Ace Economist Uka Ezenwe as people’s professor
A Diary of God’s Grace: Autobiography of an Academic by Uka Iwuchukwu Ezenwe; Tamaza Publishing Company Ltd, Zaria, Nigeria; 2022; 246pp
PROF Uka Iwuchukwu Ezenwe excelled as the dean of dons in his more than 35 years of teaching in the university. He served as the President of the Nigerian Economic Society but prefers to tell his story from humble beginnings, thusly: “I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I lost my father at the tender age of six. I could not proceed to secondary school after my primary education due to lack of sponsorship and had to start teaching only one year after primary education. My situation helped me to develop an unstoppable mindset early in life, which has paid off.”
Many Nigerian personages gained from the tutelage of Prof Uka Ezenwe, one of whom, the former Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dr Suleyman A. Ndanusa, OON, wrote the Foreword: “The autobiography titled A Diary of God’s Grace, in one swoop, has brought together a story of a life’s journey in virtues and spiritual values laced in humility. Like the author said, the overall purpose of the memoir is to inspire, inform, educate and perhaps entertain and, above all, draw attention to God’s mercies in his life. “
Prof Ezenwe is a survivor who gives God all the glory for his life’s journey, as he writes in the Preface: “Aside from academic pursuits and achievements, I see the manifestation of God’s grace early in my life. I caught yaws at the tender age of twelve months and survived it; I have also survived two armed robbery attacks; one terrible car accident, a fall from ube tree, and a number of dangerous threats to my life.”
Born into the polygamous Ezenweinyinya family of Amaba kindred of Ugwuakwu village in Umuchu town, Aguata LGA, of today’s Anambra State, the young Uka was the 6th child of his mother and the 9th of the 14 children of his father. He renders his ancestry with the mastery of a historian and puts upfront the Ezenweinya Family Tree for all to see.
He started his early education at St. Thomas CMS School, Umuchu in 1945, that is, the year of the end of the Second World War. This his nearby hometown primary school did not have the full complement of primary education, so he had to in 1950 continue his education at St. Peter’s CMS School, Achina-Akpo that was nine kilometres away, a distance he had to walk on foot every morning. He placed 3rd at the completion of his primary school education in 1954 but had nobody to sponsor his education in secondary school.
Young Uka had to make do with studying in a 12-month church-sponsored teacher training programme in Ngwo in present-day Enugu State, and was posted as a teacher in 1956 to St. John’s Anglican School, Oko, the hometown of Dr. Alex Ekwueme. Uka was barely 14 years of age and bought a Raleigh bicycle in July 1956. A church evangelization plan entailed that teachers should be taken to their hometowns, and this put Uka back in Umuchu.
He gained further training at St. Cyprian’s College, Nsukka, and St. Mark’s College, Nibo-Nise, and studied privately for his GCE (A-Level) in Economics, British Constitution, and History.
He applied to study in either University of Ghana, Legon or University of Ibadan. While Ibadan denied him Legon answered his prayer. Fortuitously, a friend of Uka’s brother who had