By the 1980s, Chief Sab Okwara Okoye was already too established in property terms to be a student activist himself but his son, Festus Okoye, was. The younger Okoye was literally abducted from Jos, taken to the Kano convention of the National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS) and (s)elected as the Secretary-General. Then the elder Okoye was called on the phone and given the ‘sad’ news. He was one of those who had a landline in the house in those days.
But he took it with equanimity and, as time went on, he not only knew all the senior student union activists under the umbrella of NANS by their names, his house also became where these combatants went to make telephone calls, leaving one message or another for cadres spread across the universities and collecting responses the same way through one of the children. Intervention’s information is that he did not try to discourage them beyond insisting that as they went on with their radical nationalism, the academic side of their being in the university must not suffer.
Chief Sab Okoye must have been a happy man at death. Not only did his son finish his tenure as Sec-Gen of NANS, he graduated and has been a lawyer since the late 1980s. But, more than that, most of the kid comrades that went to make calls are now their own men: husbands, wives and parents. He saw their rise from angry youths staging street actions across Nigeria to becoming stake holders in the Nigerian project in diverse ways. Time and meaning!
So, here is another class of what the Bible says about a time for everything: a time to be a facilitator of radical student politics and a time to die. Chief Sab Okoye is dead and is going to his fore fathers. The family has settled on April 5th, 2018 to do this at Umudim, Ihioma in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State. But why in Umudim and not Jos where he lived all his life? When Intervention put this question to a Professor of African Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, it got the following reply:
“I think the anthropological explanation is related to the community instinct. The human group does not comprise only the living but the living, the dead, and perhaps the unborn. Burial is a moment of re-enactment of this group consciousness”.
This is then why all roads lead to Ihioma for the diverse community of mourners associated with his own communal, political, peace, business, philanthropic and soccer involvements as well as those of his children, particularly the student cadres who used to go and phone in those days to lawyers, human rights activists and politicians. At 85 anywhere in Africa, death is no longer a case of mourning but of celebration of life after life! May God grant him eternal rest!