An ode to Emeka Ojukwu
By Okey Mbonu
Dike Di Oranma! Dike Di Oranma!! Dike Di Oranmaaaaa!!!
Are you angry at us, our Warrior? Are you upset with us, our Prince?
Are you afraid to lead us to battle, our Brother?
Not so, your valiant spirit responds: “Alas, I led our people as we were massacred across the Niger
Yes, across the deserts of the North, and yes, across the dividing line of the Benue
Did I ever turn my back on you my people? Did I not lay all my earthly possessions down for my people?”
Our warrior, our Prince, our Dike eji ejemba, is silent tonight, felled not by a bullet
Nor by bombs or mortars, or the wickedness of man, for we survived all that together
Yes, together we survived the atrocities of war, sometimes with our distended stomachs
We sang our song “Umunnem Happy Survival” together, for a General is nothing without his troops!
We flew and landed our few airplanes in the pitch darkness of Uli Airstrip, starring danger in the face
We cooked and refined our own petroleum, creating our own fuel, as we drove through Biafraland
We created our own vaccines, and dealt a blow to cholera, we made our own arms, despite the blockade
Through it all you led us with bravery, back against the wall, seeking a path to mutual resolution
Though it was not our time to prevail, yet we went against the Goliaths and gave them hell!
Alas, Dim, our Warrior is gone, called home only by the Almighty; but we will forever cherish you.
Dike Di Oranma! Dike Di Oranma!! Dike Di Oranmaaaaa!!!!
Ora n’ekene gi!!! Adieu sweet Prince!!!!! We Will Never Forget You!!!!
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, The Eagle Flies Home.
Summer 2006, in Enugu, the historic capital of Eastern Nigeria, I came in the midst of some politicians to visit the legendary Ikemba, Eze Igbo Gburugburu, Dike Di Oranma, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
As our convoy pulled into the compound, I keenly observe a 1962 Mercedes Limousine on the carport, the car belonged to Ojukwu’s long deceased father Sir Louis; apparently a relic of Ojukwu’s privileged childhood. I did not know they made Mercedes Limousines in those days, but there it was, sitting stoically, signifying old wealth, class and substance of significant proportions.
The domestics open the door, and a throng of politicians and political wanna-be’s filed in, including my humble self. Soon enough, the peoples General was led into the living room, cataracts or some other eye problem had taken a toll on his vision. Nevertheless, Ojukwu made his way around the rather large living room, cautiously but steadily, negotiating his way around the myriad furniture. His body was physically trim and his gait was firm, a testament to the old soldier and the warrior in him.
Our chief host beckoned on me and my colleague, to introduce us to the General, “these are our people, from the United States,” he said, “they’re here to visit with you.” Ojukwu gazed at us, then he stuck out his hand for a handshake, his palm was unexpectedly very soft, a testament to his highly privileged birth. Then he asked our names in a humble brotherly tone, as we sat down; he opened up in flawless Igbo diction: “Kedu ife aga ewetulu gnu?” I marvel at the great man’s virtuous offer, of traditional Igbo hospitality, something I had lost grip on after 26 years in the United States.
Soon we relaxed and bantered with the General, on a myriad of Igbo and Nigerian issues, his mind as sharp as a razor, his politeness and humility even more profound, ever willing to sacrifice all he had to cater to people. I now saw the essence of the man some simply know as “Emeka Ojukwu.”
Soon we and our convoy stood up to bid him farewell, but not so fast, I had to ask him one more personal question: “Ikemba, you have a lot of titles, which one would you rather I salute you by?” I asked. Slowly and deliberately he responded, a half smile on his face: “I would rather you call me ‘Dim’“I quickly realized Dim was an abbreviated acronym for “Dike di oranma.”
As I stood before the General bidding him goodbye, I realized the essence of the man, Ojukwu was one hundred percent comfortable in his Igbo skin, he loved us, and cherished the fact that we loved him back. This sums up our General.
•Mbonu, an attorney, is a contributing editor of USAfrica and CLASSmagazine.
Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa’s writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com http://usafricaonline.com/chido.achebebest.html
USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; The Black Business Journal, CLASSmagazine, PhotoWorks.TV, AchebeBooks.com, Nigeria360, USAfricaTV and several blogs, assessed by The New York TImes as the largest and arguably most influential multimedia networks for Africans and Americans. News@USAfricaonline.com. wireless: 1-832-45-CHIDO (24436). Office: 713-270-5500.
USAfrica: As Egypt’s corrupter-in-chief Mubarak slides into history’s dustbin. By Chido Nwangwu. http://usafricaonline.com/2011/01/30/chido-nwangwu-as-egypt-corrupter-in-chief-mubarak-slides-into-historys-dustbin-egyptians-not-waiting-for-obama-and-united-nations/