Thursday, April 15th, 2021 was a day of solemn reflection, tributes, and fond memories as family, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers of Kamsi Okonkwo gathered to pay their last respects to the rising leader who recently died at the age of 23.
Kamsi, who until his death, was one of the youth leaders in the Valentine Ozigbo gubernatorial Campaign Organisation and also an important media aide to the man. He was laid to rest after a series of ceremonies that began with a funeral mass led by Rev Fr Professor BAC Obiefuna alongside 15 other priests at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Nibo.
I find it quite disturbing and practically hard to write about Kamsi. I subdued a lot, and struggled to manage my emotions while writing about the young lad. For the first time in God knows when, I dared to question God. I dared to state that if He be God, He wouldn’t want to allow any evil to happen to His child, in this case, an ONLY CHILD.
The story of Kamsi is quite a touching one. Sadly, it’s as true as they come. Kamsi, from early childhood was destined for greatness. This young boy, I knew, watched and followed right from the cradle to now. He’s of the habit of reaching out, asking questions and sourcing for advanced guidance and tutelage.
It’s the story of a promising young man whom the cold hands of death, so wickedly snuffed life out of him, in such a bizarre, hurtful and dehumanizing way. Kamsi’s death was one which came with this unimaginable cum excruciating pain, anguish and more. It’s such a death which was undeserving of his person. It’s one we shouldn’t even wish our enemies, sadly, it befell a classic gentleman.
The name Kamsiyochukwu is such a unique one. It didn’t just happen; it was given to him in resonance to accepting that indeed, his birth was a testament that how we pleaded on God, He answered – Kamsiyochukwu!
Indeed, no other name would’ve been more suiting than Kamsiyochukwu. Why?
He’s an only child born after 15years of his parents marriage. Undeniably, 15years is a long wait for whosoever or by whatsoever standards we dare judge it. It takes endurance, perseverance, faith, trust and genuine love for any coupe to remain bounded together in love, patiently waiting till the end.
It was from Infant Jesus Nursery/Primary, School, Awka, then to Tansi International College, Awka and to Anambra State University, later renamed Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University. My kid brother and I passed through same institutions, except for university. Even though that I was well his senior all through, Kamsi and I shared the same alma mater till his demise.
At the mission-owned secondary school, Tansi International College, Awka, for his distinctiveness, he was made the Senior Prefect, and later at the university, he was again the President of his Department of Political Science. Until his demise, he was the student leader of Valentine Ozigbo’s political frontiers.
Kamsi who was barely 23 years and graduated last month from the university was involved in a ghastly road accident involving a Dangote cement trailer fully loaded, around 9th mile corner in Enugu. The trailer lost control and ran various cars over, emptying its contents right above his car.
A bag of cement is for 50kg. A trailer when fully loaded, carries as much as 900 bags X 50kg each which sums it up to 45,000kg. The trailer itself should weigh within the region of same about 45,000kg. Yet, with merely a shelter of a wrecked car, 90,000kg weight for the 900bags of cement and the trailer itself, were heaped on him.
At that lowest moment, in anguish and pain, we learnt he endured still, he fought-on and persisted, crying for help; waited with hope for a miracle. Ofcourse, many volunteers began lifting off the bags of cement from the wreckage. While they did, time was of the essence. The pace of manual labor wasn’t gonna be enough. There need a motorized means to save the situation. None came!
In sad turns of events, as it has become usual in Nigeria, no help came from men of Nigeria’s Road Safety. Infact, we learnt that when they were reached out to, on a distress call, they responded that their crane would not be able to lift the trailer off the wrecked vehicles.
It was the crane gotten from the Nigerian Breweries that was used to lift off the fallen trailer. Sadly, by then, Kamsi having endured over six hours right under that load. He had also long drawn his last breath.
We may feign ignorant and choose to accuse the devil for the cold hands of death that snatched Kamsi away from us; but more pointedly, we should hold our grudges right at a bad system, a failed political leadership, an unserious Government and also, at Dangote Groups.
When I first got the news, I was shocked to the marrows. I prayed that a miracle happened. Under the cover of darkness, I wished there was a means. I prayed for a miraculous intervention. I got a second call, requesting that we leave for Enugu same night at about 11pm to see what we can do. The caller persisted that we must leave for Enugu.
On the 14th of April, We were at Kamsi’s home at Nibo, participating in a vigil mass which was led by the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most. Rev. Dr. Paulinus Ezeokafor. The Catholic Bishop admonished the family never to relent in trusting God and accepting that indeed, what God doesn’t approve of, never happens.
After the mass came night of tears, tributes and candle night which was for procession, and led into the midnight. At Regina Caeli Hospital, throngs of individuals came to join in the motorcade that took his remains back home to Nibo. At his father’s house, there was lying in state, followed by the recitation of the Holy Rosary, more importantly because he was a proud Marian devotee.
His remains was later taken to St. Theresa’s Catholic Parish, Nibo for requiem mass. The mass was led by Very. Rev. Fr. Prof. B. A. C. Obiefuna, a university Don and former Priest in residence there who served at the parish about thesame year when Kamsi was born. It was a sober Eucharistic celebration. Rev. Fr. Atansi who delivered the homily gave a message of reassurance and of hope. His homily touched virtually all circles and went deep to the soul.
Kamsi was buried at his father’s compound amidst tears. May I use this singular medium to appreciate everyone who played any role at all towards the success of that burial/funeral. The burial mass had over a dozen Catholic Priests and roughly about 1500 persons in attendance.
May his soul Rest In Peace.