By Ingram Osigwe
On Thursday 5th May 2017, a pall of gloom descended on Ogbuo, village, Akwu-Akokwa in Ideato North local government area of Imo state. This was followed by wailing and gnashing of teeth in several households. Discerning minds didn’t need to look into crystal ball to conclude that the people had just lost an illustrious indigene, one dear to their hearts. Yes, indeed, Akokwa had just lost one of their best, Chief (Hon), Sir Christian Ifeanyichukwu Felix Okenwa.He lived for 63 years on earth. Chief Okenwa was man of the people. His communitywide acceptance and influence was not because he was the wealthiest or most educated person in Akokwa but because he was trusted by his people. He loved Akokwa and he made no pretence about it. His forthrightness stood him out.
Those who knew him or were close to him attest to the fact that Chief Christian Okenwa would hold on to the truth no matter whose ox was gored and irrespective of how hurtful, discomforting or bitter it was to his friends and relations.
As he would always say, “I am a Christian born into a Christian family and my name is Christian, why should I then lie or deceive people, what is Christianity all about?”.As a business mogul, politician, philanthropist and community leader, truth was his watchword and he wore it like a necklace. Okenwa’s elegant virtues endeared him greatly to the people of Akokwa. It was therefore no surprise that bedlam broke and the entire town thrown into mourning when the news of his demise filtered in. Chief Hon. Sir Christian Ifeanyichukwu Felix Okenwa (CIFO) was born on the 6thday of June, 1954 to the family of Late Mr. Felix Emeanuru Okenwa and Late Mrs.Keziah Oduagu Okenwa of Umuoleoha family, Umuezeanoruo kindred, Ogbuo village, Akwu-Akokwa Autonomous Community in Ideato North L.G.A, Imo State, Nigeria.
He was the fourth child of the family and the third male child. Felix was born at the popular Iyi Enu Hospital, Ogidi in Idemili North L.G.A Anambra State. At time of his birth; Felix’s parents were residing at Old Market Road, Onitsha.
Chris Okenwa started his primary education at St. Peters Primary School Akokwa in Ideato North Local Government Area, Imo State few years before the Nigerian- Biafran civil war broke out.
Chris was a self-made man and his childhood was exciting. A loyal, diligent and respectful lad, the young Ifeanyichukwu participated in all youth activities in the church and was a member of other pious church groups like the choir, youth fellowship and Boys Brigade among others at St. Peter’s Anglican Church Akokwa. As a teenager, Chris was very hard working and at the age of 13 to 15 years during the civil war, he engaged in what was then known as “Ahia Attack” which earned him good money. Even as a young boy, the plight of the Igbo and survival of the fledgling Republic of Biafra occupied his callow mind hence he later joined the “Boys Company”, an arm of the Biafran Army.
As budding business “boy”, the late Felix had a good number of goats, sheep and his business articles like kerosene, razor blade, bread, matches and other articles made him relatively rich and comfortable at that young age. His proud and grateful mother would admirably refer to him as Di Nne Ya (the mother’s husband).
At the age of 15, his mother stopped him from those businesses and took him to Chief Christian Igbokwe to learn bigger business (apprentice), at Christian Igbokwe and Brothers Company. While under Igbokwe’s tutelage, Chris Okenwa continued with his hardworking nature in every task he was assigned, and he was very honest with his master. Because of diligence and honesty his boss later transferred him to Port-Harcourt branch to assist the manager. A year later, the manager retired and he became the PH representative of C.E Igbokwe Group of Companies comprising C.E Igbokwe and Brother Trading Company,(P.H. representative) C.E Igbokwe Transport Company, Onitsha Aluminum manufacturing company, Igbokwe Block Industry Ltd etc. He became one of the company directors at the age of 21 representing Port-Harcourt Branch.
In December 1978 his master, Chief C.E Igbokwe settled him. In January the following year, Okenwa opened his own company known as C.I.F Okenwa (CIFO) & Co. and became a mega distributor for companies.
Felix was a self-made man and an achiever in all ramifications.
►Ingram Osigwe wrote from Akokwa