Tribute to my friend and classmate, Ekwunife Okoli

Dear Ekwunife, aka Sokugo, a nickname which I gave you when you joined our class in Form 3 at Government College, Umuahia, Nigeria, and we were both in Simpson House and also Lagos boys. So, we had a lot in common.

You were such a gentle soul, and your every behaviour and carriage reflected your upbringing. When your one-time boss at Guinness Nigeria, Keith Richards, came to visit and read his book at the University of Oxford, I wasn’t hesitant to ask him if he knew Ekwunife, before he started to read the book, because I was so sure that he would have good things to say about you. And me proud to be associated with you.

Little did I know that he had a page in the book, where he wrote about you. On the Restoration of our Alma Mater, GCU, you moved the motion that the Iconic Class of 1970 (Year of Entry), should adopt the restoration of the college library as our project.

People, politics in 2023 general elections

We all raised more than enough funds and executed before most other classes. And under your leadership, as the Chairman of the Class Steering Committee, on the restoration of the college, the committee was very cohesive and effective, under your leadership.

You attended and chaired nearly all the meetings. The once or twice that you were unable to attend, you tendered apologies in advance. You always steered the meetings in the right direction and was very quick in reminding, even those of us who thought that we had Corporate experience about governance and due diligence.

You were a true leader, who led by example. Heaven has truly gained a saint. When I had the very SAD duty of announcing your transformation to the class, it was a most painful and arduous task and moment which threw the entire class platform into immediate mourning.

I have lost a friend. I have lost a brother. I can continue, endlessly, to talk about the fun memories of Sokugo, my classmate, my friend, my brother, and my fellow Simpsonite.

Remembering the Organisation of Africa Unity

May I, now conclude, by borrowing the words of William Shakespeare, in describing Ekwunife Okoli: “His life was gentle. The elements mixed so well in him, that nature might rise up and say to all the world. This was a man”.

Ekwunife, it is not goodbye. It is only goodnight. Rest in the Lord, who loves you most, until the resurrection morning.

Sonny Iroche, (The Iconic Class 1970 Simpson House) is 2022/2023, Senior Academic Visitor African Studies Centre, University of Oxford. England

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