“For those who know him, no word is necessary; for those who do not know him, no word is sufficient” W.T. Horngren. (An American Author). For those who know Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi) no word is necessary, for those who do not know him, no word is sufficient enough to describe him. When I first heard the news of his death very early in the morning of today, Saturday 26th November 2011, I began to pray let it not be true. The news kept coming and coming. I had no choice but to place a call to a friend who had the opportunity of visiting him in the hospital when he was alive. Sadly my friend confirmed my worst fears, that Ikemba was actually dead. Few days ago (November 4th 2011) I had the privilege of wishing him happy birthday.
Ojukwu has left an indelible mark. No one can occupy his position. Ojukwu is synonymous with the Igbos as the Igbos are synonymous with him. He was to Igbos what Moses was to the Israelites in the Holy Bible. You cannot die because you live in the hearts and minds of your people (Ndiigbo). Your legacies and ideas will live forever. According to late John F. Kennedy (former American President) “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on”. Your legacies are carved in stone and you will forever remain in the minds of Ndiigbo and entire Nigerians.
As a young man, I took an exceptional interest in Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. I tried to study History at University of Nigeria Nsukka , because Ikemba studied History, however, providence took me to a different course. I read all most, all the newspaper/magazines interviews Ikemba gave before I left Nigeria . During my last visit to home, I collected his book; Because I Am Involved. I have read this book more than eight times and I am not yet tired of reading it. I read over 15 books on the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
The greatness of a man is measured by what he lived and died for. You lived your life fighting for fairness, equity, justice, and peace. You stood for Ndiigbo at the dark moments. On the concept, Biafra, here is what Ojukwu said, “The concept, Biafra, was a line drawn for a persecuted people to have a beacon of hope, a line drawn so that a fleeing people can at least hope that once they cross it, they have arrived at a goal, a line drawn so that a hated and persecuted people can at least know that once they reach there, they would have love and succor. This is why there was no declaration of that line as a republic until certain acts of war were initiated against the persecuted people.” (Because I Am Involved, P 170). On fighting the Igbo cause, Ojukwu said, “I have had my belly full of wars. I will always fight for the welfare of the Igbos, though this time around on a table of dialogue”, “In Aburi, I stated the Igbo case and I will continue to do so wherever it is necessary” (Because I Am Involved, P 170). There is no way we can forget Ikemba Nnewi, therefore you’re not dead.
Ojukwu generated more controversies more than any other Nigerian. Many often, he has been mis-quoted, mis-interpreted and mis-trusted. Yet his views, visions and solutions to Nigeria ’s problem remain one of the best, if not the best. I consider myself lucky, having lived to witness his existence/passage on earth.
Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is an enigma, a legend, a hero, a leader, a patriot, and above all, the General of the people’s army. Rest in peace our great leader.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta.
An Activist and Citizens Journalist.