If the dead could actually return to life, Ugoeze Sally Nneme Kanu, wife of the traditional ruler of Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State, Eze Isaac Okwu Kanu and mother of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, would be able to appreciate the quantum of love her people had for her.
Again, if the spirit of the dead could see, Ugoeze Kanu would observe with equanimity, the wailing, weeping, gnashing of teeth, the uncommon mourning and quietude that have enveloped the entire Afaraukwu community since Saturday, October 19, when her death was made public by her son, Nnamdi. Indeed, it was like a thunderbolt from the blues.
Though Ugoeze Kanu referred to as Mama Afaraukwu died on August 30, in Lansberg Am Lech hospital near Munich in Bavaria, Germany after a protracted illness, announcing her demise on October 19 could be anything but shocking and devastating to the community.
It was as if she died a few seconds away. If the people of Afaraukwu should have their way, they would have loved the hands of the clock to strike back and their Ugoeze brought back to life.
The mood of the community was captured when Sunday Sun visited the area last Thursday.
Chief Chimechefulam Odoemelam, the traditional prime minister (Onowu) of Afaraukwu, said: “The death of Ugoeze Sally Kanu is very painful and unexpected at this very moment, we never expected she will died at this moment after all her efforts and contributions towards not only Afaraukwu, but also to the Biafran cause.
“Her death is just like a dream or film to us; the community is yet to come to terms that she is dead. It is still unbelievable that after all her efforts, she will not be there to witness the actualization of Biafra, but, we believe God, her spirit lives on”.
To Odoemelam, Ugoeze Kanu was not only wife of their traditional ruler, but also a loving mother, sister, peacemaker, a very unique woman quite different from other women. According to him, “she is mother of mothers. I have not seen any mother or any Ugoeze to compare with her; she is a very simple woman. No matter one’s background, you can wine and dine with her, she does not discriminate, she does not segregate and she sees everybody as equal”.
The painful death of Ugoeze Kanu is already taking its toll on the community that it is no longer a question of if the community was going to miss her, the people have already started missing her.
“We have already started missing her because presently there is crying, weeping and wailing in the land.
“Anybody from the community, who hears about her death, finds it too difficult to believe. The community will soon announce the days of mourning for her, but that will be after consultation with the family”, the traditional Prime Minister said.
Odoemelam disclosed that going by the place of the Ugoeze in society, there would be traditional rites during her burial, but he kept that close to his chest, promising to make the form and shape public at the appropriate time.
The youth leader of Afaraukwu, Alozie Irokansi in driving home the mood of the youths in the community went philosophical. He said dying was not a new thing to the community just like any other part of the world, saying “people have been dying, but this is one death too many; it is a very big shock to us, but we cannot question God”.
Irokansi said that the youths are on the same page with the community leaders and the Kanu family over the burial arrangement, promising a very peaceful burial for their Ugoeze. “She was mother to all youths in the community, she was generous, we will continue to remember her every passing day.
“During the burial, no youth will cause problem in the area, the woman represented peace in Afaraukwu while alive and even the husband, he is an epitome of peace, therefore, nobody will attempt to cause trouble in Afaraukwu during the burial”, the youth leader assured.
Despite the community’s good to go posture in terms of preparations for the burial, Nnamdi’s younger brother, Emma said that preparations for the burial have not started.
When the question was put to him, he snapped back, “No, not at the moment, we are still mourning, receiving visitors”.
The palace has changed from what it used to be, it is in sober mood just like any other place in Afaraukwu and Emma confirmed this.
“Everywhere is in a sober mood, whoever walks into this compound, leaves here with tears. So, that is the level of shock we are dealing with at the moment. Before, people come into this palace with joy, but now people come in with eyes filled with tears,” he said.
For him, the palace and Afaraukwu would not be the same without their matriarch.
“Definitely, it won’t be like before to be honest with you, it won’t be like before. We’ve missed her, we’ve missed her, we’ve lost, it won’t be like before. Well, such is life, after the tears comes joy as well”, he consoled himself.
On the big question whether the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu will come home for the burial of his mother which is slated before Christmas, Emma said, “we’ve not even had time to discuss about that, to be honest with you; it’s lest of what we are discussing at the moment. But one thing is certain, that Ugoeze must be given a befitting burial whether or not Nnamdi is here, that’s the position of everyone as well. We’ve not talked about his coming or not coming home.
Emma was not forth coming on the type of burial to expect, whether it will be low keyed or on top of the roof event. “I’m not in a position to say that, I don’t even know what to expect”, he said.
He, however, assured that their father was doing well, saying that “he is trying to deal with the shock at the moment, and you know it’s not easy. My mother is a peaceful woman and her burial will be most peaceful”.
The IPOB leader accused the military of being responsible for the death of his mother by reason of the army invasion of their home in 2017 and the family’s perception about the operation has not changed and Emma repeated this claim. “Whether or not they call it peace operation, it’s their business. Operation Python Dance remains Operation Python Dance, that’s what it is. It is very painful because Southeast remains a very peaceful region, I do not know why they are bringing army and the rest of them to the region whereas in the North where they have chaos and problems, they are not seen there. My advice is for them to proceed to the North and deal with the insurgency as a matter of fact, but not down here in the Southern region.