By Uche Amunike
I was actively involved in the media coverage of the last elections held here in Anambra state during the Presidential and State House of Assembly polls. That exercise took me round so many towns in the state as I assembled news and monitored the proceedings. Now, I am one person who loves travelling and as always, all that movement from one polling booth to another and from one ward to the other, through the different towns we visited was for me, not just work, but also leisure. Funny, but that’s the way I actually saw it. So, as I transversed the length and breadth of Anambra state, I took note of the extra towns I added to my list of visited places. Orsumoghu was one of them. It was a town I visited and loved so much that I knew I would make a second trip to, someday. I had actually visited towns like Ukpor and Mbosi for either burial ceremonies or weddings, etc. I have also had cause to either visit friends or attend events within the Ihiala axis. My very good friend and big boss, C.Don Adinuba hails from Ihiala and I have had the privilege of visiting him in his country home too. I have been to those towns. I particularly remember visiting Azia, Mbosi and Ukpor at different times, but never Orsumoghu. Perhaps I should describe the town from the lenses of a first time visitor.
Orsumoghu is a beautiful town with beautiful people. That is my first verdict because that was the first impression I got as I entered the town and also as I encountered the people. I will try to capture what I observed and saw in this beautiful town and then, bring you a cultural, historical and developmental picture of what I learnt about them and then, finally cap it with what I know about the man through whom I was privileged to know Orsumoghu.
I monitored the election with a team of journalists from four media houses. We had covered so many areas and ended up at Orsumoghu. We were to meet with the MD of Anambra State Road Maintenance Agency and proud son of Orsumoghu, Engr. Emeka James Okoye. As we approached his town, I called his line to get proper directions to his polling unit. I reached him all right, but the line kept on breaking so I gave up and told my team that we would have to find a way to locate him wherever he was. So, we did the first thing anyone in that situation would do and beckoned on a man who was a commercial Okada rider. As soon as he approached our branded taxi warily, we assured him that we were journalists on duty and needed him to lead us to Engr. Okoye’s polling booth. He told us that there was no need to go to the polling booth as he had left the place for his house. He then tried giving us directions to the house and we told him to lead us there so we could pay him in order to save time. He happily accepted and we drove behind him. Surprisingly, when he showed us Engr. Okoye’s country home, we thanked him and gave him a fee for his services, but he declined. He said he would not accept money from us, seeing that we were guests of his kinsman who was a very good man. He said Okoye was a blessing to the Orsumoghu community as a whole and that he would take a bullet for him. Wow! I was deeply touched and my team thanked him profusely. He waved his goodbyes, wished us a nice stay and sped off.
As we basked in the euphoria of the Okada rider’s generosity and hospitality, we were almost immediately ushered into the living room of our host and there he was, surrounded by his kinsmen who excitedly talked and laughed and bantered over choice drinks and food. The atmosphere was super cozy and we were treated like princes and princesses. We intended spending a short time there after monitoring the exercise but ended up being made to spend a long period of time at the end of the day. And why wouldn’t we accept? The conversation was healthy. The drinks were super chilled. The food was exotic. The atmosphere spelt love, brotherhood, loyalty and a reciprocal kind of respect. These were what I saw flow round and round the entire place. In between the conversations and banters, we had to excuse our host to grant us interview on the election and how it fared in his constituency and he not only obliged, he also got his people to talk to us.
We ended up leaving Orsumoghu much later than we intended, but trust me, we were happy and content but I personally more than anything, felt psychologically richer. That’s how much I was positively affected by the warmth and hospitality I witnessed in the home of our host.
I remember being silent for a very long time as we journeyed back to Awka as I basked In the euphoria of that great show of love and hospitality by an amazing group of people. I think it was at that point that I made a mental note to do a piece on them, their beautiful community and particularly, my host, Engr. Okoye so as to tell the world about my experiences while there.
Now, about the town, Orsumoghu, it is the political head of the Ebonesie clan which is made up of six towns which are Orsumoghu, Azia, Isekke, Lilu, Mbosi and Obuluisiuzo. Orsumoghu is made up of nine villages which were merged into five villages for political reasons. Anything done in the town is rotated in the five zones, but headed by the number one zone known as Umuekwe. Orsumoghu used to worship so many deities, but the central one to all is called Ozara. This gave rise to the massive parcel of land belonging to them which they call Mbara Ozara. Their market is known as Afor Ozara where every village in Orsumoghu has their own portion where they sell their wares. They also have a ceremony that they call Igba Asara which is celebrated once in every twenty years. Whenever it is celebrated, all the indigenes of Orsumoghu return en masse from all corners of the world to partake in it. We also have other annual festivals like the Odi, which, by the way is a festival headed by the Umunanze, the village of our host, Engr Emeka Okoye. Orsumoghu has respect and regard for the oldest man in their town. He is called, Otachara Orsumoghu. On the event of every new yam festival, the entire villages usually gather gifts and pay homage to him in his home. He is however of the blessed memory now, having just died recently. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.
Orsumoghu is a town that practices Christianity. About 98% of the indigenes of this beautiful town are core Christians. They have two Catholic parishes, St Mary’s Catholic Church and St Theresa’s Catholic Church. They also have three Anglican churches and several other denominations in the town. As a matter of fact, the General Overseer of Revival Assembly Church, Apostle Anselm Madubuko is a proud son of Orsumoghu.
Orsumoghu as a town, has produced a lot of personalities that have paid their dues in society by contributing their quota as true indigenes of their town and true citizens of this country. The former Commissioner for Works, the Late Chief Donatus Okeke was one of them; Commodore Okeke; Rtd Assistant Comptroller General Immigration, Goddy Maduako who was also a former PG of the town; Another man behind most of the successes attained by the Orsumoghu town is Chief Dennis Ezenyimulu. This brings me to the man who actually inspired me to do this piece. He is Engr. Emeka James Okoye. And just before I write about him, I’ll give a brief insight on how come he became the Ikenga of Orsumoghu.
Political positions are shared accordingly in the Igwe’s palace in Orsumoghu. There are five major political positions in their palace and all the positions are shared between the five villages. Apart from the Igwe, the Onowu must come from Umueze which is the most senior political zone; the Owelle comes from Eziowelle which is the second most senior; Isingwu produces the Odu while Orsu Elulu Zone produces the Palace Secretary, while the youngest political zone, Ebenato produces the Ikenga. The people of Ebenato Zone therefore made the choice of Engr. Emeka James Okoye as their Ikenga. He happens to be the foremost Ikenga of Orsumoghu, which brings me to the climax of this piece.
So, who is Engr. Emeka James Okoye? He happens to be a true son of his father, Sir James Okoye (KSM) who worked at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and retired there as a Deputy Registrar. Engr. Okoye worked as a banker. He has worked and thrived in the Aviation industry. He is CEO of his own Oil Servicing firm, and is happily married with four children. His family is resident in Dublin, Ireland. He used to be a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Anambra State on Monitoring and Evaluation. Presently, he is the Managing Director of the Anambra State Road Maintenance Agency and has done so much to better the roads in the state. I talked to a lot of his kinsmen and what impressed me about their responses wasn’t just the positive comments made in his favour. I was more touched with their countenances. I saw passion. I saw admiration. I saw respect for all he stood for! They truly do love him and consider him an answered prayer as far as their community was concerned. They all unanimously described him as a very good son of Orsumoghu soil.
According to the PG of Orsumoghu, Ide Chika Dennis Muomaife (JP) KSM, Engr. Okoye was the brain behind his success as a PG. Before now Orsumoghu people went to Uli each time they had any disputes but now, Orsumoghu has a Divisional Police Station. This was made possible by Engr. Okoye. As it stands, Orsumoghu has also finished building a magistrate court which was also equipped all thanks to the efforts of Okoye. Orsumoghu used to be a divided town where it was difficult to see kinsmen sit together to eat and drink as brothers. Today, however, he has successfully fostered love in the community and they now wine and dine like one big family. In the PG’s exact words, ‘Emeka Okoye has the blood of enjoyment in him because his mother hails from Aguleri. That is why he loves to enjoy and ensures that everyone around him enjoys with him too’. I found that hilarious but then again, I saw sincerity in his words. I only needed to cast my mind back to the day of election in his home and knew for sure that the PG was certainly right. According to the PG, he was able to succeed in fostering love in the community by putting together his conservative mien and the merry mien of his maternal home. Orsumoghu has had a major facelift, thanks to the N20m ‘Choose your Project’ initiative by Gov Obiano. Orsumoghu also has a Central Market to her name, all thanks to Engr Okoye.
In all, I want to thank in a special way, all the amazing people of Orsumoghu who were glad to be of assistance by answering all my questions about their own brother and friend, the Ikenga of Orsumoghu. Charity, they say, begins at home and Chief Engr. Emeka Okoye has proven that much to his people. He stands as the strength of his town and his people think the world of him. He has not only lived up to their expectations, he has also carved out a niche for himself as far as Orsumoghu is concerned and his people are proud of him.
I am just a bystander, but I occupy a vantage position from where I view his scorecard in the Agency where he reigns supreme in the state with the eagle and critical eyes of a journalist and on the other hand, as a guest to his country home where I saw a different man altogether in the midst of his people. Believe me when I say that my view is crystal and my verdict is that he is a unique piece of God’s creation. He is an Icon, Pacesetter and Symbol of unity and development. I am super impressed with what he is to his people and to the people of Anambra state generally. I can only pray for God’s continued grace and favour to keep locating him as he works to make his town, his state and his country better.