By JUDE NJOKU
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
This quote from the popular Shakespearian play, Macbeth, clearly illustrates the brevity and vanity of life. HUB, I find it hard to believe that you are no more. You welcomed me with open arms and accepted me as your son-in-law when some skeptics wondered how you and my late mother-in-law chose to give out your second daughter to a supposedly Mr. Nobody.
I vividly remember the story you told me about how you got married to your heartthrob when public opinion was overwhelmingly against that decision. You stunned those who opposed the marriage by telling them that if they cut off your head, it will roll to Ogbeke to get hold of Berna. That strong statement scared them to the marrow, hence they gave in to your choice. You constantly encouraged us with words like: “I had nothing when I married my wife; you are two young graduates with very bright prospects, the sky is therefore your limit”.
I cannot also forget in a hurry your wise counsel on “one block a day will produce 365 blocks in a year”.
The late Hyacinth Uche Berechi (HUB) Kagha was born into the family of the late Berechi Kagha of Umuikedim Umuogoloche, Ihitta Ogada in the Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State in 1939. He had his primary education at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Emekuku, Owerri. The death of his father when he was only four years, did not deter HUB from pursuing his academic endeavours.
After passing his Standard Six Exams in flying colours, the late HUB who did not have the privilege of attending a conventional secondary school due to lack of sponsorship, attended Preliminary Teachers’ Training College, PTC, Ogbaku in the Mbaitoli LGA and qualified as a pupil-teacher. He later got the Teachers’ Grade Two certificate from TTC Aazaraegbelu, Owerri
HUB’s undying hunger to further his education, saw him gain admission into seven Nigerian and foreign universities in one year.
This was after obtaining excellent grades in A’ Levels. He, however, enrolled to study History at the University of Ibadan. This golden opportunity would have eluded him but for the intervention and philanthropy of H.R.H. the late Eze G.N. Nwankwere, the Omereoha 1 of Ihitta Ogada who gave him the initial sum of 47 pounds for registration and other logistics.
Due to the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War, HUB transferred from the University of Ibadan to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, where he bagged the BA (Hons) in1972. He went back to UNN and in 1983, graduated with a Masters Degree in History. His doctorate degree programme from the same university was truncated when he had a serious road accident that affected his hearing. He was writing his PHD dissertation when the accident occurred.
HUB’s teaching career took him to many parts of Nigeria, including the defunct Benue/Plateau State, where he taught at Mount Saint Gabriel Secondary School, Makurdi in the early 70s. He also taught in schools at Ogwa, Mbieri, Orodo and Ogbaku in the Mbaitoli Local Government Area, and Imerienwe (1975-1987) in the Ngor-Okpala LGA.
He was the pioneer Principal of TEDEM College Imerienwe which metamorphosed into Imo Technical University, TEDEM. TEDEM, the first privately owned university in Nigeria, was established by the visionary Dr. Nnanna Ukegbu. HUB was the first Registrar of the university which offered admission to many young school leavers until the Buhari/Idiagbon regime closed it down, thereby killing a vision that would have taken education in Nigeria to greater heights. He was also the pioneer Principal of C.C.C Secondary School, Umuoba Uratta in Owerri North LGA. It was through his efforts that the school established by Monsignor Onwuanibe was approved and registered with the Imo State School system. The approval made it possible for students of the school to qualify to write both the Junior and Senior WAEC Exams.
A literary genius, HUB was a Chief Examiner (Literature in English) with the West African Examinations Council, WAEC for several years. This position took him to many West African countries like Ghana, Gambia and Sierra Leone for international coordination.
In the field of politics, HUB was the President of the Federation of Catholic Students Union when he was at UNN. This took him to Switzerland and other parts of the world. He was the first Secretary of Alaenyi Peoples Forum, the umbrella organisation which streamlined the zoning of elective positions in the old Alaenyi ward comprising Ihitta Ogada, Awaka, Egbu and Naze in Owerri North LGA. He was the Secretary of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in old Alaenyi ward during the Babangida’s two-party dispensation. He was at a time, a member (Administrative Secretary) of Owerri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
HUB was a two-term Councilor; first in the old Owerri Local Government Area and until recently, he was the Supervisory Councillor for Health in the Owerri North LGA. The late HUB Kagha was the President-General of Ihitta Ogada Improvement Union from 1987 to 1992. It was during his tenure that the present Community Primary School Hall in the community was rebuilt. He paid school fees for many children both within and outside his nuclear family.
He was a member of the Eze-in-Council from 1995 -2003 and a member of the Advisory Committee of the present traditional ruler of Ihitta Ogada until death struck on August, 10, 2012. A Catholic, HUB served as the Chairman, Launching Committee for the building of St Kyrian’s Catholic Church in 2001.
An expert in conflict resolution, HUB was always there to settle nagging problems that had defied solutions. Those who had problems with their wives or in-laws would readily invite HUB who had the magic wand to settle such disputes.
HUB got married to his heartthrob, Miss Bernadette Amuneke of Ogbeke Obibi. The marriage which was consummated at St Paul’s Catholic Church Owerri on November 6, 1965, is blessed with four surviving children.
Mr Njoku is a staff of Vanguard Newspapers