He was an ordinary man with an extraordinary soul. And in many years to come, the heroic deeds of this 38-year old man from Bakana in Rivers State would continue to reverberate across lands far and near, narrated in expansive superlatives by people who were nowhere near the scene.
On July 31 this year, Blackson lost his life while labouring hard to save the lives of others. A passenger boat ferrying 24 persons to Bakana, a community in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State, had capsized in the river at a riverine settlement called Iboroma, and the passengers were drowning. As soon as he heard of the incident, Blackson, a good swimmer and diver, rushed to the scene and jumped inside the river. Undaunted by the angry surge of the waters, he singlehandedly rescued 13 of the desperate passengers.
Unfortunately, the life-saver couldn’t save his own life. The young contractor became exhausted while trying to rescue the 14th person, and he couldn’t survive the fury of the surging waters.
His mum, Elizabeth, described the deceased as a humanitarian with a great passion for everyone around him.
Since his death, many have appealed to both the Federal Government as well as the Rivers State government to immortalise the late hero. Such appeals have noted that the young family of the deceased was in dire need of immediate help. It is not clear if the authorities have acceded to such requests.
Joseph Blackson is therefore winner of The Nigeria Hero Award.