A tribute to High Chief Victor Ifeanyi Ikwuemesi (Ebube -Ogidi)
To My Daddy,
There are no words to express the depth of my grief. A heart broken in a zillion pieces doesn’t come near. Multiple piercings through my soul? Still nowhere near. There are indeed no words to describe the pain, the loss, the emptiness and the sadness I feel.
You were so many things to so many people, to me, you are simply, daddy.
Daddy how could you leave me now? That was not the plan.
Daddy, you were always there.
I just cannot remember a time in my life that you were not there for me.
As a child, you promised me everything. The roller skates that I wanted so much that were always on the ship. They never arrived because you thought they were dangerous but you couldn’t say no to me. When I was 7 years old, I wrote a book and illustrated it by myself, you were so happy with my attempt and promised me you would publish it. I still remember the front cover. It was an awful picture of a girl with spiky hair, but daddy you would never tell me that, instead you praised my work.
When I asked questions, you answered and explained to me. When some people said I talked too much, you corrected them and told them that I talked sense. You always told me I was intelligent even when I wasn’t sure. You encouraged me, not sometimes but always. You believed in me.
In boarding school, I never had to second-guess whether you would come on visiting days. You were a regular, everyone knew my daddy, recognised from a distance by your white hair. Do you know what that type of commitment does to a child? Daddy, you were always there.
Going to university you were there. Off for my masters degree, you were there. Getting married, you were there. At the birth of my first child, you were there. At the birth of my second child, you were there. Christenings of my children, you were there. First birthdays of my children, you were there, every birthday of my children you were there. Or is it eating out on birthdays? Any occasion of significance, you are always there.
When I started working, my colleagues observed how much my daddy called me during work hours. When I started running my own business, you would visit me at the office whenever you were in the neighbourhood. If I was at home, you would stop by at the house instead.
When I wrote my first book, daddy you were there. It was you who saw an article I wrote and called me early one morning and suggested I turned into a book. I listened to you and I wrote that book. At the book launch, you were there, daddy you launched the book.
At the last HR bootcamp Conference 10th Year Anniversary Dinner, you were there. You say quietly observing. I knew what you were thinking and I know your biggest concern was my wellbeing going forward, you always thought I worked too hard.
For Zina’s 5th birthday you promised you would be there and for the first time in my life, you weren’t there and the world looked bleak and my joy became sorrow. For ChikwuZita’s 2nd birthday, I was devastated, no phone call in the morning, no credit alert to follow, no repeat phone calls to harass me over whether I have bought their presents. This is what you did for your grandchildren every birthday and Christmas. Whenever we are in London together, same protocol, making sure your grandchildren were taken care of. Daddy you were always there. So when Zina asks, ‘mummy why are you always crying,’ I honestly have no words.
Daddy, I miss you. I miss you so much that no words can express the sadness I feel. I am consumed by grief and I dread how life can be going forth.
Daddy, who will love me like you did? Who will call me like you did? Who will support me like you did? Who will be as objective as you are when there are issues? Who has your wisdom? Who will give advise like you did? Who will pray for me like you did? Who will delight like you did when I forward pictures and videos of my children to? Who will I share their photos with? Who will think ‘family first’ like you did? Who will trust my judgement like you did? Who will understand me like you did?
Daddy, how could you leave such a huge void?
Daddy who can ever be like you?
Daddy you were always there.
We were in London with you for a month and we said good bye on February 22nd. How I wish I knew that was our last time together. So many things unsaid, so many questions still unasked. I thought there was time. ‘Daddy when are you coming back?’ I kept asking you everytime we spoke.
You were more than a father to my husband you were also his friend, sometimes I would watch you two speak for hours and wonder the kind of human heart that can be so accepting. The way you treated him was a true reflection of a father’s love.
To my Zina, you were her best friend and would delight everytime she said so. You were at her last school play and everyone remembers your presence because you were the only grandfather there. The last time we spoke, Zina prayed for you and I heard you cry, you always cried when she prayed for you. We were still confident that you would be fine, but alas, like a piercing to the heart, the news came that you were gone.
Yours is truly a glorious exit, you transitioned on Easter Monday, how apt. You always reminded me that everything is in God’s hands and I have no doubt that you are with your maker now. Oh, how much you loved and believed in your God.
To your people of Ogidi you were not just a High Chief, you are an icon. Ever present, you would support with donations, fund raising, scholarships, you educated so many. If we were to do a roll call of how many families you must have funded, it would be easier to just count the few you missed.
You were so social yet you despised publicity. You loved to entertain people yet you avoided the limelight. You gave so much of yourself, the testimonies of your generosity abound. Very well honoured and respected, yet humility personified. No airs or graces just being your classic self. You wouldn’t accept being celebrated in life and now you have no choice and will be exposed in your farewell.
For months, I couldn’t speak, I still can’t speak about it without breaking down, even to write this, I have wept for days. Sometimes I am amazed how much tears the human eye can cry. Daddy I am so sad and I know you won’t be happy with me for being this way. No one can ever understand my pain but I know you do. I just heard you say ‘KK, ebe zi na (KK, stop crying)’ so I will stop now.
I have been told not to mourn like an unbeliever, perhaps I am? My grief has indeed tested my faith, that, I cannot lie. I don’t want to hear all those stories, I just want my daddy back.
Daddy, it’s been hard, sometimes it seems unbearable, my only sollace has been when I see you in my dreams. Thank God for that, but then, I wake up to the nightmare of your absence. Other times I look at my son and he reminds me so much of you. He doesn’t like stress at all. Like you, he doesn’t like to do any physical work, indeed, we all work for him.
Some say time is a great healer, as if I can ever forget you. I know I will never move on but I will surely move forward, taking you along.
It’s definitely not over, as I carry every bit of you in my heart. Sometimes I find myself thinking what would daddy have done, what would daddy think?
Daddy you are the best of me. So much of the good in me I know I got from you. I just wish I can be more of you in so many ways. Daddy, I will try harder.
There are fathers in this world, Daddy, you are more than ten thousand. You are indeed a legend and it is indeed a privilege to be your daughter.
Daddy, thank you for the opportunity to be your daughter, and I will never disappoint you, that I promise you.
Rest well daddy.
See you in my dreams.
Forever in my heart.
Ekene Adora Ikwuemesi