Vanguard Newspaper 10 january 2018
38—Vanguard, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2018 Yetunde Arebi Twitter: @yetundearebi firstname.lastname@example.org 08054700825 Hi, Icouldn’t resist this article when I saw it in my box last week. Nearly all families have a similar experience to share. We all love them too, stories of people rising above their circumstances to achieve success. Typical grass to grace stories that will make even an atheist recognise that there must be a force directing the fortunes of man from somewhere. The story you are about to read was sent in by Kingsley Alumona from Ibadan. I was moved to tears just trying to capture what he and his young sister must have suffered in the hands of their uncle and his family as a result of the loss of their parents. Today, though in a position to take his revenge out on his uncle, he has opted to show him love instead. Surely, if the Lord has already granted you victory over your enemy, then it is not too much if you are magnanimous towards them. I hope you find it interesting as well as educative. Do have a wonderful weekend!! “Growing up, my village was one of the villages in Umunchi in Isiala Mbano of Imo State that still worshiped Amadioha, the god of thunder. My uncle, the older and only sibling of my father, Mazi Nwaigwe, and his wife had a shrine for it. My parents had warned me and my younger sister and only sibling, not to go close to my uncle’s shrine, not to mention eating anything from them. My father, a secondary school principal had said that my uncle and his wife were not God’s people and that their god was evil. I was 12 years old at the time and my sister was 10. I did not understand what my parents were saying because my uncle was nice to me. But not long after, when my father died and my mother was accused of killing him, I began to understand. My father had woken up about one week before his sudden death with a swollen stomach. The doctors said there was nothing they could do for him, and he died three days later. My uncle and his wife accused my mother of killing my father and demanded, according to tradition, that she swore by the alusi, their god, and drink the water used to bathe his corpse to prove her innocence. They accused my mother of killing my father because she was an osu, an outcast. My father was a diala, a true born, and was not supposed to marry my mother. So, my father’s family had always hated her. My uncle’s wife hated her the most. She always said the shrine or the marketplace was where my mother rightly belonged. So, at my father’s funeral, they handed a cup of the corpse water to my mother. Much as my sister and I cried and pleaded with her not to drink the water, she recoiled from us. “Arinze nwam nwoke, ima nghota,” my mother said in Igbo. “Arinze my son, you won’t understand.” “Agam egosi n’aka m di ocha,” she said. “I have to prove my innocence.” “Egbughim di m. Agam anuriri mmiri a. Esogbula onwe gi, Agaghim anwu,” she said. “I didn’t kill my husband. I must drink this water. Don’t worry, I won’t die.” She drank the water and died two days later. The villagers said my mother was the witch that killed my father, and that she was lucky Amadioha dignified her with a peaceful death, instead of striking her with thunder. It took just two weeks after my parents’ death for me to begin to understand what had befallen my family. I began to doubt the fact that it was Amadioha that killed them since they did not die by thunder. I was already in secondary school so I could understand what was going on. They told us it was the custom and tradition of the land, so, my uncle and his wife inherited everything my parents owned, the house, the car, the businesses, everything except his position as school principal. He demolished his thatched house and moved into my father’s threebedroom flat. His wife took over my mother’s beverage business but within six months, squandered everything. Shortly after, my uncle sold the car because he The gods are broken little things They accused my mother of killing my father because she was an osu, an outcast could not maintain it. What broke my heart was not that my uncle and his wife colonised my parents’ property which rightly belonged to us, but that they relegated us to one of the rooms in the two-room boys’ quarter. The other room was allocated to Amadioha. Alusi became our next-door neighbour. My uncle had wanted to build a shrine at the rear of the compound, but his wife disapproved. When it came to making decisions, he was the figurehead while his wife was the real head. Their three children who were all older than us attended public schools before the takeover but were enrolled in private schools and we were taken to public schools. Though, my uncle had wanted us to remain in our private schools, his wife objected to it, saying there was no money to enrol osuchildren in private schools. My sister could not endure the hardship, especially the fact that she lived next door to Amadioha and would always dream that it was about to attack her. So, I convinced them to send her to our maternal aunt in Owerri while I remained without knowing why. What I went through growing up is better imagined than experienced. I had to push wheelbarrow in the market to pay for my WAEC examinations. During vacations, I learnt how to repair cars and generators. In all of these, I noticed that my uncle was always proud of me, no matter what, even though I resented him deeply. A few weeks after my exams, I told them I was leaving for Aba to eke out a living with one of my class mates and his uncle. My aunt was against it but my uncle hugged and prayed for me, insisting I must keep in touch. He probably did not know I was leaving so I would have nothing to do with them again. I did not return until almost 12 years after when I received a call from my uncle that his wife had died. She had died with her stomach swollen, just the way my father died. But hers was strange and sudden and she looked as black as char in death. It was very obvious that my uncle was very happy to see me when I finally arrived the village, commenting on how big and robust I had become. All I could see was all the pain and hardship I had suffered living with him and his wife. As we chatted, it was obvious that he did not remember if I were osu or a diala. He was still living in my father’s house. My uncle informed me that the house had been listed for demolition by the government, along with some houses in the village, because it was built in an area earmarked for electricity projects. The time given to my uncle to evacuate had elapsed, and soon the bulldozers would arrive. I wished I had not come. My uncle had no place to live. The only land he had was close to the cemetery, where his wife, due to the mysterious nature of her death, would be buried. I remembered that many years ago, the cemetery was where the evil forest was. My uncle’s land, on which his demolished thatch house used to be, had been sold by his last son who ran away with the money to South Africa. His first son was in prison for drug and arms dealing and his only daughter had had a fierce quarrel with him over a man and had eloped with him. I was not sure if they had heard about their mother’s death as they were all absent. My uncle had briefed me on the phone last week that I was all he had as family now. And though I wanted to laugh, to tell him how much I despised him, but I couldn’t. He had also called my sister but she had abused him and hung the phone on him. My odyssey was a long one and it rolled out in front of me in a flash beginning with how I arrived Aba with the family of my classmate. How I got a job as a mechanic and with the help of a man who claimed he knew my father and but for him, he could not have passed his WAEC. He helped me through my education at the National Open University. He got me a job as a manager at Innoson Motors but today, I commute between Nigeria and Japan importing cars for my boss and electronics for myself. God has been kind to me. I had no choice but to forgive my uncle and take him back home with me. As I watched him evacuate the property in the house, majority of which belonged to my father, tears cascaded from my eyes. The house would soon be demolished, but the nostalgic memories it created stuck like glue. Suddenly, the question popped from my mouth. “Mazi Nwaigwe, do you think it was my mother that killed my father?” My uncle stopped and looked at the sky, then at the ofo, sacred staff, in his calloused hand. From the way he was now holding the ofo, you could tell he was tired of it and of life. “Nne na nna gi bu ezigbo mmadu. Odi ka ya buru na fa k’adi ndu,” My uncle moaned. “Your father and mother were good people. I wish they were still alive.” At that moment, I knew I was right about my uncle all along. He is a good man, but he was tied to his late wife’s apron string. “Mazi Nwaigwe, you’re a good man, but you allowed bad things happen around you.” My uncle halted at the door of the shrine and looked at me. He nodded his head, moaned and entered the shrine with his back. He came out, carrying his god in a red-and-white box. I asked “Mazi Nwaigwe, if people had told you that your children would desert you, that your wife would die in a mysterious way and that you would be homeless today, would you have believed them?” My uncle mumbled something in dismay. He was old and frustrated. He looked at me, then at the box in his quavering hands. He took two feeble steps and the box, with his god in it, dropped and shattered on the ground. I was not sure if it was intentional or an accident, but he looked at me and smiled. When Amadioha shattered, I had thought it would unleash lightning and thunder, but nothing happened. I suspect he had also expected something too and had been disappointed. He fell to his knees and cried. “Arinze, naani gi ka m nwere ,” he looked at me and said. “Arinze, you’re the only one I have.” I nodded and gathered him on his feet and told him I would take him home with me.
SATURDAY Vanguard, FEBRUARY 10, 2018—39 Day NLNG boss cried, resigned over Abiola election story •Eresia-Eke speaks on Dele Giwa, Tunji Dare, Ely Obasi, Jacob Akinyemi Johnson, Jones Usen, Prof Ake etc •Says Bonny will turn to mini Dubai BY FRED IWENJORA Dr Kudo Eresia-Eke, General Manager External Relations at Nigeria LNG has been described in many ways by different people. While some see him as a teacher, many see him as a poet and writer just as others see him as a journalist. However, he is no doubt a first class communicator with vast interest in social development issues. He served as Commissioner for information of Rivers state while serving at the same time as State Director NOA. (He earned from one source though) Kudo remains one of the few editors in Nigeria who resigned his appointment for issues bordering on ethics and principles. In the wake of the recent event of the very famous NLNG literary Prize seen as Africa’s biggest Prize, Kudo speaks on his intimate secrets. NLNG literary prize just held……could you make an assessment of the prize? We have been very proud of Nigerian talents in the area of writing. The NLNG Award has certainly been like sunshine for writers both within and outside of Nigeria who are Nigerians. It has provided hope and something to strive for. It has provided a sense of recognition and acknowledgment of the repertoire of the pool of talents that we have in the area of artistic and creative writing. And the result shows that the impact has been ubiquitous. For instance, we feel the impact in the area of quality publishing, in the plethora of writing, in the sophistication of editing, quality of literary judgment. We have also seen the impact in the wide spread interest in the prize from across the country. We have seen the impact clearly as a target which some writers strive to aim for. Again, we have seen the impact of the prize in the harvest of new books in our shelves and libraries. We have seen the impact in the manner in which Nigeria is envied by all of Africa and beyond for hosting Africa’s biggest prize . The impact it has made is unquantifiable. Now kindly tell me; is this prize of 100,000USD for real? It’s whooping that some people doubt if you ever give it all…. Of course it is for real. Anytime we announce the prize, it means we are sure the winner would receive the money. There are two levels; we announce and later crown the winner who receives the symbolic cheque. Everything is for real. Now we are not in Bonny where you are based; Could you take the reader on a mind tour of what you do at Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Company NLNG? Very simple…we buy gas from those who prospect and produce gas, transport it through our pipelines into mighty refrigerators called plants in Bonny. The gas is cleaned up and processed and cooled down to -600degrees. This processing is called liquefaction - that is turning the gas into liquid - reduces the size of gas which is loaded into mammoth ships about the size of four football fields to those who paid for them abroad. While abroad, the liquid is returned to gas for whatever use it wants to be made mostly for utilities. In a nutshell what we do is source gas, process it and package it and then sell to those who need it. In so doing we make money for Nigeria and the company. As you may have known Nigeria LNG is owned by Nigeria represented by the NNPC as highest shareholder and oil giants like Shell, Eni(Agip), Total . We have paid taxes, remitted dividends worth billions and excelled in Corporate Social Responsibility. You must have heard about the Bonny Bodo road and bridge project. You also must have heard how our mopping up of gas has reduced gas flaring in Niger Delta from 70% to 20%. We in the Niger Delta area are denied nights due to gas flaring. Nights are just like days. People are next door neighbours to furnaces. Thanks to NLNG which collects all these gas so it does not flare. You talk about the new Bonny Bodo road project as biggest CSR so far, how do you mean? I mean that this road project is the biggest CSR from a •MKO Abiola •Dele Giwa •Dr Kudo Eresia-Eke single company. 60bn USD devoted to one single project is unprecedented and I am particularly happy to be associated with it. You recall that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came to Bonny to flag the road project off underscoring the huge importance of the project to Nigeria. It is the climax of our CSR efforts. There have been attempts to do this all important bridge by successive governments but it has never materialized due to various reasons until now that the NLNG has waded in. There is no doubt that the people are happy about this. It is going to be the first time that a road link will connect the island and the mainland and it would change lives. Bonny is beloved by the people but the big hazard has always been the turbulent sea in which many have perished. The NLNG plan to turn Bonny into African mini Dubai in the next 25 years is still on going. Bonny must be lucky to be showered with all these….. If you say so. It is a primary habitat where we have our base and offices. You could imagine what this bridge and entire vision for Bonny will turn out to be in the next 25 years. Hmmmm. Non could tell the extent to which life would change in Bonny with the road coming. The contractors say between four to five years, the road would be completed considering the difficult terrain. History will be made with this and generations of Bonny people and indeed many Nigerians who have cause to travel to Bonny will not go through the hardships like their fathers Your job takes you around as one who resumes in one city and closes in another; how do you coordinate your department with offices scattered across Nigeria? You see, I love my job which keeps me on my toes. I work in between Bonny, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja. It is difficult to be in many places at the same time. But you never run from the challenge of duty. More so, when I am passionate about my country and believe in Nigeria. I love to communicate. I love to teach. I love to write. My job revolves around these passions of mine. It has been so exciting employing these passions of mine to teach, to write to communicate to the world that Nigeria LNG is number one company in the world that Nigeria could be as good as any other company in the world. The job also helps me to make indelible impact and imprint on the nation. It gives me opportunity to work with a little bit of wisdom to ensure there is an oasis of peace in the midst of militancy, It is indeed challenging. Kudo teaches, writes, sings, speaks, acts, dances etc…how do you describe yourself? I think I am just a renaissance man, a man to whom there is no demarcation in professions who is ready to use any vehicles provided for him to actualize goals. One who is not quarantined to the arts or sciences or to management. This is how knowledge bearers, the classical philosophers of old like Socrates, Aristotle, Plato and a host of others lived. I see myself as a humble man who is out to help the next person. You sang before, will you sing again? I have no choice but to continue to write poetry and more poetry because it is my life. If these poetry come out in songs that producers help to put out that is it. The whole idea is that wisdom should no longer be hidden inside books. We should try to return wisdom to the market place where it used to be, so when we share folk tales under the moonlight or share everyday stories amongst ourselves we are spreading it. We share poetry which helps us hand over from one generation to the other. I believe we should take our poetry from the rooftops where it is hung and bring it down to where the people’s hand can reach. Did your parents have a hand in your early all out pursuit for academic excellence? My parents did not influence my seeking academic excellence. My father even believed that people with doctorate degrees usually ended up wacko and behaved like mental cases. He was reluctant to see me move higher since he believed that my Bs.c was good enough. I was about to clock 30 when I got my doctoral degree in 1989. I had a collision with my father over my choice of course at the very beginning. I had been successful at my prelim to study chemical engineering but I stumbled upon arts and mass communications. If I were in heaven doing mathematics I was in a bigger heaven in the arts. I took my result to the Professor of Chemical Engineering, Prof Ogunye who was happy that I was successful. All my tales of wishing to change course did not yield any fruits as he insisted I started before any change was possible. He advised that I do a first year to prove myself and I did but he also screamed that with such a result, no one would let me go. Professor Ogunye went on sabbatical leave a few months after and his successor Professor Susu heard my tale and let me go. For my parents they had reasoned that a degree in Continues on pg 40 C M Y K