As was the case few occasions in the past, this column is dedicated to two special characters that we lost recently. It is my special way to credit and immortalize their memories on print, for the special roles they played during their earthly sojourn. The void created by their absence is huge and it’s only Heaven that would provide adequate substitutes. It is certainly a near impossibility trying to ascertain the actual length of an iroko tree while it is standing; rather it is much easier while its trunk is lying on the soil.
Such is the peculiar characteristics of these two persons who were called unto eternity this period. Mazi Silas Okereke, a quintessential gentleman, ‘an unforgettable institution’ and a scion of the Okereke Brothers dynasty arrived on November 22, 1935 and was accorded a carnival-like departure rite on Friday November 1st, 2019. A household name in several abodes – Mbala-Isuochi, London, Enugu, Port Harcourt, etc; as a ‘prince’, he held sway with his siblings and relations in the expansive residence of the Okereke Brothers, at Ugwu, Mbala-Isuochi which was, in fact, my earliest recollection of what a cozy, GRA residence looked like. He was committed to mother earth while I was on vacation overseas, my condolences to the entire Okereke family, especially Mazi Mike Okereke, now the patriarch whose duty it is to look after every person. God’s grace is always sufficient.
The Akuma-Oziza and Okoronkwo-Oriri will dearly miss Mrs. Stella Okechukwu (nee Okoronkwo) who was committed to mother earth on December 5, 2019. Her ever beaming smiles, a trade mark which showed that love and humility are uncommon virtues, are lost for forever. To be sure that Chinyere Igwe who reached me immediately on phone with the news knew exactly what she was talking about, I quickly asked her, ‘who is Stella Okoronkwo’? Because it wasn’t long she visited and we rejoiced together at the residence of her senior brother, Engr. Emma Okoronkwo in Abuja, and celebrated her eldest son, Jude (Bobo) who was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army. It was a joyful meet and she was full of live and joked with my wife and everyone. She even made a choice of the pictures she took while decorating Jude with his new rank which am publishing here as per my promise. The weight of the loss is heavy but God knows the best way to console every person in the family, especially her very young children. To her siblings, my aunt’s children, let’s not despair but trust God. Its well! Mazi Silas Okereke