WHEN AKAMA OGHE IN LAGOS SHOWED CLASS

Akama Oghe in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, is a unique community. Akama bears such titles as “Akama Ogwugwu Ebenebe; Akama Gbalu Nzu N’anya; Oji Ishi Madu Aghu Otokono; Igbo Bi N’ishi Agu”, etc. These are heroic titles, titles of valour, when men were men, in the days of yore.

When civilization came, Akama turned full circle. She became the first to bring the White man to Oghe and its environ, not by compulsion, but by voluntarily sending a team to Adaba in the present Uzo Uwani Local Government Area, where one Major H D Moorhouse who was charged with the task of capturing territories for the colonialists was camped. At Adaba, the team met with one Mr. Boyle, who followed them to Akama. That should be around 1905.

It was while Mr. Boyle and his team were on reconnaissance around the area that they stumbled into people using black stones, which they called ukwaka, to make fire. They were amazed, and sent for one White man named Albert Kitson, to come and claim that he “discovered coal in Enugu”! That was in 1909.

Akama was also the first to bring Christianity, in particular Catholicism, to Oghe, about 100 years ago. It was from Akama that the Catholic faith began to spread to other parts of Ezeagu Local Government Area and beyond.

With the same zeal and tenacity of purpose Akama people had in the days of yore, they entered into the new world and began to make success of it. They produced solid men and women who hold their grounds in every department of life, men and women in politics and in business, in academics and in professions, etc. Some of these men and women are now scattered all over the country and beyond. Wherever they are, they gather in group or association, called Akama Oghe Improvement Union.

Last weekend Akama Oghe Improvement Union, Lagos Branch, organized Honours’ Awards to some selected indigenes of the Community and Investiture of its patron as well as unveiled its 2020 Calendar.

Those honoured included, Member Enugu State House of Assembly and Chairman, House Committee on Works Housing and Urban Development, Hon. Chima Obieze; Special Adviser to Enugu State Governor on Diaspora Matters, Barrister Olangwa Ezekwu; business mogul, Mr. Benji Ofungwu, those who worked in the oil industry, Shell and Schlumberger, Chief Elias Igwegbu and Mr. Festus Mbazi respectively; those in academia, Professors Stanley Udedi and Nicholas Obodo, etc.

Yours truly was among the awardees. But I was not keen. I was reluctant because I did not see any reason why I should be honoured. What have I done to merit any award? What have I achieved? Please, let them leave me alone. I had in the past shunned such awards, including chieftaincy titles.

Moreover, I don’t fancy Lagos, not at an old age. I was there in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, and was never at home with the hustles and bustles of Lagos life, their “suffering and smiling”.

But if I had succeeded in dodging previous awards, it appeared that I was not going to succeed this time around. The Chairman of Akama Oghe Improvement Union, Lagos branch, Sir Henry Umeha, would not take any excuse. He insisted that I must be there in person to receive the award. He said that most of his members were anxious to see the ugly face of Dons Eze who has been disturbing their peace with his useless write ups. That was how I succumbed.

Sunday, December 8, 2019, the day of the honours’ award: the hall of EUC De Modern Hotel Ltd. at Amuwon Odofin, Lagos, venue of the event, was filled to capacity. Akama Oghe indigenes from different parts of Lagos, including those residing in parts of Ogun State, were there in their numbers, dressed in their best apparels and beaming with smiles.

Some friends of Akama Oghe resident in Lagos, were also at the event, which was chaired by Chief Sir Augustine Obiora, Ezeudo 1 of Neni, while Chief Mrs. Uzoamaka Nwankwu, was the Special Guest of Honour. The Igwe-elect of Akama Oghe, Onyeka Ofodile, was the Royal Father of the day. It was an excellent occasion.

On a personal note, I will say that I did not regret being there. I was treated like a king. Most faces I never saw before and those I saw long ago were all very friendly and inviting. We greeted, shook hands and hugged. I was privileged to be presented my award by the Igwe-elect of Akama, Onyeka Ofodile. I did not know why I should be so honoured, since neither silver nor gold do I have.

Then I began to reflect. Perhaps, there were people who appreciate the flow of my pen. It gives encouragement. I know that Chinua Achebe was never counted among the millionaires of his time, yet through his letters, his memory still lingers, even though Nigerians don’t read.

I give kudos to the organizational skills of leaders of Akama Oghe Improvement Union, Lagos. That they were able to organize the event and brought together most Akama people living in Lagos, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, is a no mean feat, an indication that they are fulfilling their historic mission.

Okwudiba Nnoli gave a historic origin of “improvement unions” in Nigeria, as the outcome of colonial cash economy, when people left their villages to seek employment in the newly created urban centres. As “strangers” in such “foreign lands”, they decided to come together as “improvement unions” for purposes of seeking the welfare of their members as well as monitor and contribute to the development of their communities back home.

There is no doubt that Akama Oghe Improvement Union, Lagos, is doing well, otherwise most of its members, men and women, wouldn’t have appeared in its 2020 Calendar and also braved the heavily congested Lagos roads to attend last Sunday’s event.

Chairman, Akama Oghe Improvement Union, Lagos, Sir Henry Umeha, said the event was put together to galvanize the people of Akama Oghe so they could work for peace and chart a common course of development in Akama Oghe, while the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Sir Augustine Obiora, Ezeudo 1 of Neni, urged the people to always “think home” and ensure that whatever money they raised would be used for the benefit of their people at home.

Formal presentation of the Union’s 2020 Calendar and cultural dances graced the occasion.

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