For a very long time now, not much was heard about the legendary story teller and music icon, Gentleman Mike Ejeagha of the “Akuko N’Egwu” fame. As a matter of fact, many people had completely forgotten him.
This was until last weekend when we began to read in the press, how the Enugu State Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, traced the ace folklore musician to his Abakpa Nike Enugu residence, only to find out that all was not well with the man, who for more than two decades, had dominated the airwaves with his story telling music.
According to reports, Governor Ugwuanyi who was really not happy with the pitiable condition he found Mike Ejeagha, instantly decided to change the man’s life for the better.
Not only that the Governor had undertaken to settle the hospital bills of some members of Ejeagha’s family who had been hospitalized, he equally had placed the man on monthly emolument, and promised to rehabilitate the road leading to his Enugu residence.
This exceptional show of magnanimity on the part of Governor Ugwuanyi to the ace musician, should not only be commended by well meaning citizens of the country, but should equally be emulated.
Apart from the fact that the Governor’s action stands as a sign post for appreciating works of excellence, which Mike Ejeagha’s folklore music epitomised, it also stands as a testimony that in this day and age, some Nigerians could still remember the past. This is commendable.
In any case, Mike Ejeagha may not be the only Nigerian hero who has been abandoned, or left to die in squalor and in penury by their own countrymen. There are several others like him. We refer to them as our “Forgotten Heroes”. But thanks to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, he has remembered Mike Ejeagha, traced him to his house, and brought relief to him. We give God all the glory.
Here in Nigeria, people are endowed with different talents, either as an athlete, a footballer, actor or actress, musician, journalist, lawyer, engineer, scientist, etc., or are employed as a civil servant, teacher, etc. At the prime of their lives, they would give in their best, and the country enjoyed their services.
In the evening of their lives, or old age, however, the people are no longer able to do much. They are now seen as no longer “useful” to the country or to society, and thus considered to be liabilities. They are therefore abandoned or neglected and allowed to die in poverty. Nobody remembers the past, their past contributions to society. Too bad.
That’s has been our bane, our predicament, why many of our pensioners and others who rendered selfless services to the nation are neglected and left to die in their numbers, unsung. They are thus seen as no longer useful to the state and to themselves.
Nigerians are not good at remembering the past, at showing appreciation for excellent services rendered in the past. They are not good at keeping records of what happened in the past. They lack institutional memory, without which one cannot progressively build the future.
Many Nigerians are only interested in the present, in the here and now; two or three months thereafter, everything is forgotten. That’s why the country is finding it difficult to grow, or to develop.
One local adage has it that he who fails to remember where the rain started beating him, will surely not remember where he dried himself up from the rain. That’s ingratitude.