OJUKWU'S GREATEST LEGACY
Towards the end of November 2011, a mighty wind blew from the east across the surface of the earth. This wind, which wasn't the first of its kind, pulled down a very mighty and towering Iroko tree, of staggering dominance, fighting a lasting fight between life and death at a hospital in London.
The Iroko struggled like a General, endured and persevered like an octopus. But he could not resist the inevitable invitation to spend his eternal vacation at the Elysian fields. Thus, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, that mighty Iroko, rarest of its kind, finally heeded the call and bent down, breathing forth his last breathe as a mortal.
Many have reacted to the death of Ikemba of Nnewi. Gallons of ink have started spilling from all over the globe, bearing testimony to a man who knew what he stood for and stood for what he knew; a man who exhibited a superlative degree of passion for his people; a man who would rather die than watch his people treated unjustly.
Ojukwu's death has struck another chord not only in the collective socio-political consciousness of the Igbo but also to the Nigerian and African world. My happiness today is that those who branded him a 'rebel' have started to revisit their proposition. Even his fiercest critics could not but admire the matchless qualities of the stuff that he was made of.
Since the official announcement of the death of Eze Igbo gburugburu, I have engaged myself in a series of thought-provoking reflections: who will veritably fill the larger-than-life shoes of Dikedioranma? A lot of names have flashed through my curious mind: Alex Ekwueme, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, Orji Uzor Kalu, Ralph Uwazuruike, Chinua Achebe, Emeka Anyaoku, Senator Chukwumerije among others. I think I do not have the right standing to make even an opinion on that, thus I will leave that particular puzzle not only to my fellow Igbo kinsmen and women, but also to my fellow Nigerian brothers and sisters to judge.
Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu is a perfect and classic representation of those beautifully rich qualities the Igbo man is known for: intelligence, resilience, hardwork, doggedness, creativity, enterprising spirit, leadership, patriotism, unbiased love for one's people, determination. Anybody who met Ojukwu met a true embodiment of the Igbo people.
Ndigbo have produced great and fine minds; fine minds who have majestically dotted the intellectual, political, entertainment, cultural and religious landscape of Igbo consciousness: Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Emeka Anyaoku, Okonjo-Iweala, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Doral Akunyili, Genevieve Nnaji (who Oprah Winfrey described as the 'African Julia Roberts'), Pete Edochie, Cardinal Arinze, Blessed Micheal Iwene Tansi (the first Nigerian officially recognized saint in the Catholic Church), Kanu Nwankwo (the highest decorated Nigerian footballer), Orji Uzor Kalu, Alvan Ikoku, Dike Tiger, M.I. Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, Osita Denis Osadebe (Osankwa King of Highlife), Oliver de Coque, Emeka Emeagwali (unsung hero of the internet, whom Bush described as the 'Bill Gates of Africa'), among many others of distinguished repute. But of all these eminent first-class personalities, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu is, apart from Nnamdi Azikiwe, the greatest Igbo man known to have ever lived.
Ikemba, Dikedioranma, Onunaekwurumu Igbo, Eze Igbo gburugburu, you came, you saw, you fought, you lived. Now you have passed on. Ndigbo appreciates you; your family and beloved friends will dearly miss you; your fiercest critics admire you. Above all, I love you even to death. Laa n'udo. Go in peace. Sleep well in the Lord's bossom. May the soul of Dim Odumegwu Chukwuemeka Ojukwu and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.