In the late morning of Thursday, November 7, 1996, Jaja Anucha Wachuku, my father's elder brother - my uncle - whom I was so close to went the way of all mankind. He was 78 having been born in 1918. I was devastated; but took firm courage knowing that within the depths of my soul lies the overwhelming inspiration and spirit of excellence plus love, servant leadership, taking things one day at a time, respect for other people, gratefulness, empathy and compassion which he gave my life and being. Please, the photograph above [left] shows my uncle Jaja Wachuku [in white outfit and cap] with US President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Daily, by the second, I live with his humble life of love and abiding achievements, his voice, his words and all that I learned from him. I'll fight on. I'll move ahead; if only to let him and humanity know that his trodden paths and life continue to touch mine deeply; just to reaffirm to him and humankind, that as Thomas Carlyle said: "no great man lives in vain."
Therefore, in tribute to this distinguished uncle of mine – Jaja Anucha Wachuku - Pa'm Jaja, I must rise each new day with unwavering spirit of love, compassion, empathy, service, humility and excellence to be who I am created to be. The poetic homage I wrote for my uncle Jaja Wachuku [fondly called Pa'm Jaja] is titled Some Memories Never Die:
In my dreams; in my tears;
in all that I wish this life
could be, I think of you.
I follow the path you walked,
back to ancestral harvests of
home. In my thoughts, I trail
the stars you lit in the galaxy.
I stare at life and at nature
all in remembrance of you.
Tonight, at early dawn, when
I dream of your voice again;
when I dream of the worthy
stories you gave me for life;
when I dream of all the
breathing blessings you left
in me, I will surely remember
that some memories never die.
And tomorrow and always,
I will longingly dream
of you once again because
Notably, uncle Jaja was the First African Laureate in oratory of the Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, First Speaker of the Nigerian Parliament - House of Representatives – receiving Nigeria's Instrument of Independence - also called: Freedom Charter, on October 1, 1960 from Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Queen of England's representative at the Nigerian Independence ceremonies. Interestingly, It was during this period and during his years as First Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister that uncle Jaja forged the reputed friendship that he had with three Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He was also good friends with Sam Rayburn: 48th, 50th and 52nd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Adlai Stevenson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marian Anderson, Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, Henry Ford II, Israel's Golda Meir, Nikita Khrushchev plus numerous leaders and people around the world - low and high in society .
In early 1960, on a United States of America tour as Speaker of the House, Jaja Wachuku was honoured and presented with the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Blue Seal, and Key to the City of Atlanta, Georgia. Uncle Jaja was also First Ambassador of Nigeria to the United Nations - hoisting Nigeria's flag as the 99th member of the United Nations on 7 October, 1960. In addition, he was First African Chairman of a United Nations Conciliation Commission - the Conciliation Commission to the Congo. Later, from 1961 to 1965, Jaja Wachuku was First Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations. And in Nigeria's second republic, 1979 to 1983, he was twice elected Senator representing Aba Zone of the world's most populous and industrious African country. The online encyclopedia profile of Jaja Wachuku can be found on the following Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaja_Wachuku
Accordingly, the online album I created for some of my uncle Jaja's photos is located at: http://www.care2.com/c2c/photos/view/238/702581388/Jaja_Anucha_Wachuku_/
Indeed, I started the creation of my upcoming book: American Galaxy - Celebrating the People and the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave / A Loving Higher Purpose for the People: http://uwachuku.googlepages.com/americangalaxy in January 1990 with encouragement and support from uncle Jaja; but with basic inspiration from the American people and their land of the free and home of the brave. So little did I know that six years later he would leave this world. His beloved wife, auntie Rhoda who was a source of solid, loving anchor and unwavering support for him plus better-half and help mate had died two years earlier, in 1994.
Back to his encouragement for my upcoming book: American Galaxy. A little after the clock struck noon, on a hot Nbawsi, Eastern Nigeria Wednesday 10 March, 1971, I was delivered into this world by my persevering, brave mom. And right from my early childhood days, this great and inspiring uncle of mine, Jaja Anucha Wachuku took much interest in me. During my high school and university years, I spent a lot of time with him. We had fun together:
Amongst numerous other things, Uncle Jaja used to tease me about one of the airconditioners in his country home at Nbawsi, Abia State, Nigeria. Whenever I slept in his big country home, sometimes, I would put on the airconditioner in my room, and he would jokingly say: "Ugonna does your father [his younger brother, my dad] have an airconditioner in his house? Put off that airconditioner, please." And I would tease him back and say: Leave me alone, Pa'm Jaja. I won't put it off. Is my dad not your younger brother? Why don't you buy an airconditioner for him? On and on we'd go, on-to other matters for good laughs. For those who never understood that side of uncle Jaja, they'd take offence. But I understood him very well enough to enjoy his teasing moments and play along.
My uncle passed on-to me worthy words of wisdom, spirit of servant leadership, compassion, humility, empathy, gratitude and love; including uplifting stories about the people of the United States of America and their kindness, care and love for him and our historic Wachuku family. He graciously allowed me to use his awesome library – a library that according to African Media Houses, to this day, is the biggest one-man owned library in West Africa. Right from then, based on the American lessons and tutorials my uncle imparted in me, my fascination and respect for the people of the United States of America began. Naturally then, I resolved within my deepest soul and being to cherish, encourage and uphold every American and their breathtakingly beautiful, vast land; as well as, importantly, those ideals and truth of liberty, freedom, peace, worth, respect for human dignity, purposeful living plus trust in God Almighty and All-Sufficient – that gave birth to their Union and Nation. Gladly, since then, coupled with my vast research and travels, my American Galaxy project has become reality.
It was wonderful and inspiringly joyful to have known Jaja Anucha Wachuku as my uncle. I thank GOD Almighty for the favour of having my paths cross his on this trying journey called life. In line with those who believe, I hope to see him again someday in that coming heavenly kingdom. These are the humble words I leave with you this day and always.
Thank you for reading my little thoughts on the deeply inspiring life of a great but humble human being called Jaja Anucha Wachuku. Keep well everyone. And GOD bless you all in the Red Room so much!
With love and very good wishes:
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