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December 25 is for the Lord, April 04 is for Omego Abakpa

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Hon. Onyekachi C. Ugwu, Special Adviser to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Neither poetry nor prose can adequately paint the true imagery of the unique personality arrayed by Onyekachi C. Ugwu (fondly called Ahmed or Omego Abakpa). Though a highbrow Intellectual, he is often misconstrued by his admirers. From afar, everyone perceives him as a controversialist — someone who takes unfamiliar stand, different from the popular position. But a closer grasp proves otherwise. However, how few are those who get close enough to appreciate this.

I once belonged to the first group — those who misperceived his views from distance. I had to get closer to understand why someone could stir such grouse in the new media the way his presence does. What aroused my inquisitiveness wasn’t just the peculiarity of his persona, but his unyielding consistency in standing by his worldview unapologetically. Ahmed is too straight for our liking!

My Dad manifestly wore similar garb and was summarily outlawed twice by our kindred.😀

Black men can’t stand anyone who refused to flow with known conventions. Anyone who challenges established “modus vivendi” (way of life) is anathemized. The culture is simple: you either align with ‘acceptable’ customary norm, or get jettisoned to the fringes of inconsequentiality.

This is one of the factors that limit advancement of development in the third worlds.

The foremost Greek philosopher —  Pluto was right: “those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed by the masses.”

The fallacy of “That’s how it has been done…” keeps recurring among our people. A stumbling block to innovation.

I remembered a little ballad story I once shared with Onyekachi on this issue. Let me retell it here for your reading pleasure.

It goes that: “a little girl was watching her mother prepare fish for dinner. Her mother cuts off the head and tail of each fish before placing them in the baking pan.

The little girl asked her mother why she did that. “I don’t know,” she replied. “Your grandmother did it this way.” So the girl went to her grandmother and asked her the same question.

Grandma thought for a while and replied, “I don’t know. My mother did it that way.” So the little girl visited her great-grandmother and asked her why she cut off the head and tail of the fish before baking. Her great-grandmother smiled and answered: “Because the baking pan I had while your mom was growing up was too small.“

The morale of the story is: let all men “embrace change.”

Ask questions! Argue objectively. Learn, un-learn to re-learn.This is why Ahmed is an irresistible resource, for the above admonition is his watchword.

Just because something has been done for a long time, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better alternative.

While there are benefits to relying on a tried-and-true approach; creative leaders build a culture that questions the standard operating system of their business (even the business of public governance).

In our localities, many a practice were being observed without knowing why. Same culture being passed on, in transgenerational succession.

The day I and Onyekachi mused on this story, we laughed exhilaratingly. He said, “this was why some young people misunderstand me.” And he concluded by advising that we should stop relying on the lackadaisical reason, that “that’s how it’s been done from ages.”

“Try to ask question.You may be surprised at the answers you would get.”

Great-grandmother in the story did the best she could with the tools she had at the time.

By Onyekachi’s way of life and line of creative discourses, he always insist that we shouldn’t let the size of a 50-year-old baking dish that is no longer in use, restrict the way we cook food in our own time.

That’s Onyekachi C. Ugwu for you.

So I was fascinated by his ability “to take a stand” and stand by it, amidst ‘popular’ opposing forces. Like that ingenious white rapper of all time — Eminem: “He’s not afraid to take a stand!.” He don’t care whose ox is gored when he is convinced of the genuity of a given cause.

That’s a man!

And when I drew closer to him, what I did was first, to ‘erroneously’ use my literary biro to punch him below the belt, while I stepped aside to watch his reaction. That’s when I realized he doesn’t take offense at the offender but at the offence. He is an overt disciple of St. Augustine of Hippo who said: “hate sin but love sinners.”

And then the trolls continued on Facebook. He never took any of them to heart; one of the marks of mature men. His steadfastness is disarming. Erudite poet, and a Writer par excellence

So, I got entangled by his uniqueness. And then the rest became history. My first physical meeting with him became a turning point in my life’s orientation, and the way I characterize people.

Later, I would see that beneath his uncompromising straightness lies a golden heart that seeks common good, with bias to mentoring young people who would take up leadership positions in Enugu and beyond. He pioneered a new Ezimo concourse, had a stint at our Local Government administration, while being integral part of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s government, and today stands tall as one of the emblazoners of the next regime.

Today, the world celebrates his birthday in grand style. Congratulations to him on his new horizon, as a husband, father, author, publisher, innovator, philanthropist and a leader!

May his days be long in good health; and may daylight spare us!

Cheers!!!

✍️ Jude Eze.

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