Sound-Bites On Sen. Annie Okonkwo As Final Exit Bell Tolls


L-R: Chief Tony Okonkwo and Prince Donatus Okonkwo.

Dr Nkem Okonkwo.

L-R: Scion of Sen. Annie Okonkwo, Hon. Uche Harris Okonkwo,l with wife Lady Nkiru Okonkwo and Annie’s first grandson Chukwudubem.

By Collins Steve Ugwu

The charisma of Sen. Annie Okonkwo as a man who wrote his autobiography in the hearts of people than a book, gets more pronounced as the count-down to his final burial draws closer in Ojoto, Anambra State on August 30.

In the most stirring epiphany of tributes rendered for him in Lagos, hearts melted, tears flowed, cheers were elusive, and emotions struggled for relief at his Night of Tributes so spectacularly managed.

The rhythm of distress and sober suspense that hovered, gave way to a soul-lifting hall of testimonies for a man who wanted us to celebrate and praise God for him, than agonise over a finished schedule.

Breaking the icy grief that soaked the community of friends and well wishers since the shock of his transition, was no other than his brother, Chief Tony Okonkwo who delivered his late brother’s piercing message to all with candid bluntness and difficult soberiety. There was no other person who could have done it with such steam of believability. The clear verdict was apparent. Agu enacted his translation with a mystique of the true lion he was, a panorama of courage, unbelievable vitality of spirit, pure aromatic love for all, and certainty of submission to God’s primacy and will.

Said Tony in brave summary: “My senior brother, Sen. Annie Okonkwo, told me that God loved him, and he demanded me to declare it to all categorically. He said to me, ‘It is so obvious God loves me. He has given me blessings, courage and strength all through my life. All these close to six years I battled with cancer without hospitalisation, was God’s love. The extraordinary grace belongs to Him and the Majesty of my wife. My decision to keep it to self, was to reciprocate same love to my friends naturally. I never wished to ruin their happiness and generate apprehensions from nerve-breaking sympathies, than praise for God. I had the energy to express and feel joy. I enjoyed my friends and family and they were at peace. I traveled extensively, shared great moments the best possible. Most importantly, my gratitude to God grew deeper in spirits and awareness. Remember, I count it a rare privilege to have you as my brother, to have the unparalleled excellence of Chinyere as my wife, the special gifts of my children, wonderful grandchildren, my dearest siblings, indeed everyone. When the time is right, please tell them to celebrate God in my life, because the hour I do not know, could be imminent. Coming from you, they will understand and endure’.

“This weighty discussion between my father brother, me, and a Reverend Father was the only hospitalisation he checked in beyond routine visits, and couldn’t make it regrettably”.

It was a tough scenario and a big burden that Tony finally unbuttoned to an awe-struck physical and global audience, completely raptured in solemnity to the life and times of Agunechemba, the lion that kept with his people, even at enveloped personal trauma. Tony eventually did cave in to emotions, but the audience stoutly rose to a deserved ovation of comfort. His message from Agunechemba finally delivered, was a soothing liberation, the comfort of a never say die jolly good Okaka Ojoto, a human empire of passion and compassion, who kept fidelity to God and man to the very end.
He continued, So many people still wonder if Agu was only 63 years old. Yes he was. For a man who started early at 18 in Aba, following the death of our father, he became “husband” to our mother, father to five siblings with close age gaps, married at twenty one to Ugo Agu, moved to Lagos at 22 by prescient vision, became a big boy at 25, and kept aflame the successes he accomplished, with a character, integrity and physique never broken till death, it was understandable, to believe he has been around much longer. May we all be consoled by his good life as I’m trying to be myself, because that is what he wished. I’m proud as a personal testimony that I feel the greatest beneficiary of my brother’s love, wisdom, encouragements and uncommon inspirations. That will not leave me, I assure his soul and spirit, he concluded.

The only daughter of Sen. Annie, Dr Nkem Okonkwo betrayed no fragility in declaring that Agu loved his children unconditionally, with her getting every detail of a father’s dotting pecks. We are too aware of his resume as a borderless giver, but my father made certain, we not only got our dues, he sowed in each of us his core deposits appropriately.

His refinements and virtues that no bargain, nor travails will take away remain our treasures for life. It is to his honour, and a credit I owe him, that I stand before you today strong, because he sowed in me strength and calmness, to Uche, leadership and toughness, and a good grasp of Igbo language. To Ekene, he gave resilience and entrepreneurship, to Chuka, wisdom and kindness, to Annie Junior, generosity and authority, and the now big boy of the family, Somto, vision and vivacity. We will all stand strong for our mother, the gem of his life and his proudest companion, Nnem Chinyere Annie Okonkwo. The fortitude you all have been praying upon us is great and deeply appreciated. Nkem, a medical doctor practicing in United Kingdom was at home deploying the mental “stethoscope” for a father’s character evaluation, distribution and anointed virtue seasoning.

*Quote “Annie wrote his autobiography on the hearts of people.”

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