A tribute to an epitome of humility, an uncommon and an exceptional father-in-law… Eze bids farewell to His lovely and great father in-law
By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
March 3rd, 2020 will forever remain indelible and sad moment in my life. This is because it was the very day when the news of the death of my father inlaw, Pa Paulinus Nkemjika Nwaorgu, hit me like a thunderbolt. For some days thereafter, sleep and appetite to eat departed from me because I had dreamt of organising a befitting birthday celebration to honour his 95th birthday on 25th November, 2020, only for me to hear that he has left me without celebrating this man who raised me out of poverty by allowing me to marry her golden daughter who has done everything a true Angel could do for us to raise a decent and comfortable family.
Instead of celebrating his birthday as he envisaged, we his immediate family resolved instead to celebrate on the epochal day of his birthday his legacies and the great impact he made in our lives individually and collectively as a great family.
Apart from having the rare privilege of marrying his first daughter, I had a special bond with him as he considers me his true son. By this, he accorded me all the respects and privileges on any issue pertaining to his family.
No serious issue facing him or his family that he did not request that my view be sought accordingly to the extent that he referred most of the suitors to his other daughters to me for confirmation.
The role this man whom I consider as my hero, mentor and teacher need not be overemphasized that I attributed almost 75 per cent of whatever I am today to him because if not for his foresight and acceptance when I had nothing, I may not be whatever it is that I am by today.
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE MAN WHO GAVE HIS FIRST DAUGHTER TO A POOR UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE TO MARRY
My father In-law was a man whose inputs in my life can’t be overemphasized. I can vividly remember my first encounter with him on the fateful day of 3rd September, 1987, by 4pm at Umuaku in Ngor Okpala in Imo State as a 300 level student, when I approached him to introduce myself and express my interest to marry his daughter, then Miss. Henrietta Chioma Ada Nwaorgu, a final year student in University of Calabar.
I always vividly recall that very day as if it was yesterday. He had just returned from Owerri, where he went for the ordination of the first Rev. Sister from Uvuru-Ntu; and not minding how tired or exhausted he was still gave me attention. In the course of my interaction with him on that fateful day, he realised that I was an ordinary poor student who had no means of completing his university education without any strong financial background, yet he consented to my request, not minding that they were many creditable and contending suitors that had already approached his daughter for marriage.
Through God’s special intervention, I was able to graduate from University of Calabar, not minding all the challenges.
How this man agreed to my proposal after inquiring and knowing that I had no means of livelihood or stable future still remains a mystery to me.
My shortcomings not withstanding, he picked much interest in me after finding out that we both had our Secondary School education from the famous Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha, now in Anambra State, where he graduated and got his Cambridge Certificate in 1952.
My good friend, Victor Devlin, with my father in law in his mind stated, “Listen, there is no way any true man is going to let children live around him in his home and not discipline and teach, fight and mold them until they know all he knew. His goal is to make them better than he is. Being their friend is a distant second to this”. My father In-law was a born Teacher and a Disciplinarian of note. Most of his students who are today captains of Industries and high ranking government officials can attest to this.
My meeting with my wife while we were students at UNICAL was divine and with the permission of this great man and her siblings, I set my mind to justify his confidence in me and I thank God that I have, for the past 28 years I got married into this great family, done my best to prove that.
My beloved father In-law, though he left this world at the ripe age of 94 plus and been the oldest man in his community, I will still miss him passionately. With his demise, I have lost a Hero, a rare gem, a special friend and a Mentor.
If there is anything like reincarnation, I will still like to marry Ada Chioma Nwaorgu again and again! With her, God has blessed us with six most wonderful children anybody can wish for.
WHO IS PA PAULINUS NKENJIKA NWAORGU?
Pa Paulinus Nkemjika Nwaorgu was born on the 25th day of November, 1925, to the family of Mr. & Mrs. Nwaorgu Ogbuokiri of Umuaku – Ntu, Ngor Okpala, of Imo State. He was the sixth child and the last in the family of six. His brothers and sisters of blessed memory include: Mr. Joseph Nwaorgu popularly known as Papa J., Ekeogbede, Mbekeogbede, Nwaobiara, and his little male brother that died at birth.
His mother’s name was Martha Mgberenwenu, a native of Umuawuka Umuowa in Ngor – Okpala, Imo State.
Pa Paulinus Nkemjika Nwaorgu attended Saint Patrick’s Central School, Ntu, where he had his Standard 1 to 4. He then proceeded to Saint Filnbars, Okpala in 1945 where he did his Standard 5to 6.
At the completion of his Standard Six, he proceeded to St. Patrick’s Umuekwune where he was employed as a probationary teacher from 1946 – 1947.
He got admission into the popular CKC Onitsha in 1948 where he got his Cambridge School Certificate in 1952.
He attended Bishop Shonahan Teachers’ Training College, Orlu, in the then Eastern Region (now in Imo State) from 1952 – 1954.
After the completion of his teachers training, he was given appointment as a Pivotal Teacher in the same Bishop Shonahan TTC Orlu. He later taught at Kirigani, Rivers State, for a month from where he was transferred to Holy Family Umuokanne as an assistant headmaster. He left Umuokanne and went to Umuagwo as a headmaster from 1958 – 1959. He also taught at Holy Trinity Obuozor Umuokpara in Aba.
His zeal and love to impact knowledge in children and all that came around him in the course of his teaching career was fiery and led to his taking up a teaching appointment with Owerri Grammar School, Imerienwe, in 1959 under the able Proprietor and Principal, Dr. Basil Nnanna Ukaegbu. His mastership of Latin Language endeared him to his students earning him the name “Agricola” amongst others! He also taught and imparted knowledge to students in Amala/Ntu Sec. School 1977 – 1985, and Eziobodo Technical Sec. School 1985 – 1986.
He officially retired in 1986; but still very active, decided to take up a teaching post with Baptist High School, Umuohie, Ngor – Okpala, where he also served as the Dean of Students. He finally retired in 2006.
He got married in 1958 to Miss Celine Adanma Nwauzoma Ekenwachukwu of Umuohie Ngor and their Union was blessed with nine children – five boys and four girls, all alive today to the Glory of God.
On the 18th of February, 1982, The Amazon of a woman, wife, mother and sister of many, Mrs. Celine Adanmma Nwaorgu, passed on to glory leaving her husband and tender children in the careful and non-failing hands of the Almighty God.
Pa Paulinus Nkemjika entered into one of his darkest moments with the sudden exit of his beloved wife. It was a period of tears, isolation and deep thought, and burden. He was lost in his thoughts but God was there to comfort, console and direct him. And God really did. To you be all the Glory, our God.
He mourned his beloved wife for seven sorrowful, agonizing, and lonely years; and later got remarried to Ms. Philomena Nwaehujie Nwake from Umuaturu Etche, Rivers State, in 1989.
On his retirement, Pa Paulinus Nkemjika Nwaorgu, a good Christian, held several posts in Umuodagu Ntu Catholic Church Parish. He lived a simple and modest life. He on several occasions rejected honorary titles until the occasion of the 2008 CMO Day when he was honoured with the title of “Special Father of the Parish” (St Paul’s Catholic Parish, Umuodagu Ntu). A peaceful and generous man, great disciplinarian, in appreciation & recognition of his outstanding role and contributions to the advent & Growth of the Catholic Church in Umuodagu Ntu; services to God & Humanity was given a Centenary Award of Excellence by the Parish on July 8, 2012.
Pa Paulinus Nkemjika Nwaorgu was very active in sports in his youth/adult years and left excellent footprints on the sands of his time. He was a track blazer in the 440, 880 and mile races during his school days. He competed in the popular and glorious “Fishers Shield” Competition and won a gold medal and gold pen for emerging the overall best.$$