Nnamdi Ugwuanyi: This father and brother rolled into one, not dead but alive

Nnamdi 'Unkl' Ugwuanyi

Mr. Unkl, I deliberately delayed writing this elegy until exactly seven days after I learnt of your death, by which time it dawned on me that you have actually gone to be with your creator. I can’t get myself to speak about you in the past tense. How did I get to this sorry pass where I was robbed of a father-figure with whom I can discuss anything and everything? But that is even being too fast.

I grew up beholding you as a mentor, and you lived up to my expectations. I dare say that you were key to my urbane disposition and worldview as well as my growing into the gentleman that I am today. For instance, I’ve got commendations for my dress-sense but they don’t know it was because I was groomed by a power dresser like you.

On a more serious note, you easily filled the void created in me by the demise of our father whose unfortunate passing happened when I was just 12. You were my go-to person ever since and you indeed had answers to all I needed to know in becoming a man. You even influenced the kind of movies we watched and the songs we listened to. I am today a fan of Rock music because of you, with Coldplay to boot.

I remember that when we returned home for the last Christmas – me from Abuja and you from Lagos – it so happened that we both had Coldplay’s Army of One hit track as the ringtone of our phones. Upon discovering this, you wasted no time in changing your ringtone to something else for me to retain the song we both love so much. That’s Nnamdi for you.

Perhaps, my being an introvert to the outside world in my formative years was because of the friendship and relationship I have with you and Ejike, which was enough for me, being a modest person by nature. I remember how if any of us was sick, we will lie in the same bed till he heals. So pure and true was our affection that there was seldom a case of the malaria being transmitted to any of us, despite the risk of being in the same bed with the sick all day.

I’m so sorry I wasn’t in Lagos to be by your side for the one day you were terribly sick. Ah! tears just won’t allow me write this but for you it must be written; not even this sore sorrow I feel will prevent me from marshalling out my fond memories of you.

You and Ejike became my two best friends in the whole world such that I usually yelp during our many banters and plays while we were living at Agbo Street that “I have two brothers who make me laugh every day”. Nnamdi, right from when you were still in secondary school, you always referred to me as “my boy” and I was proud to be exactly that; I kept looking up to and learning from you because you were a star and an encyclopedia of knowledge. You were even a handyman.

You understood my kind of person early enough and encouraged me along the path and career you were convinced was meant to me. Unkl, again I dare say that you made me not to sorely miss losing my father so early in life. To this extent, you lived up to the ‘Nna’ in your name. Papa (God rest his soul) was indeed prescient to have named you Nnamdi.

As the peacemaker that you were, you mediated whenever teenage exuberance made me go out of line or caused me to have issues with any of our siblings; you always maintained the delicate balance in our family and played roles which people twice your age couldn’t have executed in their homes.

Even up till when I was in the university, you kept calling me “my boy”. To be honest, there were times I rued such appellation as demeaning particularly as you singled me out to be so called. But I remained happy to by your boy because I was actually under your tutelage and had a lot to learn from you.

Between, why should I fault you for calling me “my boy” when your peers and seniors, high and mighty call you “Uncle”? That wasn’t just a nickname but was informed by the immense impact you made in people’s lives. I’m not sure you told anybody to call you “Uncle” but they just did. This was the major inspiration that led me to declare on Facebook that you live on, that very sad January 16 that you died.

I remember that as recent as December 2018 when I transferred a sum to your bank account as support for your marriage introduction rite, you called and ended by saying “thank you, my boy”. This was even though, you had long before then graduated me to “young man”.

Though you have now transited to glory, my joy is that all through the last Christmas and New Year season we spent together in the village, you didn’t call me “my boy” but usually addressed me as “young man”. When I ponder on these things and the way you departed, I realise that you’ve actually finished your work in me. Therefore, with youthful vigour will I carry on all that I learnt as your boy.

Space constraint won’t allow me freely express how I feel about you and your unfortunate death but I know you fought to be alive but it pleased the Almighty to call you home at this time. Please, be assured that your legacies, particularly in me, will linger and I will find a way to immortalise you, God willing. I kinda love your adopted name: “Kings”.

I don’t take it for granted that on the night of January 2, 2019 when we were about going for the ‘Ojoese’ of your fiancée, it was me that you found worthy to hold the dowry for you. My father and brother, may God be with you while I work with all you have taught me pending when we’ll meet to part no more. Nna, you lived and still lives, thus death is the loser here.

So long!

Your son, Ugo.


  1. Chai, this is very sad. May god console you all. My heart goes out to your mum, and the bride that never was. God is is own interpreter and He will make it clear to us in the rend. Nnamdi sleeps!!!

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