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In my own thinking

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The commendation service was almost completed. It is left with one or two events to draw the cotton. From nowhere a Saxophonist emerged from back of the church pacing gracefully while churning out a classical rendition that seemingly brought down the angelic hosts. The entire place was instantly transformed and the congregants were awed. Momentarily some were caught in a reflective mood, others sobbed while yet others soaked the rendition admirably. The momentarily charged atmosphere was sombre, solemn and disarming. While it lasted I could hear people ask or comment on the futility or meaning of the journey called earth life.

The commendation service was almost completed. It is left with one or two events to draw the cotton. From nowhere a Saxophonist emerged from back of the church pacing gracefully while churning out a classical rendition that seemingly brought down the angelic hosts. The entire place was instantly transformed and the congregants were awed. Momentarily some were caught in a reflective mood, others sobbed while yet others soaked the rendition admirably. The momentarily charged atmosphere was sombre, solemn and disarming. While it lasted I could hear people ask or comment on the futility or meaning of the journey called earth life.


The setting was the commendation service in honour of late High Chief (Engr) Daniel Uche Ejiogu, the Oputa Obie 1 of Mbaitoli which took place at the St. John Fishers Catholic Church Oboro Umueze Ogwa, Mbaitoli, Imo State, at the weekend. Oputa obie passed on at 55 in a ghastly motor accident where his driver and security men survived while he was the only victim. He was in every sense of the word a big man. He was huge, pot-bellied as big men are known in our local expression, blessed with stupendous wealth, he touched lives as some big men are not used to doing, and he was open and accessible to all, a man of the people. He was love and peace personified. He gave his all to humanity and had great plans for his Ogwa Community.
While the Saxophonist performed and I was captivated, what instantly coursed through my mind were series of unending questions bothering on the vanity of life, how we come and exit, the roles we play, the interconnectedness of man. What struck me most to ask in that reflection was what you are reading as the caption of this essay: 'have you prepared for your death?' The manner of OputaObie's death is common and it showed he never prepared for such sudden exit which left hearts broken. If he had a choice he would never elect to break our heart. Three days before his death in September we had sat close in a meeting where he gleefully made presentations in defence of hosting an Ogwa Carnival and his big plans for it assuring of the massive support of our people in diaspora. That entire dream is gone now with the wind.
Someone once quipped that life is an illusion. It can never be what you expect no matter how well you think you know it. In life we prepare for so many things. We prepare for getting children, we plan our trips, we prepare for our exams, we prepare and plan our different projects, and we prepare for so many other things. But what we don't do is to prepare for our deaths. Every journey must come to an end. So is our earth life. Death is a certainty we are sure that will occur but in the manner it will happen is what many of us do not know. Surprisingly too we little bother about this and carry on as if it will never happen. In the days of yore we have had tales of our forebears preparing for their deaths and leaving messages behind before they transit. Such is rare now.
It is funny too that man acknowledges death as the inevitable end but we live as if we will never get to this end. I think it was the Plato, the great philosopher, who once mocked our lifestyle when he remarked that 'men build as if they are going to live forever and they eat as if they are going to die today'. Death is so dreadful to behold that we will one day leave this carcass into whichthe Soul, the real self, has been encased. The earth life we have been taught in religious circle is a school where we come to learn lessons and proceed but what is unknown to many of us except to the knowing ones is how much of the earth life is allotted to each man. It is in the phenomena of death that the Creator confounds man. We are born and leave at different times. Some die at child birth making you wonder why they were even conceived in the first place, some in their teens, others middle age and yet some live to a ripe old age.
I think it is the motto of the Scout movement which proclaims: 'Be prepared all the time'. But in truth are we on the issue of death?Death strikes like a thief at night at unknown hours. We are always caught napping like an unprepared goal keeper. Death is seen as the worst calamity that ever befalls man and the worst thing any man would wish his fellow man. Sadly, man even precipitates the death of another. But the knowing ones tell us that death is birth into another world just as birth is an entry into earth from another world. When we are born we rejoice and celebrate. When we pass on we mourn. Funny, isn't it?
I think the fear of death stems from the fear of the unknown and our clinging to materiality. Oputa Obie passed on leaving his palatial mansion, beautiful family and other assets making one to wonder is there any reason for all these struggles. Also abandoned were other big dreams. Man remains the greatest loser as his contributions will also be lost. But it seems like they say everything is in its rightful place and nothing occurs by chance meaning that what we lament and kill ourselves for fit into the perfect will of God. Is there any need then to cry our hearts out when a loved one departs? But another question is why would God allow such a good man who has touched immense lives to exit suddenly in such a terrible manner when he is still needed? Life is not fair we all exclaim.
What happens after death is a matter of conjecture because different religious group hold different opinions with each claiming its correctness on the issue. It is better to stave off unnecessary debate by not sharing opinions on that because this piece is concerned more with the unpreparedness of man to meet the call of death. When we die unprepared most of us with wealth that die intestate leave our family in tatters especially those with a polygamous setting. When we die unprepared most businesses we run die with us if there are no succession plans already laid out. When we die unprepared our plans for future activities also die with us.
Death remains that great enigma that has no solution. It cannot be cured or stopped when it wants to strike. It is that leveller that brings all mankind irrespective of status to that same six feet below the soil. In his own tribute, H.R.H Eze Prof. Emma Agwu, the Okpu of Alaeze noted that 'If life is something that love and care can keep. Dan Ejiogu would stay. If it is what money can buy he would live''. Oputa Obie was an amiable and jolly good fellow you would want to befriend. The deputy governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere captured it well when he said, '' He was an outstanding young man whose wit, candour, savvy, effervescence and dexterity were bewitchingly infectious''.
He had such a heart large enough to accommodate the whole world. He built bridges across the divides and had no boundaries in the dispensation of his generosity. Prince Ogbonna, the Vice Chairman, FUTO Alumni, had this to say of him, ''Any human challenge brought to your knowledge found solution, hence your title 'Oputa Obie' which was a description of who you were. In the FUTO community and Alumni in general, you gave generously back to your Alma Mater. Uncountable Futoites got employment through you. You sponsored weddings and gave scholarships to many. Age, tribe, and religion were no barriers, to your friendship with the high and low in the society''.
Chief Dan Ejiogu's55 years of existence was quite eventful. He had so much packed into it. Given the potentials he has to deliver more to mankind, it could be said that death plucked him in the morning of his life. UcheLife as he was fondly called by his friends and admirers played deep in the oil and gas industry and trained as electrical/electronics engineer. He cut his professional teeth with the Schlumberger before plying his skill variously in the Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Seagofs and Smart Drilling Coy etc.
He played key roles in the formation of FUTO Alumni Association in Rivers and Bayelsa and was a member of the board of trustees of FUTO Alumni Association. He was also a founding member of the Ogwa Unity Forum, (OUF) and contributed significantly to its growth with all his heart and resources. He was once the president of his Umueze Patriotic Union and supported to transform his community in significant ways to the envy of others. He was a strong Catholic faithful and served God with his heart and wealth. The numerous crowds that thronged to witness his interment were a good testimony that he had strong foothold in government, in politics, in the corporate world, in the traditional institution and in the wider social circles.
For me the take away from the sudden death of a vibrant young man like Engr Dan Ejiogu is a resolution to begin to live life ready to leave the earth any moment. There is no need for this selfish primitive accumulation of wealth as if we are going to live forever. Life is better lived as Dan did sharing what you have because God ministers to others through man. Dan is gone but he is still living in the hearts of those he left behind. Now have you prepared for your death?

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