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OPINION: The Encounter That Changed My Entire Perception Of The Igbos By Brown Kabiti.

Late Dr. Osuji, Brown Kabiti.

Dr. Osuji, for me, is not just an individual. He symbolizes a creed, a race, a tribe of industrious, peaceful and culturally rich people known as the Igbos. His contact with my family in 1989 laid the foundation of the compassion that my family has for anything Igbo till today. My write up will go beyond him in a bid to espouse the depth of our love and trust for this people.

Sometime in the eighties, the Ogunmilades' father had just been appointed a Commissioner in Ondo State and so had to vacate the accommodation provided by the university and relocate with his family to Akure, the Ondo State capital. A few weeks after they packed out of  House 34 Road 13, the Osuji family moved in. I initially hoped that these new neighbors would offer friends that could replace Idowu, Alaba and Deji Ogunmilade, my playmates who had just relocated to Akure, but alas, they did not. Their son, Chukwudi, was about 4, Ezinne, his sister, younger. What would 10 year old me do with them? Sadly, I accepted that my frequent visit to that house, House 34 Road 13, was over, perhaps, forever.

One day, in 1989, my mother sent my sisters to grind pepper for soup at the Olanrewaju's Boys Quarters which was a few houses from us, but closer to the Osujis. Unknown to us, Babade, our baby brother followed them. Not up to ten minutes after they left, they ran back screaming and wailing "Bola Ige ti f'ero lo owo Babade !" Translation "Bola Ige has used the grinding machine to grind the hand of Babade!" Babade, was just about 6 years old. Bola Ige, an older boy of about 13 years old who lived a few houses away had placed his hand on the machine belt and switched it on - crushing his fingers. Off I ran to the 'crime scene' to do whatever I could do to help or save. On getting there, I didn't find my brother. A desperate demand for an explanation from standers-by pointed out my brother inside a white Peugeot 504 belonging to our new neighbors, the Osujis. Dr. Osuji quickly realized I was related to the injured boy and screamed at me as he was driving away "I am rushing him to general!" The man was visibly sweating and trembling as he drove off. 

An emergency surgery was carried out at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital to salvage my brother's fingers. By evening, when my parents arrived the hospital, they met my brother playing as if nothing ever went wrong. The doctors briefed my parents and told them that, had the boy not been brought immediately, it would have been too late for surgery.

The following day, my parents paid the Osujis a visit to express their gratitude. On her knees, my mum raised her voice to the high heavens and profusely thanked the Lord and prayed for the Osuji family. Several times, Mrs. Osuji tried to get her up but she refused, insisting she must bless them to her satisfaction before getting up.

This was my first time of receiving kindness from an Igbo man. As the years went by, the Nzenes, the Nwachukwus, both of Road 13, manifested as God sent towards our family. Several years after, on Road 23, Dr. Ikem of orthopedic medicine of the OAUTHC, too, showed us the same colors - colors of love, peace and healing.

In my own personal sojourn in life, it has seemed like the 'Emulehu' of South Eastern Nigeria has been around me. Chioma Manu's, also of Road 13, was there for me as a strong moral support throughout university. Ikechukwu Igwenagha, of blessed memory, was one of my closest gossip and fun friends. Together with Dotun Adesulu and Folabi Kuti, SAN, we lived life to the brim in the university and the law school.

Today, most of my business associates are Igbos. I delved into the importation business without any formal or informal training or experience. In accordance with established pattern, the Igbos of Trade Fair Complex and Lagos Island  - the Jumatexes, the De Franks, the Joufs, the Amacos, the Cand C's, the Chico Marios, the Exalteds, the Chris Ogbu's, the Great Beauty Expresses etc. all rallied round me to make sure that l succeed. When one of theirs tried to 'copy' one of my brands, they all consulted with one another and stood against him, for my sake.

I have often been asked the question "why didn't you marry an Igbo woman?" I tried. With all my heart, body, spirit and soul, I desperately tried. I chose one, also from Road 13, but it simply did not work. There is an ocean of stories to write about but I will stop here so I don't distract my readers too much from the reason I am writing now. 

Chukwudi Osuji, Ezinne Osuji, please don't be embarrassed by this write up. Once I get emotional, I can't stop. Sometime last year, I bumped into Zainab Balogun. On realizing her husband's name was Nwachuku, I wrote a long epistle about our own Nwachukus of Road 13. Please pardon me.

Your father's passing hit my mum and siblings very hard. I wept when I saw it on Facebook. I pray his soul rests in peace. May your mum live long in good health and may you, their children, become mighty nations in Jesus' name. Amen.

 

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1 Comments

  1. This is touching. People like you who write and speak without sentiment can change Nigeria for the better.

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