Celebrating Osondu: The Good Man of Amesi
Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
It was the classic celebration of life for a worthy man. Ichie (Sir) Cyprian Onyemeke Osondu who passed away at the grand age of 92 was indeed a great man of honour and dignity. Widely revered as Ezeudoka of Amesi, Osondu was a quintessential apostle of peace. Born in 1928 as the third son of the Osondu family of Amesi town, Aguata LGA, Anambra State, he passed his Standard Six examination in flying colours in 1943 but when he went to get a teaching appointment in Adazi town the manager-in-charge thought that he had come to seek for admission into the Infant Two class!
He had to make a detour to Urualla town in present-day Imo State to get the teaching job. After his sterling teaching, he was selected to undergo a four-year course in the prestigious St. Charles College, Onitsha. He miraculously passed the examination even as he was quarantined for contracting a contagious disease. He then became a celebrated headmaster, spreading knowledge across the then Eastern Region. He passed out in first class from the Diploma Course at Rural Education Centre, Umudike Umuahia. Osondu got married to the love of his life, Miss Helen Okolo, who was then the Headmistress of Akokwa Girls School.
The marriage became blessed with three surviving sons, namely, Jude, Emeka and Aquinas. He got admission in 1963 to study Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Upon graduation in 1966, he was posted to the Ministry of Finance in Enugu. When the Biafra War broke out, he received the assignment to go to Calabar to cover the war. He spent two weeks in Calabar only to learn that the town had fallen to the Nigerian soldiers.
After the war, he served as an Assistant Division Officer (ADO). He rose to become a Divisional Officer (DO). He undertook the onerous task of pacifying the warring communities of Aguleri and Umuleri as the DO before he was transferred to the Enugu Divisional Administration Department (DAD). He worked at the Health Management Board and eventually retired from service at the State Education Commission, Enugu. In this day and age when ill-assorted characters of dubious means and ends are grotesquely celebrated, Ichie (Sir) Cyprian Onyemeke Osondu (JP, KSM) truly represents the good life worthy of celebration.
A Fourth Degree Knight of the Catholic Church, his word was his bond. Let’s end with these words from the great man: “Before my first birthday, I walked into a bowl containing the hot juice of bread fruit. I cried loudly and my mother who was in the room frantically rushed to me and pulled out the hand that was in the bowl, and not knowing the serious nature of the burn handled my hand and the skin peeled off. It was a serious burn which could have destroyed the hand and the fingers especially during the time it happened in 1929. Everybody thought that the hand was gone, and my young life would follow the hand.
Luckily by the divine mercy of God, the native treatment applied yielded good results and after a few months, the wound healed. Surprisingly, no finger was lost but the burn left a large scar at the centre part which looks like a gold wristwatch.”