Chief Hyacinth (Odigili) Ilonze (1934-2016) A wiseman missed by his community
Ilonze, who died on September 5, 2016, was an Aba-based astute businessman, who gave his best to family and community. He was born 82 years ago to the Ilonze family in Enugo Village Ojoto, where he had his primary education before venturing into business.
His son, Chukwemeka Ilonze, also known as Mkpume Ojoto, in a tribute he sent to The Guardian, said his father was an embodiment of wisdom and sacrifice.
“It is given to all mortals to answer the call of death. But since transition, I have been here and there with so much on my mind. Too many questions without answers!, he said.
“Yours was a life of accomplishments, a success story. Like a colossus, you towered above every challenge, and fought a good fight of faith, creed and knowledge. Yes, there were many battles…but you emerged victorious — almost in all of them.
“Oh death, where is thy sting? Ekegwu, as your kinsmen called you, I watched you with consternation as you fought death, only succumbing to the gracious will of the Almighty God.
You succumbed because God holds greater reward for you than this earth. God’s will prevailed.
I promise I won’t forget. Yes, I won’t forget the great lesson you taught me in life and in your death: That it is better — even graceful —for a man to descend a tree right from the spot he began the climbing, than risking a bad fall while trying to alight through the branches.
“You also taught me to be the best at what I do. You taught me to learn love, care, and to carry everyone along. Yes, Daddy, you lived and taught discipline to all your children. If it were possible, my siblings and I would have paid whatever ransom death would give possible. Yes, I would have loved to apply a buyout clause for your life.
“Although you said I should be strong in all situations I wept the day you passed on knowing how strong a man you were. It was difficult to watch your lifeless body and closed eyes gazing into space. Ekegwu, you should have known that this is truly hard for wife, my children and me. But because we believe it is the will of God, we have no other choice than to bow in faith.
“We find solace in God and in the fact that you lived a life worthy of emulation.
The entire Enugo Village will miss your wisdom, your love and your care. Your selfless service and unconditional support for the less privileged will ring through generations unborn.
“Those who are close to you will miss your fatherly advice and my family will live to tell the good old story of your virtues. Ichie Ezekegwu, I salute your courage, you are one father many people yearn to have. I am absolutely happy and feel more than honoured to be your son.
“I respect you, sir. May the Almighty God grant your gentle, loving, caring and accommodating soul eternal rest in Jesus’ name. Amen.”