From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The sleepy town of Umuanum in Ohekelem, Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State came alive on January 4, 2022. That beautiful Tuesday, the town witnessed unusual human and vehicular traffic as men and women of timbre and calibre descended on the area. From far and near they came, to join the managing director/editor-in-chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, bid farewell to his father-in-law, Pa Silas Amaghereonu Nwachukwu.
Described by many as a good and honest man in every material particular, Pa Silas joined his ancestors at the age of 82.
One of the natives, who was overwhelmed by the number of guests, said: “If only the dead could see, I’m sure the late Pa Silas Nwachukwu would be grinning from ear to ear for the carnival-like funeral accorded him by his children, grandchildren, in-laws, peers and, of course, the church as he joined his creator.”
Another native, Elder Amuwa, said: “After witnessing this kind of burial, death becomes attractive.”
The Zigima Band, led by highlife maestro, Bright Chimezie, entertained guests with his scintillating music. Not to be outdone were the famous Ohafia war dancers from Abia State and other local musicians, who further added colour to the event. It was a carnival of a sort as the cultural buoyancy of the Igbo was showcased.
The top echelon of The Sun Publishing Limited was fully represented as editor, Daily Sun, Iheanacho Nwosu, editor, Saturday Sun, Tope Adeboboye, and editor of Sunday Sun, Chidi Nnadi, led other line editors and members of staff to show solidarity with Ukeh, a worthy son-in-law of the deceased.
From the church, administrator of Okpala Archdeaconry of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Rev. Canon Christian Ifesie, led the officiating ministers, including the Archdeacon, Nekede, Ven. Solomon Azubuike, Vicar, Ohekelem Parish, Rev. Canaon Kenneth Oparada, Vicar, Amato Parish, Rev. Canon Gideon Njoku, and CSS1 Administrator, Naze Archdeaconry, Rev. H.O. Nwachukwu, among others.
Various arms and groups of the church were represented as they honoured Pa Silas, who was addressed as “our father in the faith” during the commendation.
Before the funeral service conducted by St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Ohekelem, the body of Pa Silas was moved from Orient Mortuary, Egbelu, Uvuvru Mbaise, that morning for lying-in-state in his compound.
Pa Silas was a blue blood. He was born in 1939 to the late Eze Gabriel Uganwa of Umugakwo, in Eziama Ngor-Okpala, now in Ochulu autonomous community, Ngor-Okpala LGA, Imo State. He lived the greater part of his life in Umuanum, Ohekelem, where he died.
Pa Silas started his elementary education at Community Central School, Ohekelem, and completed it at another primary school in Umuogu, Mbaise, in Aboh Mbaise LGA, Imo State, where he obtained Standard Six certificate.
He worked at Cadbury Nigeria Plc as a salesman in the 1960s, first in the Western Region, where they used megaphones to promote Bournvita and Pronto from street to street, and later in the Eastern Region.
Pa Silas was serving in the Eastern Region when the Nigeria-Biafra war broke out, but he did something remarkable. He was the only Cadbury staff in the Eastern Region who returned the company’s property in his possession, including a brand new pick-up van, money and products, through John Holt, which served as Cadbury’s outlets, for onward return to Lagos.
For his rare display of honesty, Cadbury Plc re-employed him after the civil war. He left the company some years after and returned to his village, where he engaged in farming and community service.
Pa Silas is survived by his wife, Mrs. Fidelia Nwachukwu, seven children and grandchildren.
His children include Mrs. Chidiadi Iheanacho, Mrs. Nkechi Alessandra Onuoha-Ukeh, Miss Chikaodi Nwachukwu, Miss Oluchi Nwachukwu, Mrs. Chinasa Chidi-Okoro, Mr. Andrew Chinaegbomkpa Nwachukwu and Mr. Chibuzor Nwachukwu.