His one-year sojourn there was routine, and crucially, almost without any joy. And his eventual, almost inevitable departure, without any fanfare. However, the return of Peace Mass Transit founder, Dr. Sam Maduka Onyishi, to one of his alma maters, Buberndorf Memorial Grammar School, (BMGS), Adazi, over four decades after, had all the trappings of a carnival. Dignitaries abound for they were many!
It was at Buberndorf, Adazi, in present-day Aniocha Local Government Area Anambra State, that Onyishi had his first post-primary school experience, as a 14-year-old.
His overall experience as a fresher, a homeboy who was raised to be humble and content with the little he had, contrasted with the bullying disposition of students from tougher backgrounds, who habitually forcefully took his stock of provisions, leaving him high and dry!
The account of Dr. Onyishi’s stint in BMGS and other schools is captured in his Biography-Sam Maduka Onyishi-Peace-Man of Destiny, by Joe Asogwa.
The oppression by this group of students, coupled with the death of Onyishi’s father, about the same time, had made his departure from BMGS inevitable. The task of replenishing stolen provisions for his teenage son, from time to time, commuting between Nsukka and distant Adazi, on visitations, and attending to the needs of her other children, had become such a big challenge for his mother, now a widow.
But the vicissitudes and melancholy of that era had paled into distant, almost extinct memory, exactly 42 years after, on December 8, 2019, when Dr. Onyishi returned to his Alma Mata on the 60th anniversary of the Catholic mission school. One major highlight of that occasion was the unveiling of the plague of the gigantic school hostel, a one-storey block, named after Dr. Sam. Maduka Onyishi. He had left the school in 1977, lonely and unsure of the future, but returned December 8, a worthy, accomplished ambassador, with a modest entourage of his wife, Lolo Ifenyinwa, and young twin sons, all of whom evidently marvelled at the colour and magnitude of the event of the day.
Dr. Onyishi himself was short of words, apparently overwhelmed, wondering aloud, if indeed he merited the honour, having exited BMGS as an unsung, unrecognizable boy in his early teens, and more fundamentally, having done nothing in particular for the school ever since, and, thirdly even though a devout Christian, not of the Catholic stock!
Honours and recognitions have become second nature to this alumnus, over the years, but this one by BMGS made Dr. Onyishi and his family a bit emotional. He told his staff later in retrospect: “This honour is just too much for me because I don’t understand the reason behind this it I didn’t build the hostel.”
Present at the occasion were Chief host and Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most. Rev. P C. Ezeokafor, and Anambra State Governor, Chief Willy Obiano, who was Chief Guest of Honour.
Dr. Onyishi made an undisclosed cash donation to the school, while thanking the owners profusely for the uncommon honour.