From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
“I am always grieved when a man of real talent dies. The world needs such men more than heaven does,” noted Georg Christoph Lichtenberg.
The assertion by the Austrian statesman succinctly captured the mood of friends and family members who gathered on January 14 to bid farewell to the late Dr. Jimanze Ego-Alowes, one of the most cerebral columnists, author and critical thinkers of his generation.
The funeral service was held at the family compound in Ndimbara Amaegbu community, in Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo State.
Rev. Joseph Okereke of the Foursquare Church, in his sermon, described the deceased’s death as a “midnight trouble” for the family.
He said: “God cares during the midnight troubles. It is a time of sorrow, sadness and troubles. It is also a time of mercy and judgment. I pray that the merciful God will not permit anymore untimely death in this family again.”
But it was also a day of eulogies for the departed author, poet, columnist and journalist by those who knew him closely while he was alive.
Managing director/editor-in-chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, described Ego-Alowes’s death as a great loss to his family, the nation and humanity. He said The Sun family shared in the grief, as the late writer maintained a column in the newspaper till his death.
Ukeh said it was difficult to talk about Ego-Alowes in the past tense, since his intellectual works, in the form of books he published, were there for people to always read.
“Our friend may have died, but he lives on. The books, articles and other research documents he published are legacies of this great mind, deep thinker and intellectual,” he said.
He advised the family to take solace in the fact that the name of Ego-Alowes will never be forgotten, since his intellectual works are available.
Tola Adeniyi, president, League of Nigerian Columnists, described the late columnist as a great genius who was under-reported, under-appreciated, under-utilised and under-celebrated.
“Yet Jimanze will be adjudged one of the greatest African intellectuals of the 21st Century. Jimanze was bold, forthright and stubbornly unapologetic about his convictions. Great minds live forever; so shall you and your noble soul,” he wrote.
Ikechukwu Amaechi, managing director/editor-in-chief of TheNiche, said of the deceased: “The prolific author has gone the way of all flesh. He did his utmost best while he was on this side of the divide to expand the frontiers of knowledge. It is a sad commentary on the nation’s pathological contempt for scholarship that he is not being celebrated as a man who contributed so much to the country.
“Jimanze wrote seven books, including ‘Nigeria: The Unreported Genocide Against the Igbo’, ‘How and Why the Yoruba Fought and Lost the Biafra-Nigeria Civil War’, ‘Minorities as Competitive Overlords’, ‘The University-Media Complex as Nigeria’s Foremost Amusement Chain’, and others.”
Prof. Chinweizu, another literary giant, also eulogised the departed writer. He said: “It is refreshing to see a Nigerian venturing into the frontiers of ideas. You may disagree with some of his ideas, but you can’t but admire the sharpness of his mind, tenacity of purpose, originality of thought and audacity. He was an intellectual pugilist who never retreated from the ring, no matter how tough and intense the cerebral bout.”
Prof. Kingsley Moughalu, presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party at the 2019 presidential polls, also said of the deceased: “I remember when he gave me a drubbing in one of his columns. I merely smiled after reading it. ‘I will call him’, I said to myself. Because I believed he would understand when I explained the reasons and motivation for my foraying into politics. Sadly, I never got around to it before he left us.
“I am saddened by the death, reportedly of liver cancer, of Dr. Jimanze Ego-Alowes. I so wanted to meet Jimanze but never had the opportunity. He was brilliant, and had philosophical depth, which is rare in opinion writing in Nigeria today.”
“The author of several books, Jimanze was a quintessential public intellectual, an intellectual that could translate sophisticated ideas into popular consumption and understanding. But he was not a reclusive, reflective intellectual. He was outward-facing, with the personal conviction and confidence to be a polemicist who argued his ideas combatively in the marketplace of thoughts. I was always tickled by his trademark sign off after his controversial positions in his columns: Ahiazuwa (Let the noise begin).”
Chuddy Oduenyi, a personal friend of Ego-Alowes, also said: “His weekly column in the Daily Sun, titled ‘Turf Game,’ commanded a following that was simply overwhelming both in number and quality. His coterie of friends was that for whom intellectualism was a fond sport.
“Understandably, he lived the life of a dyed-in-the-wool scholar. He was enigmatic and lived a somewhat didactic life that was partly bohemian and largely puritanical.
“He was an asset whose upbringing and overall conduct gave practical expression to Daniel Webster’s contention that ‘If we work marble, it will perish; if we work upon brass, time will efface it; if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds and instil in them just principles, we are then engraving that upon tablets which no time can efface, but will brighten to all eternity.’”
Nduka Otiono, associate professor of African Studies, Carleton University, Canada, said: “We will continue to treasure your bold and provocative works, which include the seven books as well as your scores of op-ed articles on the political economy, spirituality and philosophy. Your death is one other death too many in this growing funeral orchard. Our consolation, however, is that your bold works will endure and travel beyond the shores of your dear homeland.”
Jimanze Ego-Alowes, who died in the early hours of December 25, 2020, of liver cancer was born on December 2, 1958. He was an author, poet, polemicist and columnist.