Sunday, June 06, 2010
I Remember Ugo Anakwenze
Ugo Anakwenze lived an amazing life even though his untimely death came to all of his friends and colleagues, including his family members, as a shock. God's power and wisdom is beyond our reasoning and it's only the Almighty that knoweth why your life was all of a sudden cut short.
My first encounter with Ugo was at my brother's wedding, and my brother had introduced me to Ugo as his kid brother. I had been kind of elevated from my rookie status arriving the shores of America. Ugo mceed my brother's wedding reception and he did it with style and mutual interest on many grounds: Ugo and my brother had been very close following the "push factor", the post-civil war era, when academic pursuits were the key to becoming conducts. Ugo was caring and stood up in all occasions, being good at his craft -- beloving, generous and passionate.
I had discovered how brilliant Ugo was when cultural and political discourses popped up on Igbo-related forums at the eruption of Nigeria's Fourth Republic, after years of misrule by the military juntas. He was solidly engaged as part of his commitment to get things done for Nd'Igbo, home and abroad, in the public square. Ugo was a true motivator and he inspired me to keep up with my deep, insightful, writing and critical analysis of Igbo Diaspora, and he never stopped getting me involved regarding Igbo matters, grand and small. Ugo would call me and ask, nwokem, kee kwa nu, how are you doing, man!? He did care.
The days of fine Igbo politics and how to get things done at Igbo forums was very remarkable, thinking of Ugo and his contributions. The engagements: Okenwa Nwosu, Kevin Ani, M.O. Ene, the late Egbebelu Ugobelu, Ejike Okpa, Acho Orabuchi, Paul "Akeedy" Ezeji, Uju Afulezi, Ibe Asonye, Iselle Obikpani, Charles Maduka, Cornelius Akubueze, Simon Iberosi, Obinna Duruji, Francis Elekwachi, Oguchi Nkwocha, Obi Nwakanma, Nnamdi Nwuda, never-minding the handles and several others before its hijack by a gang of folks seeking relevance that turned many off.
I still remember and in one of my thought provoking articles "Igbo Political Errors and the Leadership Debates," followed by a coherent symposium with regards to the subject matter, Ugo, in response, wrote:
"Nd'Igbo, history has followed real patriotic leaders and I don't need to recite Igbo history to prove my point. As loyal and dedicated followers, Nd'Igbo must always defend the basic interest of the community and not the personal interest of any individual who calls himself/herself a leader. When individuals provide good, unselfish and true leadership, our people have always responded with full support.
Therefore, if and when Alaoma Alaigbo finds a new crop of identifiable Igbo patriots to provide true leadership, please rest assured that our people would provide full and commited followership to such patriots.
Mazi Ehirim's wonderful article should be considered a call to Igbo return to the great days of unselfish leaders with total commitment to the welfare of the Alaigbo."
And I remember the significant role Ugo played when in August 2002, Chekwas Okorie and his entourage had arrived the shores of this land to launch an independently Igbo political party -- All Progressives Grand Alliance -- in order to face the challenges of an uncertain Nigeria. I do remember when we met at Jimmy Asiegbu's office on La Cienega and Saturn Ave in a meeting on how to mobilize Nd'Igbo to rise up to the occasion, and I had gotten into a heated argument with his brother, Nwachukwu Anakwenze, regarding Mbadinuju and all the doublespeak in an inept, corrupt administration. Ugo brokered the peace and demanded decorum, one of his marks of profound leadership.
Whenever my article was out and I bump into Ugo, he would applaud my thoughts on paper, encouraging me to keep it up for Igbo national interest. And moving beyond ethnic lines, Ugo backed Igbo worthy causes in all aspects of Nigeria political landscape. He had championed dialogue to get things done in the interest of the Igbo nation. He never gave up his quest for the plight of the Igbo in today's Nigeria. He was a lion that fought tirelessly despite the battle wounds, until something was done by way of building community and organizational effectiveness -- appearing in every function to show his support.
And on that note, in what he opined in August of 2008, the convention of Hausa-Fulani umbrella, Zumunta, on Diasporan shores titled "Zumunta, Sultan, Archbishop, CISA, IWA, Ohanaeze" emphasizing on his unconditional support for a workable Nigeria. Ugo wrote:
"Going forward, I am glad CISA/IWA understand that Ndigbo can only have permanent interests and not permanent enemies. Ndigbo are so vested in Northern Nigeria that it would be a mistake to take the security of Igbo lives and properties in the North for granted. CISA, as I understand it, has also held meetings with Izu Umunna, the umbrella group representing Ndigbo in Northern Nigeria and the meeting with the Sultan is, as I understand it, only just the beginning."
In what should be coming out shortly, "The Ambrose Ehirim Files Interview," I had bumped into Ugo at one of his kinfolk's 80th birthday bash in Los Angeles, and had requested to include the celebrant, Chief Umeadi, among my list of notable interviews on Igbo powerhouse; he welcomed my gesture without obligation and had asked for me to call or send him an email in that regard. That interview, if it happens, will never take place in his presence. Ugo left us, and that's sad.
Ugo, wherever you are, we remember your works, commitments and how to effect change in Igboland.
I salute your courage and adios, my friend!
Rest In Peace!