Mohammed, Onanuga, others bid Onuorah Nzekwu farewell
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, General Manager/Chief Executive of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr. Bayo Onanuga, were among those who paid their last respects to the founding General Manager/Chief Executive of NAN and notable writer, Chief Onuorah Nzekwu over the weekend at NAN Media Centre, National Theatre Annex, Iganmu, Lagos.
At the wake-keep that preceded the burial this weekend in Onitsha, Anambra State, Mohammed, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council (NPC), Mr. Nnamdi Njemanze, described Nzekwu as “a quintessential public servant, who played a pioneering role in the development of the country’s media landscape.
“As the first General Manager/Chief Executive of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), he set the pace as a mentor and media manager. By bringing together journalists and other professionals from different parts of the country to set up this pre-eminent News Agency in Africa, whose reach and coverage is second to none, he qualifies as notable nation-builders.
“Today our thoughts are with the family of this great Nigerian, who made impact as an educator, writer and cultural ambassador. His work as an editorial assistant, editor and editor-in-chief of Nigeria magazine in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, helped in documenting various aspects of country’s culture and heritage.
“His book Eze Goes to School, which he co-authored with Michael Crowder, helped in developing literary appreciation by most young Nigerians of our era, who were privileged to read it, and I happened to be one of them.”
On his part, Onanuga, who titled his tribute ‘The Glorification of a Titan,’ described Nzekwu as a wordsmith, saying he met the legacies Nzekwu left behind at NAN. Although he met Nzekwu through his literary works, especially Eze Goes to School, Onanuga said those who knew him tested to him being “a good man, who was fair to all and a good listener, who used to send unspent monies to the federal purse.
“Nzekwu developed a mastery of English in his writing; he was very prolific. He was awarded Maker of NAN IN 2008.”
Poet and PR strategist, Mr. Chike Ofili, also paid tribute to Nzekwu, saying his last novel, Troubled Dust, is an apt metaphor for the troubled times, with the North pitched against the South, especially South-Easterners, who are being handed eviction notice. He said Nzekwu sues for an unbroken marriage between the Hausa/Fulani-Igbo in his last major work.
“Nigeria deserves to last and endure,” Ofili said, “but it must be at a great exchange. Nzekwu was a man who wrote sentences that sing.”
However, apart from the NAN staff and others who attended, there were no top journalists or editors at Nzekwu’s last public outing in the city, where he plied his journalistic and literary trades for decades. So, too, the writerly fraternity, which, it would seem, boycotted the event and lost the opportunity to bid farewell to their own.