Just a month shy of his seventy ninth birthday, my maternal uncle; Chief Sir Benneth “Basco” Okechukwu Mbanisi, Ichie Igwulube, Agbalanze Akunwafor, Basco all the time, The Boy is good, Mayor 1 of Oraukwu, breathed his last on June 4th, 2014 at the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, Nigeria.
Born on the 23rd of July 1935, Ichie Igwulube was destined for leadership and assumed that role early in life, training his siblings, speaking for the oppressed, representing the Mbanisi family and Urualor kindred with distinction and relish. Little wonder he was elected unopposed as the Ichie representing Amaeze Village in 1988, a position he held till his demise.
A fine gentleman, a committed Christian, a distinguished Chief and Ichie, a Knight of Saint Christopher and an accomplished businessman, Ichie Igwulube was the quintessential leader and role model that valiantly championed unity in his beloved Oraukwu community. Igwulube’s influence was also well rooted in Onitsha where he lived and conducted his business at the popular Onitsha Main Market for over six decades. An extraordinary man, whose uncommon grace was conspicuously evident, Igwulube never withheld his resources and revered wise counsel and impacted many who came in contact with him. Just like his title name “Igwulube” suggests, his wealth came in droves, like locusts and in his intrinsic generosity and benevolence, he provided succour to many around him.
My faintest memories of my Uncle were images of the flambouyant man, who was always decked in full Igbo royal traditional regalia, had a smile and a hearty welcome for every little one and whose boisterous laughter filled the house. Christmas wasn’t complete without a visit to my Mum’s village, Oraukwu, and Igwulube was synonymous with Oraukwu. He was one you could always count on for anything, as he would go out of his way to ensure his presence and support in any occasion. He loved his community and his people with so much passion and carried out his responsibilities as the Ichie of Amaeze with pride and remarkable excellence.
Igwulube’s sudden exit has left a huge vacuum which would be hard to fill. As I reminisce on his colourful life, I wonder how those closest to him would step beyond his larger than life influence and move on, in his absence. However, I have an instant answer from God’s assurance that He would be a father to the fatherless. (Psalm 68:5).
As our Patriach is laid to rest on Thursday, August 28, 2014, we say farewell to him as he rests in the bosom of our Lord.
Adieu Ichie Igwulube!!!