I can now posit that Father Tagbo – as his students addressed him – had a reputation that outstripped his schools’. Tales of him did flow to as farther away as St Peter’s Achina – some forty odd miles away – where yours truly was posted by choice. Of course, many there were who ended up there from Onitsha. They would never let those of us who had never ventured that far be.
Isidore Emeka Uzoatu
The life, times, death and burial of Rev. Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo (1929-2016) have all come and gone. What variously abides with us still is the indubitable footprint he left behind. Luckily, these are of the type that should not be let interred with his bones. For though nary a banquet copes with water being converted to wine in this new-age world that we presently live in, it goes without saying that traces of miracles can yet be deciphered from lived lives. Such as that lived by the beloved man of God in question, I dare say.
Without any iota of equivocation, it is in lives such as he lived that the future of our species depends.
Like had been touted in many an eulogy to him, the first indigenous principal of Christ the King College (CKC) Onitsha lived almost the entirety of his life here on earth for others. A soldier in an army, he was not, but not unlike them in tales we had read, he gave away his yesterday for the tomorrow of others. Like modern history would want us do, it would not be hard to go back to the records to retrace the number of students that passed through his tutelage. But that would defeat the aim for, though umpteen obviously did so, he never targeted any record books in the effort.
Now, I must confess that I am only sparing this effort because I cannot to be counted in that number. Though I would have wished it otherwise, it does go that in our youthful days you only took the Common Entrance Examinations into secondary schools and ended up wherever you were posted. Given that then education was mostly free, for a school to be targeted by all carried a responsibility with it. Mostly, this had to rest on the shoulders of the head of the school. It was on record, for instance, that back then, unless you were buoyed by exceptionally long legs, you only made it into schools like CKC on merit.
Self explanation done with, I can now posit that Father Tagbo – as his students addressed him – had a reputation that outstripped his schools’. Tales of him did flow to as farther away as St Peter’s Achina – some forty odd miles away – where yours truly was posted by choice. Of course, many there were who ended up there from Onitsha. They would never let those of us who had never ventured that far be. What with their endless tales about this glorious school over there that had this glorious principal – a reverend father to booth.
Now, our own dear principal at the time – a certain Mr Nweze – was not doing badly at all, I must say. Yet we were often left pondering at the immensity of this Midas touch possessed by this other principal in soutane. This was however resolved for me personally following the Dimka coup at the time. Like it happened, when the coup was foiled, the fleeing coup plotter as he ran did not find any other number to affix to the Renault car he was escaping with but that of my own principal!
Anyway, as Mr Nweze is yet living, I will leave his eulogy for another day. But suffice it to note that my later sojourns to CKC on holidays did help in balancing out the odds wherever they applied. To bring you up to speed to the tale, back then, my now late maternal uncle Mr J. O. Aginam was a teacher at CKC. This often had me taking over the school as soon as the bona fide students left for their own holidays at the end of each term. I was also to make many bosom friends from among the students; friends too numerous to recount, that I still maintain to this day.
Aptly, this serves to return us to where we started – miracles. Yes, the better publicised make up between an erstwhile governor and his predecessor is not the first miracle wrought by Father Tagbo. The first and more abiding one was achieved while he yet trod terra firma via the reformation of some of these my friends that attended CKC. Much as they may not like to read of this, I cannot but add that were it not for the good works of the reverend gentleman most of them would have become that which they ended up not becoming. And knowing them that well, it would not have been in the best interest of the society. Adieu, man of God; say me hi to my uncle.
*Uzoatu is the author of the novel Vision Impossible.