By Bekee Igwe
Against the backdrop of the euphoria and backlash in the media against Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State for hosting the South African President, Jacob Zuma, attention shifted from a very important part of the activities to mark the 55th birthday of the seeming controversial politician.
Notably, focus was lost on the teeming children rescued by the governor through the Rochas Foundation. The children, drawn from several African countries, were specially honoured by the celebrant.
Granted that the Rochas Foundation had been known to engage in charity even before the Owelle became governor with schools across Nigeria, many had thought that the activities of the group were restricted or confined to Nigeria alone.
Thus, the 55th birthday celebrations provided a rare opportunity to unveil the politician’s heart of gold to several African countries as well as the chilly stories of abandonment, neglect, excruciating hunger and deprivation that was the lot of the children until they were rescued by the Rochas Foundation.
Of course, the visit of Zuma and the unveiling of a statue and road named after him blighted other important aspects of the ceremonies as well as benefits to Imo. And the governor was portrayed as insensitive, obtuse and outright stubborn-a clear deviation from the objective that informed the visit in the first place.
Unknown to many of his critics, Okorocha had meant to reserve a special place for the African child as part of activities to mark the 55th birthday. Though considered rather ambitious by close aides and those who make up his kitchen cabinet, the Owelle was determined to see the project to a hasty start, a fact that even the worst traducers cannot wish away.
The plan, according to insiders, was for the setting up of Rochas Foundation College of Africa in Owerri, Imo State capital, with five orphaned children each from 55 African countries. Meaning that the school will take off with 275 children.
This became a reality and the children resumed at the beginning of the first term of the 2017/2018 school year.
Perhaps, it may be necessary at this stage to highlight the story of the children from Liberia who are today part of the the Rochas Foundation College of Africa in Owerri.
First is Hada Sue who lost her mother during childbirth. She had been surviving in a local orphanage until Rochas Foundation found her.
The story of Hawa Karsieh is no less interesting. She lost her mother in 2011 and her father in 2012. Life as an orphan had been very difficult for her. She was in an orphanage boarding school, unsure of what the future holds or would offer until Rochas foundation found her.
For Abdulah Farsahwuo, Rochas Foundation was God sent. The Ebola pandemic almost wiped out his entire family including his father and mother. The young Abdulah was living with his aunt as a house help without going to school until Rochas Foundation found him.
By and large, it is definitely impossible to seek to tell the story of 275 orphans quartered and learning in the Rochas Foundation College of Africa in Owerri.
And posterity would definitely be kind to him each time attempt is made to review what Rochas has done.
*Igwe is resident in Ikeduru LGA of Imo State.