SUNDAY OKWUONE (1936-2020): TRIBUTE TO A QUINTESSENTIAL COMMUNITY LEADER
By Anthony Awunor
Pa Sunday Okwuone, during his lifetime was a man of many parts: altruist, leader, philanthropist, motivator and above all God fearing.
The Idumubo elder is a contemplative man by nature and he took family, business, and community to the heart of his existence.
I grew up studying late Pa Sunday Okwuone closely. As much as I can recollect, Sunday has always demonstrated a personality with strong integrity in all he does.
Going by family history, the Okwuone, ab intio was noted for brilliancy, hence the emergence of great and intelligent Sunday who happened to be the scion of the famous family. Honestly, his fame laced with enormous achievements were not a surprise to most of us.
Brought up under the care of a woman, Sunday did not show traces of a spoilt child, even though, it is popularly believed that children trained by women are always wayward. This man changed all that narrative. He came, saw and conquered.
Late Okwuone could not have been said to experience poverty and penury since his mother was very hardworking, a trait that his son copied early in life without much ado.
In line with the usual inexplicable existential complexities, Sunday, after his primary education unconsciously opted to venture into business as if he had a premonition that God would give him immeasurable success in business.
Through a dint of hardwork and focus in business, he was able to build a befitting house for himself and also trained his numerous children adequately.
Ironically, Sunday started life as a traditionalist even though he was blessed with a Christian name. At a very tender age, the mother had initiated him into the “Izu Dibia” fraternity. “Izu Dibia” is a conclave established exclusively for powerful traditional medicine men in the town. All the adherents were feared greatly by other members of the society.
Stories were told that, the mother deliberately encouraged young Sunday, who was an only son to join the fold, so that he could grow rapidly into a well respected and strong man.
And Sunday’s membership of the fold paid off. As far as I can remember, the late man was one of the most respected personality in his enclave, Idumuogboli at Ubulu-Uku in Aniocha South LGA of Delta State. It came to a point that his expansive house was turned into a “court” of somesorts where all manners of disputes were settled amicably. Thanks to Sunday Okwuone’s wisdom.
Until he died at age 84 on the 3rd of November, 2020, the farmer and businessman of repute had remained a reference point when real men were mentioned.
Despite his affiliation to the African Traditional Religion, Sunday, later in life gave his life to Christ and was until his death, a Christian Father at St Charles Boromeo Catholic Church, Ubulu-Uku. The consuming zeal led him to explore more knowledge of God by attending both morning Mass and Sunday services regularly.
To say that he was a model when it comes to integrity is merely saying the obvious as he had never been found wanting in telling the truth, no matter whose ox is gored. He never tried to turn truth upside down. His yes was yes and his no remained no.
Although, he has passed on, Pa Okwuone would be most remembered for the unique role he single-handedly played on the issue of peaceful mediation during community squabbles amongst families.
His involvement, support and backup to the “Eze Iwu Nne Ubulu”, late Okolie Okwuokei during the annual Iwu Festivals can never be forgotten.
He was also instrumental to the political development of Idumuogboli and by extension, Idumubo village. His deep involvement in politics as a chapter leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has put the community at the political landscape.
He will also be equally remembered for his uprightness and his efforts in community development activities, particularly amongst his kinsmen.
Chicago as he was fondly called is survived by wife, children, among whom are Ozulu, Ifeanyi, Isioma, Raymond, Benjamin, Peter amongst other members of the family.
__Awunor, a multiple award-winning journalist writes from Lagos