Late Hon. Chief L/R Francis Enyinna Nwokoma (1938-2012)
(Ozurumba 1 of Ohazu)
There will be no more death, no more pain. (Revelation 21:3-5)
The end of life is to be like God, and the soul following God will be like Him (Socrates)
Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever (Psalm 112:5-7)
Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:11-13)
By persevering over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination. (Christopher Columbus)
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)
irst of all, I must admit that these are hard times which test the soul of men for the Ubochi Family. We have been having it very rough! I must admit that God blessed this family, but, Satan has been fighting us to a standstill. I pray that God will help this family to defeat the evil one and his agents. May be, no other family around struggled harder than this family, still we have nothing to show for our efforts. After the war, this family was one of the most prosperous. When other families were still putting together their pieced lives after the civil war in 1972, this family was already blazing a trail. But in a twinkling, the world of this family came crumbling down. The trend hasn't stop. Why do our good times never last long; what are we doing wrong? We take solace in what the Bible says in John 16:33 "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world". The point is clear. Let us continue trusting in the presence and power of Jesus in the midst of life's storms, and that will be the antidote to tribulations and fear. The apostle Peter offers us a different kind of wake-up call-one that while unpleasant is necessary. He alerts us to a spiritual battle we are engaged in with a powerful enemy. Apostle Peter warns, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). This is a call to wake up, see the danger, and be ready for his attack! Bill Crowder wrote that "Only when we are aware of the danger that faces us every day will we consciously seek the help we need. And only if we are on the alert will we lean on the strength of our Lord, who is greater than our spiritual enemy". And, Sper wrote that "We need not fear defeat; for when God fights the battle, our enemies retreat".
The greater Ubochi Family is in deep mourning, in that not long ago, the matriarch of the family, Charity Ubochi, was struck by stroke. As we were trying to overcome that shock, the pillar of this family, Hon. Chief Francis Nwokoma, who we are burying today, died. As if the pain is still not enough, few months later, the patriarch of Ubochi Family, Elder Frank Ubochi, died. The burial of Elder Frank is coming soon, but, for today, we are here to bury a man of extra ordinary qualities.
There are things about Chief Nwokoma which only I, my mother and probably, my senior sister know about. I was born few years before the outbreak of the civil war. During the war, our family endured all the hardship with the hope of a better tomorrow, just as Maya Angelou (1928), an American author and poet, wrote "I've learned that no matter what happens or how much bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow". And, also as Thich Nhat Hanh (1926), who is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist, wrote that "If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today". I started knowing Hon. Chief Nwokoma well and the stuff he was made of during that civil war. Before I can keep memory of what was going on around me, we were on the move, displaced by the rampaging and pillaging Nigerian Armed Forces. My nuclear family then made of my late father, Nelson Nwokoma of the blessed memory, my mother, my grand mother, Martha ogbodiya, my uncles, Francis, Alfred and Monday, and, my sisters, Regina and Jane, sticked together and loved each other. One thing I observed then and the years later was that Hon. Chief Nwokoma, his senior sister and my aunt, Comfort Nwanyinna Nkparu (married into Nkparu's Family of Osumenyi in Anambra state), his brothers (my uncles), Alfred and Monday, loved and respected their senior brother, Nelson Nnah Nwokoma, and almost saw him as a second god after the almighty God up above. They never disobeyed or disputed his words. When the war broke out, the family relocated to Umuokorogu in Isiala-Ngwa, but, was sacked from there by the Nigerian Armed Forces and we were taken to a camp in Okpuala Ngwa. From there, the family found their way to Umuogele and then to Umuawa, all in Isiala-Ngwa. One thing I observed, through the eyes of a child, was how industrious and caring Hon. Chief Francis Nwokoma was. He engaged in peeling, grinding and frying cassava tubers all the same day, in order to sustain this big family during the war. My father, Nelson Nwokoma, was so pre-occupied with his Red Cross duty; helping the wounded Biafran soldiers, the sick Biafran populace, and the sharing of relief materials. Hon. Chief Nwokoma helped in taking care of our family then and thereafter.
Unfortunately, along the line, Hon. Chief Nwokoma and his brothers, Alfred and Monday, enlisted into the Biafran Army to fight for the emancipation of the Igbo people who were haunted down and killed in the northern and western parts of Nigeria. Hon. Chief Nwokoma was taken to Port Harcourt to fight. When the Biafran forces surrendered and the war was "declared" over, Hon. Chief Nwokoma and his brother, Monday, returned to the family, but, sadly, their other brother and my very handsome uncle, Alfred, didn't make it back. Until her death in 1999, my lovely grandmother, Martha Ogbodiya (may her soul rest in perfect peace), never gave up hope of seeing her son, Alfred, again. She was hoping against all hopes that someone would come to tell her something about her son.
As we were mourning the missing in action of my uncle, Alfred; Satan struck us another devastating blow. In 1972, just two years after the civil war, the patriarch of the Ubochi Family and my biological father, Nelson Nnah Nwokoma, died mysteriously. Precisely, on December 31, 1972, as the world was about to usher in a new year, the Ubochi Family was in sorrow as the head of the family died when he had just become a very successful man within a short time after the civil war. The whole family was devastated and didn't know what hit them. What happened that a man, who was a manager and was one of the few prosperous ones immediately after the war when others were in penury, should die? That question hasn't been answered till today! One thing that I still remember is that rain seldomly falls in December; but, that day Nelson Nwokoma died (December 31), the sky opened up and heavy rain fell without any notice, showing that something strange has happened in the land.
Nelson Nnah Nwokoma left a wife and five children. The question then was: who is going to take care of this big family? That was when my close journey with Hon. Chief Francis Nwokoma began. Hon. Chief Nwokoma, just like during the civil war, when he contributed immensely to the upkeep of the family, took the challenge and decided to take over the family. Just as I said earlier, the family has been one and will always remain one no matter the temptations and distractions from all sides. When Nelson Nwokoma was the Manager of Progressive Insurance Company, he made his junior brother, Hon. Chief Francis Nwokoma, the resident inspector, a kind of third in command, of the company. After his death, the second in command took over the managerial position of the company and Hon. Chief Francis Nwokoma moved a step higher to the second position, and, it didn't take long before he (Hon. Chief Francis Nwokoma), due to his capability and effort, became the Branch Manager of the Insurance Company, all based on the foundation his senior brother, Nelson Nwokoma, laid before his death in 1972.
We love and will continue to love Hon. Chief Francis Nwokoma, because, he first loved us by giving us the chance to live after our father's death. He was under no obligation to do what he did, but, due to the love in his heart, he decided to be a rock for us to stand on, when everywhere else was sinking sand for us. He gave us all a father can give to his children based on his ability and the wherewithal at his disposal. We have seen many fathers who abandoned their biological children and cared less about them, infact, what Hon. Chief Francis Nwokoma did for his senior brother's family was more than what some fathers did for their real families. Only those who know the Ubochi Family right from the beginning have the knowledge that Chief Francis Nwokoma wasn't our biological father as we never complained about or demarcated our relationship. Hon. Chief Nwokoma epitomized what Apostle John said (1 John 4:11) "If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another", and, what Ray Stedman (1917 -1992), who was an evangelical Christian pastor and author wrote, "As God's love shines into our hearts, we become more open to others, allowing the fragrance of love to drift out and attract those around us". Hon. Chief Nwokoma's love for others is telling us that a godly life is a fragrance that draws others to Christ. Let us be the means to be used by God to spread His love to others, just as Anne Cetas wrote that "God can spread the fragrance of His love through us today. Let our prayers always be: "Lord, I'm so thankful that because You first loved me, I am able to love others. Please spread the sweet fragrance of Your love through me to everyone I interact with today".
FOR HON. CHIEF NWOKOMA'S FAMILY MEMBERS:
I pray that we will continue to stay strong, courageous and steadfast. Our husband, father and brother led a very useful and productive, albeit, short life. We all should be consoled that the Lord gives life and takes as he pleases, though it is a painful exit, trust in one thing that there is life after death and that Dee Enyinna is resting in the bosom of Abraham. Let's know that death is the last shadow before heaven's dawn. So with his death, Dee Enyinna has overcome his entire problem and is now in heaven, at the right hand side of God where no sickness or any other problem will get to. Those who put their trust in God will never be disappointed. As we enter the disturbing, unsettling seasons of life, it is good to know that real peace is available in the God of all peace. I ask the Prince of Peace to teach us to find in Him the calming power of His presence. Let Him strengthen us today with His peace, and grant us the stability we need in this turmoil-filled world. Amen.
I've heard people say: "I'm not afraid of death, because, I'm confident that I'm going to heaven; it's the dying process that scares me!" Yes, as Christians, we look forward to heaven but may be afraid of dying. We need not be ashamed to admit that. It is natural to be afraid of the pain that comes with dying, of being separated from our loved ones, of possibly impoverishing our families, and of regret over missed earthly opportunities.
Christians don't need to be afraid of death, because, Jesus was raised from the grave, and we who are in Christ will also be raised. That is why in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57, Paul proclaimed: "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But, thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." The dying process itself is but an escort that ushers us into eternity with God. As we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death," we can have this confidence from God's Word: "You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (Ps. 23:4). The picture here is of the Lord coming alongside us, giving comfort and direction as He escorts us through the dark valley to the "house of the Lord." There we will dwell with Him forever. It will just be as Anon wrote: "Think of just crossing a river, Stepping out safe on that shore, Sadness and suffering over, Dwelling with Christ evermore!"
Today, I have the joy to proclaim that Hon. Chief Nwokoma has crossed the river and is now safe on the shore where there are no sadness and suffering. He now dwells with Christ for evermore.
I leave everybody here today with the words of Tecumseh (1768-1813), who was a Shawnee Chief:
"Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about his religion. Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, and beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place show respect to all people, but grovel to none. When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."
Hon. Chief Nwokoma has gone home, up above, as a hero. Glory be to God!
God bless you!!!!
Temple Chima Ubochi
(On behalf of Ubochi Family)
(THIS WAS A SPECIAL TRIBUTE PRESENTED BY TEMPLE CHIMA UBOCHI DURING THE BURIAL CEREMONY OF HIS UNCLE, LATE HON. CHIEF FRANCIS E. NWOKOMA, ON THURSDAY 31ST JANUARY 2013 IN ABA NIGERIA)
Some of the excerpts (quotes) used were posted by Ebube Odunukwe (RBC Ministries) and Paul Aniugo
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!