I cannot thank God enough for gracing my life with such a good man. Dad was a devoted Christian man of few words who had the fear of God in him; a disciplinarian, yet a loving father. He was a wise and shrewd businessman, mindful of his ways. He was a man of integrity and high moral values; a man whose endeavours were successful and earned him the respect of his peers and elders. Dad had the “Midas touch” because everything he touched seemed to turn into gold. Not only was he successful in business but also friendly to his community. My hero, was kind, yet often misunderstood. When you get to know him, you would love him dearly.
I thank God for the way our dad raised us – to be mindful of our behaviour both in and outside the home. He was very protective and maintained an early curfew for all of us. If our cousins took us to a night party and dad found out, that was the end of us visiting those cousins’ homes, but they could come to ours.
Some of my siblings thought our father was too lenient with me. However, I did not think so. They thought he loved me more than others, but this was not true. He loved us all equally and remained a good example to us all. He took us on business trips and introduced us to some of his business partners, even at our young age. I was also introduced to the art of signing business contracts for which I was witness for my father. I often travelled with him to Umuagwo, where he had his palm plantation and palm oil processing plant. It was during these trips that I learned the importance of hard work.
He was a man of integrity for whom God, family and good name were of utmost importance. He would never cheat you out of any business dealings; rather he would give you the change at the end of the deal because he did not want his name tarnished. Dad was prudent, frugal, and knew how to manage even when he lacked.
He was a visionary thinker or planner. I once asked him how he got his business ideas and he said “What God has given someone cannot be truncated”. He then told me that God has given him visions of what to do in his sleep and if he follows that vision, he always succeeds.
Dad was intentional and purposeful, a replica of his dad (my Grandpa), with respect to time management. He strategically mapped out his daily activities. His father, grandpa, Paul Okoro Okwara-Ojiaku, tagged him “Atufulemgbe”.
Dad and I were extremely close. We talked about everything you can think of and he hid nothing from me. He was a peace lover; always encouraged us to be at peace with one another; and reminded us that it would not profit us to suffer on earth and still got to hell where the suffering is worse. Occasionally Dad would say: “Chinyerenwam, ima aha nnam nyere gi?” I would act like I didn’t hear him or I would start to change the subject, because I knew he wanted to in-still in me one of his wisdoms of the day. He would say: Okuguru (my grandpa) kporo gi “Nwametu”. I then rolled my eyes, saying in my heart, there goes the long speech again. I had no choice but t o sit down and listen, because If I didn’t, he would tell me a longer version of the same story again. His father named me Nwametu (which means nwametu ka nnaya). Just like his father never wasted his life, my father (Chief Ben OkoroOjiaku) never wasted his life, so shall I not waste mine, thus the name Nwametu. When my grand dad was alive, I usually went to see him and sweep his room and he would place his hand on my head and bless me, saying “Igaemekannagi; igaemekam,igaghi atufu mgbe gi.” My dad would show up sometimes to make sure his dad was okay and during those blessing times, my dad would concur. It was truly a blessing to have those two icons in my life.
My dad’s passing has created a vacuum in my life and in the family that cannot be filled by anybody. In fact, I don’t sleep well since Nov. 15, 2019. I just don’t know how to cope and I don’t understand the circumstances of his death, but I cannot question our Almighty God. I am so privileged to have been raised, mentored and loved by my iconic father – Chief Ben Igboanusi Atufulamgbe Okoro-Ojiaku. I like to think Dad is not dead; I still see him, feel him, and hear his voice. His chapter is not closed; but just beginning
Sempre Viva Daddy!