth. Subsequently, each call brought home the reality of the shocking news.
Its true Joe suddenly took ill and words went round that he was hospitalised at Niger foundation Hospital, Enugu. We, Joe's friends took turns from Abuja, Lagos, Warri, Owerri, etcetera to make Niger foundation a preferred destination to solidarise with him. At Joe's sick bed, we plied him with words of encouragement and inspiration.
He glowed, of course as we re-lived yesteryears and traded old tantrums in between deep throated laughers. It was as if we were transported back to our growing up years when we spent such an enormous amount of time together exchanging banters /recounting memories of youthful escapades. It was a day we will all treasure even as we blamed the tyranny of time and social pressure as a result of which we were unable to see and unwind as often as we would have wished.
We were optimistic that Joe would survive the threshold of that ailment, given his confidence and positive attitude (Psychotherapy?) Lavishing of extra - ordinary - care/attention, the supplications to the Almighty God by his family, siblings and friends and administering of all medications by Doctors and Nurses.
Alas, on Monday 15th June, 2011, as Father Emma ministered to the spiritual needs of the sick, Joe quietly took the master's hand and with unfulfilled potential/ disjointed terminals and farewells left unspoken returned to the Almighty God who created him and knows his destiny.
Since Joe's demise, whirlwind of emotions, regrets and all manner of conjectures have been the lot of mutual friends. This writer's phone rang almost non-stop, most condoling callers anxious to underline how Joe epitomised candour, openness, care and concern for everyone that came in contact with him.
You may now ask what it was about Joe that had such emotional tug and wide appeal with in the constituency of his social friends, cutting across sex, age, class, tribe and tongue. In a very simple way, Joe held a special place in our affections because of who he was. He was always a tower of strength for all around him.
Only those who had cause to relate with the Pa James Ugwus family of Ohulo Obollo can fathom how death has dealt with the family and the rest of us. It pillaged the family and took away the choicest.Joe and his siblings-Jerry,Ify, Fada,Ebele,Ike,Chiedu were virtual Siamese octaplets joined at the hips ,complementing one another in a way that makes successful large families a delight to behold. We know it will not be easy for them to live with the reality that their Joe, our Joe, is gone. It is earnest prayer that heavenly peace and understanding descend upon Pa Ugwu's family and enliven the already existing togetherness, which has become the family identity, bringing in its wake a permanent family joy that will be the toast of all.
Death is cruel. The young man born of pa James and madam Appolonia Ugwu of Ohulo-obollo, Udenu LGA of Enugu State in 1953,toiled and struggled in his early youth to acquire formal education. Familiar with depreciation, he passed through St Theresa's College, Nsukka, for his WASC(1973),then UNN for his B.sc (Hons., Marketing 1983) capping it all with an MBA from ESUT. He had stints with Road Masters Industries, Onitsha, Cooperative and Commerce Bank, Enugu and Lagos and even tried his hands in business. He eventually signed on with Pharmacare Group, Lagos, a job he did until his death.
At the nick of time he married Louisa Emeka-ugwu (Nee Nwonah), a banker, with whom he had three children.
In all these saga and forays , even as he was not lucky with the issues of the heart he toiled and struggled, sacrificing his present for the future and nurturing his children (2 of whom are undergraduates at University of Ghana), in addition to attending to the usual 'third world problems' imposed by our circumstances. Many in his shoes would have understandably hung their boots in frustration after a while. Joe was not one to flinch in the face of a dour situation. Hence, he survived all the trials and tribulations. See how death has snatched him at the threshold of his life. Oh death, be not proud!
Joe, be rest assured that death cannot extinguish all that vibrant programmes of yours. For though you departed too early you impacted your siblings so much that you cannot die in their hearts.
Wherever you are, don't bother, just rest in blissful peace till the resurrection morn, Joe.
•Anekwe writes from Nsukka on behalf of mutual friends of Joe Ugwu