By Osondu Ahirika
As I am always given to do, I find very compelling need to make the novel, Notes of a Native Son by American writer, James Baldwin, the anecdote to anchor this piece on Late Elder Sunday Edohouqua Eyiboh.
The reason is simple. The underlying biographical script by Rt. Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, like James Baldwin’s essays comprised in his Notes of a Native Son, are essentially, memoirs, reflecting with incisive and precise illumination, his attestation about his father Late Elder Sunday EdohoUqua Eyiboh.
Looking upon his father on his deathbed, Baldwin undertook an unbiased interrogation of his father’s life, his relationship with his wife and children, his relatives, the African American community and to a larger point the white American society.
The social, cultural, political and economic schisms of the racially divided America so affected the psyche of the elder Baldwin, that, his whole life was defined by the hurts, deprivations, oppression and humiliation racism had inflicted on him. This is reason, Notes of a Native son, turned around to be a poignant expression of the city of Harlem in the United States in particular and a critique of the American State as a whole, reviewed as it were, from the prism of a father and his son’s relationship.
Honestly judged for its real value, James Baldwin told his father’s story with the structure of society in focus, to
rebuke and reform it. Apart from Baldwin’s prophetic quality and social
activism, he also charted a way for a better society.
This is exactly what, Rt Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, scion and heir of Late Elder Sunday Eyiboh attempts with his, at once, analytical, revealing, and astonishing memoir on his father.
Like James Baldwin, Eseme Eyiboh playing his father’s biographer, draws an irresistible sketch of the Nigerian society. Let me reproduce here unedited, the notes of Eyiboh on his father who has moved on to the great beyond. Please enjoy the read and we talk the lessons.
“THE FEAR OF DEATH FOLLOWS FROM THE FEAR OF LIFE. A MAN WHO LIVES FULLY IS PREPARED TO DIE AT ANY TIME” Mark Twain
LATE ELDER SUNDAY EDOHOUQUA EYIBOH lived a full life on his demise at the age of 79. He crowded in a single soul and life the renaissance spirit. He was a craftsman, an inspirational leader of men, a role model with reform mindset, a quintessential organizer, an astute administrator with entrepreneurial instinct. As a father and grandfather, he cultivated and sustained in his name generational competitive models spanning through politics, law, enterpreneurship, aviation, engineering, medicine and cyber science.
He rode the trajectory of the self-made man. He began as a genius of the manual dexterity. He became a carpenter after he completed his primary education at the QIC school at Akpautong. While he gloried in his craftsmanship as a carpenter, his eyes were glittering for opportunities. So, from the earnings of his toils and courage in his convictions, he took a notch higher at the Teacher’s Training College, Ndon Eyo in present Onna Local Government Area, where he obtained his Teacher’s Grade Three Certificate.
He won a berth in the classroom as a teacher. But his thirst for knowledge did not abate. So he pursued and secured his Grade Two Certificate at the Teacher’s Training College, Ndon Eyo. After plying himself with these qualifications, he taught at various primary schools and rose to the position of Headmaster at various times and in many schools, where some great men and women of honour and character had their pupillage under this great brood of worthy leadership tradition.
His value lay not only in his pedagogic skills in the classroom, but in the loftier realm of school administration. So, he was appointed to the Eket Divisional School Board as member. He acquitted himself so well that his appeal leapt across school administration. He was also appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cross River Newspaper Corporation (Publishers of the Nigerian Chronicle).
All along, his engagement with the society as a community organizer, role model and politician blossomed. As a politician, he chimed in with the prevalent ideological wellspring of his people, and rose to become the organizing secretary of the National Party of Nigeria(NPN), Eket Chapter. He also became Supervisory Councilor, Ibeno/ Edo Local Government Council; Supervisory Councillor Esit Eket Local Government Council; Chairman, Esit Eket Local Government Council.
He was a leading edge character and driven by the zeal of his hindsight,insight,foresight of life. He triggered prosperity through multi dimensional investment in education. He was a founding Project Leader, Community Secondary School, Akpautong and Proprietor, Esit Eket Community Nursery School. As a renaissance man, he also knew how to earn income from strategic design thinking and change management. He launched into an integrated marine and land transport logistics concern in the oil and gas industry and became a director in esuwdeik nigeria limited.
With his hands, he made things as a carpenter. With his voice, he moulded lives in the classrooms. With his nobility, he organized his people to higher ideals of community and sacrifice. Before his health started to flag, this man of faith, dignity and integrity had left high values behind as sublime legacies. He shall never die as his name is spoken in this,and generation beyond. His demise has only ended a life, not a relationship with his wife, two(one of whom is – Hon eseme eyiboh,former member & Spokesperson in the house of representatives)sons, two daughters and formidable grandchildren.
“EVERYMAN’S LIFE ENDS THE SAME WAY . IT’S ONLY THE DETAILS OF HOW HE LIVED AND HOW HE DIED THAT DISTINGUISHED ONE MAN FROM ANOTHER” ERNEST HEMINGWAY
Late Elder Sunday Edohouqua Eyiboh may not have lived long enough, but his good life was long enough.”
Folks’, if you read and digested this brilliant essay as I did, does it tell the story of our nation, and the real possibility of her rising steadily towards its full potential if men of purpose, mission, vision, zeal, focus, integrity patriotism and commitment step up to the challenge and serve society with zest? Do you discern the fecundity of a carefully laid out template of how a nation, ruptured as it were by the wiles of social, cultural, political and economic forces can still emerge, nurture and foster citizens awakened to full capacity and potential to excel and be truly great. This is the quintessence in the life of Integrity lived by Late Elder Sunday Edohouqua Eyiboh as rendered by his son, a chip of the old block.
As I sign off, here is Rt. Hon. Eyiboh’s personal undertaking: “His demise has only ended a life not a relationship with his wife, two sons, two daughters and formidable grandchildren.
Consequently, I humbly invite and plead your kind disposition to honour our family with your esteemed personal presence in the funeral obsequies on Saturday, November 07,2015, at the Family’s Compound, Akpautong village in Esit Eket Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.”