KINDLY permit my veer to a somewhat deeply personal world, more so, one soaked in sober and somber lines. My apologies in advance if I appear to quibble this week or just drench this page with tears.
I have a troubling loss that, I reason, can only be done away with if I let it out and let it go. Sure, it is my cross but I want to exhaust it the best way I could – by writing it off my heart. So bear with me, if you sense my tears because I believe that ‘tears are simply the raindrops from the storms inside of us’ or like my friend, Chido Obidiegwu advised me at the peak of the development: “cry it out if the tears come. It does not make you a lesser man. Don’t bottle it up. That can be more dangerous.”
In heed, I do the much I can herein, hoping it quells the tremor within, even if a bit. Leigh Hunt states that letting out also douses the quake no matter how little as “tears hinder sorrow from becoming despair.”
Last Christmas was hell for us. On Boxing Day, we got a divine gift in the death of my beloved, younger and only brother, Prince Ifeanyichukwu Olisaemeka Solomon Nnabuife (Akuabata). His death, that Sunday afternoon turned the bright sun into a big orb of beclouding darkness.
Thereafter, until we concluded his funeral rites, penultimate Thursday, February 24, in my hometown, Ubuluisiuzo, Ihiala Local Government Area (LGA), Anambra State, I experienced the real meaning of the words: ‘confusion,’ ‘distablisation’, ‘quagmire’ and ‘distress’.
I do not wish even my worst enemy, my experience, worth with the security menace that currently reigns in Ihiala and environ. But I thank God that I can now hold my pen and piece my thoughts together.
At the foot of the huge mud heap that since his interment, became his tomb, I had an oration entitled, ‘Akuabata Goodbye to the Saints’, which I could not read. May I share an excerpt:
My dear beloved and only brother,
Now I know the essence of one of our parents’ favourite song during the daily night prayers when we were youngsters. To date, I don’t know the title or author of the hymn but I recall every line of its lyrics and how Daddy sang it with gusto with eyes closed:
A ma m onye m so
Onye m so
Onye m so na-azu
A ma m onye m so
O zugoro m o
Jisos ka m so (x2)
Daddy and Mummy and we sang this loudly and proudly every night in our characteristically long daily valedictory sessions before bedtime but I did not really appreciate the depth of the message until now.
Now that you have left us, so suddenly, like Mummy and Daddy respectively, in 1997 and 1998, we now feel the pangs of loneliness in their extreme chill.
Ours, the family of Mathias Ikechukwu Timothy (M.I.T.) Nnabuife and Patricia Stella Nwodu (P.S.N.) Nnabuife (nee Onwuka), once a full home of a very happy five, father, mother and three children, now a lone two left to wallow in harsh cold of a world where confidants and friends-like-siblings are rare.
Your sister and I, like these four minors you left fatherless and the wife you left without husband now know why our parents restated their commitments to following Our Lord Jesus (and Him alone) every night until their deaths.
We have found that it is Him alone to follow and be sure, not man because like you, every human has his own, defined mission.
Thank you for teaching us, although, bitterly to cling to Our Lord Jesus,and find our succour in Him. We believe you have gone to be with Him, permanently like MIT and PSN.
Until we get there, good bye, very dear brother.
We will miss your immensely like many will.
We know you truly lived for people and for society. You were a man of style. You had a rare gift of the garb and a peculiar knack for making and keeping friends.
Most of all, my dear kid brother, you were brave, daring and a very good lead figure everywhere you were. In you, we lost a rare gem; odogwu e ji eje mba; Egbe e ji eje ogu; the Double Man; the Marshal; Akuabata nke anyi — all these you were, and you had as public-recognised appellations.
In private, you were many people’s counselor, folks’ reppature and several groups’ orator.
All of them now miss you, more so, for your rare quality of being a jolly-good man. Currently, they all give testimonies of the huge vacuum that this your exit create.
Go well, my brother and fare thee well, wherever this new mission sets your soul. We know it must be heaven.
That is why, despite the pints of tear that have ladden our eyes and drowning our hearts, we will still keep singing one of MIT’s favorite night prayer song, ‘Otito Dili Chukwu’.
We will set our faces up and chant the lyrics the way he did like battle ground soldiers, clinging unto the message of their anthem to recharge, regain faith and forge ahead irrespective of any challenge that ordinarily should cause fear.
Iheanyighichukwu, the original name our grand mother, Mama Nnukwu, Mmaa Nwaghawusim Iheanyichukwu Mbanugo of Eziani, Ihiala, gave you, we will neither succumb to fear nor the pain your death cause. I know you will encourage us not to do that. We will leave your tomb, singing like our Daddy:
_ Otito dili Chukwu
Nke ji aka ya diri onwe ya
Onye na-enweghi mbido
Nke O na-enwe isi njedebe
Buluazi onye okike
Dinwelu nke Ife nine (x2)
Goodbye Akuabata. Return to your home where good folks like you, hive with the saints and angels.
Born July 23, 1970, Prince Ifeanyi was my younger brother and the second son of our late parents, Mr Mathias Ikechukwu Timothy (MIT) Nnabuife and the late Mrs Patricia Stella Nwayiriodu Nnabuife (Nee Onwuka) of the royal Nnabuife family of Umunwugo kindred, Ubahiogu, Ubuluisiuzo.
He was an accounting specialist, a stocks trader, a teacher and a grassroots politician.
Sir Ifeanyi, a knight of the order of St Mulumba in the Roman Catholic Church, had his education in several basic schools in Enugu, Anambra and Imo States.
He studied Accounting (Education) at Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra State. Thereafter, he embarked on private business practice. At several occasions he engaged in motor parts merchandising, stock brokerage and corporate business management. While in business, he was also very active in grassroots leadership and politics. He served at sometimes as a Special Assistant to the Chairman of Ihiala Local Government Area Council. He was also an aide during the Government of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju as the Governor of Anambra State (1999 – 2003).
Until his death on Sunday, December 26, 2021, the Chairman of Umunnabuife Family Association and a frontline youths’ leader in Ubuluisiuzo.
Reputed for his oratory, wisdom and bravery, the prince and gem was given many monikers by several groups where he held sway.
Among his social names were ‘Akuabata’, ‘Egbe’, ‘Double Man’, ‘Marshal’ and others. The appellations capture, in their various ways, his unique tendency to boldly step into the frontline to stand for people whenever situation calls for the one who will ‘bell the cat’,
Ifeanyi never backed out from knotty matters.
In 2017, he migrated to Cambodia, where at various occasions he worked as an English Language instructor for expatriates and studied integrated mechanised farming among others.
He took ill in 2019, when the situation became severe, he returned to Nigeria in December 2020. The ailment continued until he died on Boxing Day of 2021.
A jolly-good-fellow with a naturally warm mien, he will forever be remembered as a man who prized good friendship, loyalty to associates and his society and a man with a unique gift of the garb.
As I left his grave after all funeral rites, a voice from within me told me: ‘Chuka, you had a brother but there he lives now.’
Indeed, Thomas Paine was right in his words: “Tears may soothe the wounds they cannot heal.” That soothe, at least is the essence of this piece. Join me in praying for Akuabata.