If you are looking for exemplars, perhaps the Obosi monarch, Eze Chidubem Iweka III, defines one of the Renaissance men of his generation. His Midas touch in has become proverbial in multiple undertakings. Only two years ago, the muse led him to dine with Nigerian literary elite when his play, August Inmates, made the longlist of Nigeria’s biggest literary prize, Nigeria Prize for Literature, sponsored by NLNG. But writing is one out of the many things he does in the arts and culture sector.
With many initiatives in Obosi Kingdom, he has proven countless times he has got the expertise and gravitas for leadership. But we are beginning to see a new zest in philanthropy with the recent groundbreaking ceremony of the site for Eze Iweka III Building for the Ageing Research and Psychological Health at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
In this part of the world, the aged often put their trust in divine providence, and illnesses associated with old age have almost become uncharted waters. Some age faster, while others retain their wits to the very last. Eze Chidubem Iweka III would like more to be done in this regard.
On Friday September 25, 2020, the Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Charles Okechukwu Osemonu, and the university community welcomed the Obosi monarch and his entourage, as the former performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the aforementioned research centre.
Last Friday, the cloudless Unizik afternoon sky embraced the Obosi monarch and his entourage, made up of five cabinet chiefs and a few other associates, as they were received by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Charles Esimonye, at the Council Chamber.
Eze Iweka was introduced by Dr. Val Ucheagwu and Prof Rita Ugokwe Joseph, who are in charge of the project. A writer’s gift bag always include his books. The Obosi monarch demonstrated that for the umpteenth time when he presented his oeuvre to the VC, who reciprocated with a bag of souvenirs.
In his speech, Eze Iweka expressed his longstanding relationship with the university from 2008 when his novel, The Ancient Curse, was used for literature courses in the school. Shortly afterwards, he disclosed how he, together with Nobert Waski of Nollywood and a screenwriter, joined the Delta State branch of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), to understudy the awardwinning author and Chairman of ANA then, Prof. Sam Ukala.
He, subsequently, returned to revive the moribund chapter of ANA Anambra State chapter. Late Professor Okey Umeh emerged the State Chairman of the new ANA Anambra and him his deputy. Of course, that brought him closer to the institution in terms of participation in workshops and events, many years before he became a traditional ruler.
Besides, “In this era of my kingship,” he noted, “I have supported and revamped the Ito Ogboh Obosi, which is a triennial celebration of longetivity. Ito Ogboh is ancient traditional of Obosi Kingdom where members of the Age Grade that attained the age of 80 years are celebrated by their families and the town, a festival greater than Christmas, Easter and the New Yam Festival put together in Obosi Kingdom.
“The Festival, which has been practiced in Obosi Kingdom for a couple of hundred years, has now spread into other towns like Oba, Enugwu Ukwu and Ogidi. In recent times, all these factors led to the proposal for the Research Centre for Ageing and Psychological Health to be built in my name and Obosi.”
The Vice Chancellor, in his response, commended the philanthropic gestures of Eze Iweka in initiating the research centre, and assured of the university’s commitment to provide good services to the citizenry through quality research work: “This centre is the first. There is no center like this in this country. So, as you are doing this, people will be coming from all over Nigeria and other parts of the world.”
Lending her voice the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof Rose Ugokwe, said the aged centre would create more value among other benefits for the people: “Aging is a stage we need to research and know why some people are smarter than others and also hold annual lectures in our communities in Igboland and beyond.”
At the site of the proposed research centre, His Royal Highness, Igwe P.N. Ezeamana of Enugwu-Umuonyia, prayed and broke the kola nut, and Igwe Obosi and the VC, in turn, laid the foundation stone for the epoch-making building. The cost of massive structure will be borne by the Obosi monarch.
An excited Eze Iweka told Daily Sun: “I am totally amazed by the tremendous accolades, support and enthusiasm shown by my friends, relatives and well-wishers even strangers, for this project. It clearly states that it’s a worthy cause.”
Among the Eze Iweka cabinet members present on the entourage included Chief Dr. Osakwe (Odu), Chief Emeka Onwuekwe (Ogidi), Chief Okey Mgbemena (Uzzi), Chief Guy Okechukwu (Ojuba), and Chief Dr. Ndudi Muonago (Igweoba). Also present was Engineer Onyebuchi Iweka.