On a dull morning in July 2010, I emerged from the general office of the Mass Communication Department, (University of Nigeria) Nsukka and walked towards the venue selected as the PG class to see Opene Nkiru Favour who was the assistant course representative of the 2009/2010 Post Graduate class. I had spoken to her earlier on phone. As a new person in the department, I wanted to meet and become acquainted with my prospective course mates. When I eventually met her, a young man accompanied her.Nkiru introduced us; I was impressed by his geniality and his charm. His face looked familiar, I pointed that out to him, and he admitted that he was thinking along the same line. We started to trace where we could have met before.
As our discussion progressed, we discovered that it was during our service to the nation (NYSC). We both served in the same state and same batch. The point of contact was therefore during the three weeks orientation camp. When I told him that I was Ngwa and from Aba in Abia State (that was at the height of the kidnapping siege by bandits in the state).He threw banters at me that he hoped I was not there to kidnap him. That was the kind of person he was. Always armed with a joke or prank up his sleeve. And it sometimes got him into trouble when some people took exception to some of his jokes.
His name was Ogbonna David Eze Ignatius a.k.a Dj Excel. Dj was a tall handsome young man. He was fair, bearded, and well built. He had a frame that would make any girl swoon. He was what every young girl would call her dream man. Dj had charisma. He always held his friends captivated by his precise diction, cadence and vocabulary. Dj as he was popularly known was someone you would stay with and forget the passage of time because there was never a dull moment with him. I never saw him quarrel with anybody for the three academic sessions we spent on the programme. That is not to say that he was without blemish. No human being is perfect. As a mortal, he also had his flaws but his good sides definitely eclipsed any bad side of him. Dj was an intelligent fellow.
While others were busy making notes during lecture hours. Dj would not write. However, ask him any question, he would answer correctly with amazing clarity. He would argue out his own opinions on academic issues convincingly. This earned him the SOBRIQUET of media terrorist by one of our lecturers. He also had an aphorism, which was “ I LOVE ACADEMICS”. It was no surprise that he made second-class upper and received awards in his degree programme in the same department. His brilliance also endeared him to his lecturers whom he ran errands for.
He was from Admabia Umakashi in Nsukka local government of Enugu State. He was the sixth child in a family of ten.
After his youth service in 2009 and due to the dearth of jobs in a country so rich but being ruined by incompetent leaders who mismanage the resources of the people,he returned to his alma mater for his postgraduate studies. While there he kept applying and sending CVs to several institutions but did not get favoured until he died due to the unfortunate situation in the country where jobs are no longer gotten on merit. He was a peacemaker. I remember vividly a little dispute between me and a student from the north that he helped us resolve amicably.That was the sort of person he was. He had a charismatic personality that made people listen to him.
The ladies loved him and of course he was simply a likeable fellow. He had a small private bike that he used. He called it his HUMMER. The hummer was used in lifting any of his course mates who happened to be going through his route at the end of the day in school. And trust the
ladies, some of them made maximum use of this generosity. Ladies always like FREEBIES. They only had to ask him and he would whisk them to their destination.
On the 3rd week of July this year, I went to Nsukka for an assignment and we met unexpectedly at the entrance to the department. It was a good reunion. The usual jokes and banters were
exchanged. We chatted about our immediate concerns, which were the delay in the processing of our results, the unemployment situation in the country and his efforts to offset his remaining fees. In the process, we went into the office of a senior lecturer that I wanted to see. There he also enlivened the atmosphere and had us laughing while he went to deliver a purchase he made for another senior lecturer who sent him on an errand. I concluded what I came for and left the school two days later.
I was in a sober mood some days later (on the evening of the 30th), when my phone rang and it was Endwell on the line. We had not spoken for quite a while and I was expecting her to upbraid me for the shortfall in communication. Without further ado, she asked .Have you heard? I asked, heard what? I was actually expecting it to do with some information from the department. But alas, it was something that would spoil my evening. She threw the bombshell. Dj is dead. I was shocked! I could only lament repeatedly, is it the same Dj I was with few days ago?
I tried Dj’s line but it was not going through. I still though it was a cruel joke but several days later, the reality that he was no more dawned on me. As a result of apparent paucity of help from his immediate environment and no offer coming from the places he applied to for employment. Dj obtained a bike to carry passengers in Nsukka. Dj had to settle for the okada business TEMPORARILY to keep body and soul together and probably pay up his fees. We cannot question the choice he made because I am sure he must have exhausted other options available to him.
I am also sure that he may have looked for funds to start a business or approached people for certain favours and met unfavourable responses. This is probably true because the bike was obtained through a hire purchase system which he eventually finished paying for before his death (this much he confided to another good friend of mine). He was very close to that friend. He simply wanted to survive and he was not ashamed to hustle.
According to the information available to me, Dj had an accident on the 29th of July. A driver who was trying to avoid a dog that dashed suddenly in the road between Odenigbo roundabout and St. Paul’s Anglican Church slammed into Dj who was on his bike that fateful Sunday evening. The dog excaped unhurt while Dj became the victim. He was rushed to the Bishop Shanaham Hospital in Nsukka where they did their best to stabilize his health and transferred him to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu where he gave up the next day.
One of my friends will always say this “something must definitely kill a man”. That something led to Dj’s untimely departure from Earth.
Life is indeed a big puzzle and we sometimes wonder why certain things happen. And as Ian Mackenzie would say “whatever you do, life is a mystery and is going to remain a mystery”. Another philosopher Cheechls Chong aligns with the above quote with the following “I believe that the world is full of things we cannot perceive and may never understand or even acknowledge them”. However, out of dust, we came and back to dust we shall go back at the appointed time. It is therefore certain that we will all die one day no matter how much we dread the idea of it actually occurring. At a certain point in our stay on earth, death is a welcome
and inevitable end. Someday in the future, someone would definitely write our epitaph. The Holy Bible in Ecclesiastes 3.2 summarizes it all.
Be it as it may, Dj never had an opportunity to reap from the fruits of his labour. Neither did his family. Nevertheless, His death at 33 years of age was a sad and painful end of a promising young man. He was buried on the 10th of August but I know his fond memories will linger
in the minds of friends,relatives and family until the end of time. We pray that god grants him repose in his bosom. May his gentle soul rest in peace.