Chief Chijioke Akanwa: the unsung hero
By Paddy Anyatonwu
“If the show of gratitude is a juju practice, then, I am an occultist”.
– Paddy Anyatonwu.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
-William Arthur Ward
Those who know him closely, call him, Chimbu.
His friends call him Chijioke while his peers address him as Arakancha.
Dee, I fondly call him, I never knew him until my late father, a headmaster took me to his house and told me that he is my elder brother.
He got peeved, telling my father that instead of coming, he should have summoned him.
Trust teachers, he reasoned with him and insisted why it is customary that he brings his son over to him.
Dee embraced me, gave me a peck on the forehead, before going into a closed-door meeting with ‘Head’.
As he hugged me, I perceived a strong aroma and I was reluctant to let go.
Afterwards, he asked my father to leave us to enable him have a discussion with the little me.
This gesture made my father ecstatic. Both men embraced and the headmaster left with smiles on his face on top his CD 175 machine.
Dee was a big man no matter the standard of measurement then.
Dee and I had a brief discussion regarding my future ambition.
As this time, the information I was processing from the kitchen was friendly.
For the first time in my life, I ate food with a bottle of coke.
Indeed, I was convinced that Chimbu as my father calls him was a big man.
Again, for the first time in my conscious life, I was driven in a car.
Then, I became a big boy because; none of my siblings had entered a car.
For the little me, I was a big boy.
I can’t remember any other person known to me who had the kind of car Dee had.
Dee owned a brand new ‘Santana’.
To escape being flogged by the headmaster, just tell him that Dee Chimbu came home and that you have been in his house.
Automatically, your sins are forgiven.
Every Easter and Christmas celebrations, most of us became Almajirs.
His house in the village was a Mecca.
Jesus, Dee Chimbu had a Big television and the first place I saw a coloured television.
Many of us will gather and literally would not want to go until our parents come to pick us one by one.
None of the parents frowned.
Dee, as I was thinking about this piece, the thoughts of Henri Frederic Amiel came to my mind.
He said that “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts”.
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Dee, paddy is thankful to you.
After graduation, I went to Lagos and Dee lived in Lagos.
His house at 5th Avenue, Festac Town, Lagos was a nest for many of us.
Oh, may the Source of Creation bless Dee’s wife.
She made sure that we always eat.
We were 11 young men eating from one pot. Able-bodied dudes.
Dee was open to all of us.
We all had access to his bedroom.
Despite our number, there was no bickering or anyone trying to outsmart one another.
Dee is and was a Don.
‘Ashiri’ was not allowed as he considered it an immortal sin.
Dee Chimbu was liberal with his money and wanted all of us to look good.
Almost all of us went to university from his house.
All of us learnt how to drive from his house using any of his numerous cars.
Dee is a rare being, he created a system that allowed us to make money off him.
For example, he will send you to the market to buy a product, let’s say, four units of a vehicle tyre. He knows that each costs N5, 000. He will give you N35, 000. Which means that there is a difference of N15, 000. You will come back with an invoice of N30,000. That is each is N7,500.
He looks at you and chuckled and demand, “Dimkpa, did you bring any balance at all”?
A few days after, he will see you with a new set of clothes, he will quietly call you and say, Enyi, that market I sent you that day is good on you. Honestly, you look good.
Remember, anything you do, always bring back my balance no matter how small.
Dee, let me openly confess, we made money off you.
Just as Dalai Lama will say that “the roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness”.
Dee Chimbu, Paddy wants to use this opportunity to say thank you for shaping many of us.
Arakancha, as your peers call you, you exposed me.
Most weekends, you will give me some money, a car and say, ‘ boy, go and flex, but avoid trouble.
When you were doing your Masters degree at Unilag, I literally lived with you at the University guess house.
Though, I don’t have your approval to write this, but, most of us owe you.
Is it not true that you are an unsung hero?
Let me conclude this piece with thoughts of Charles Schwab, “the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement”.
Dee, as you dey age dey go, continue doing good.
Paddy is indebted.
Chief Chijioke Akanwa: the unsung hero