And who would ever have known, such lovely things would come from such lowly places? The little town of Nsukka. So small, known only for that University there, once so great. So much wrong already, much water past the bridge. Her glory days seeming so long past, when Zik of Africa, Chinua Achebe and so many others with that place associated… But more still would come.
I remember when first we met. Oh, so hated him I did. Such arrogance it seemed. Who the hell did this guy think he was? ‘Forming’ this fake foreign accent. I could bet my shoes he hadn’t crossed the shores. But now, here, him, this annoying sense of dignity. Head held up high, so talented in multiple ways. And oh, worse of all, beloved by so many.. Nah, never me.
Till that day finally close range we met. Purely just then for business, me with a close friend. Suddenly, no longer the scum I imagined. He, sitting across the table, such warmth and charm. With brilliance, analyzing every issue, so different an Image.. A man, so thoroughly driven, this passion for an uncaring Nation. Doing so much simultaneously: A coordinator for an anti-AIDS project charity; A key founding member of UNN’s Lion FM Radio Station; A core Pillar of the official Campus Music Group; The First Choice Presenter for so many Public Events… He was doing too Much!! But this merely was the beginning…
A passion for this Community largely sleepy, so quietly earnestly, many he had begun to empower, even the very uneducated. So patient, so tolerant almost to a fault, his friendship cut across the ages and classes. From little Primary School Children, to the very Learned and Aged. Professors, Parents, Bankers, Pastors, Vice-Chancellors, everyone loved him. The girls, so fondly they called him ‘Sugar Boy’. So dazzled by his warmth and charm, what wouldn’t most females give for a little bit of his affection or attention? But yet, almost always without limit, he ever willing to help any who needed.
And far Beyond even the Community, his Passion would stretch. Ever seeking for good, so vividly he dreamt loftily of Africa. Of a Continent where everyone would be free, where Knowledge would be real, where Prosperity would be abundant.. Beginning from that community, to the continent he set forth… to conquer. And Soon, his Fame would stretch beyond borders.
The Radio Station (Lion FM) he helped found, really truly then was lowly. Primarily then limited to the UNN Community, languishing in the dense shadow of then Almighty Enugu Cosmo FM (now tragically dead). He knew so much was needed. Knowing the wise must seek the precious, far and wide, From Nsukka he journeyed, so many more times than once, to countries all over Africa. To Europe and beyond. Not for fun, but for work. To be trained. Seminars, Workshops, Interactive Sessions. Rubbing Minds, learning Skills, from Music & Radio’s best cream of Mankind. Meteorically, skills growing, reach extending, his fame soared. Till when it came it be that he would become Radio’s foremost personality, South East of the Nigerian Nation. And though not finally winning, twice, back-to-back, nominated he was, for The Future Awards On-Air Personality of the Year (Radio).
Many months ago, diligently I questioned, we seated then over a meal, in UNN’s CEC:
“Why you still here? Don’t you think it’s time to move on to bigger things? You’ve virtually accomplished all there is to be done in and for this Community.”
Tenderly he smiled, even acknowledging how so many others had similarly enquired. But then he spoke:
“II still feel like there’s still so much to do. I owe so much to this place. I feel like I haven’t really given back enough. I feel like I still need to empower some more people, before finally leaving.”
Last 4 Months, he powered a major Empowerment programme in the varsity, through his Organization, The Young African Leaders Network (YAL Network), featuring scores of Nigerian Personalities, and eminent personalities from near and far beyond. Seating over 2000 audience, such a big success, yet he so strangely somewhat very disappointed. “I had hoped for something bigger”, he sighed.. Already immediately kicking off planning, for next year’s edition. His quiet passion, never fading. And sometime not long ago, he said to me:
“Why do I care so much about a nation that doesn’t even give a damn about me?”
“One word”, I said to him. Only one word can explain this: Purpose. Destiny. “It is your Destiny.”
His drive, unrelenting, passion so so limitless. Still ever boundless in energy, perpetually doing too much. Did I mention he’s a movie script-writer too, including having acted in a few Nollywood movies? He even was the major brain and lead actor for a major UNN official movie project titled “Spokesman for the Oracle”, last year premiered. So wonderful it was, said everyone. And oh, coming to music, such skill and amazing talent. His Nation-building song “Good Morning Nigeria”, released sometime 2011, still a major soundtrack of my life. He helping so many upcoming and aspiring musicians sharpen their act, myself inclusive… Oh, how so many have drawn courage and inspiration from him…
I know his time here almost is over. Such a really Big world out there for him. Who can stop a moving train? Having paid his dues here, now Africa awaits. And though many others most definitely will come and go… not ever will the little (soon-to-be-big) town of Nsukka forget that Gentleman so wonderful, so sweet, so Amazing and charming… The one they called SUGAR.
Written by Arinzechukwu Enibe