Spread the love

“You showed me a lot of things.
I learned a lot I didn’t know,
But you forgot to teach me one last thing –
How to let you go” – Tyra

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in September of 1984. I was still basking in the euphoria of having successfully surmounted the hurdle of the almighty West African School Certificate Examination, whose results had just been released. The news of my “feat”, having recorded 100% excellent grades in the eight subjects I sat for in the WAEC exams was still fresh in the air in my home community of Idheze in Isoko South LGA of Delta State.
The young man sauntered into my maternal grandfather’s compound to deliver the message. It was short and sharp. “Block, (referring to Uncle Nath Elebe, that was the name everybody knew him then) said you should come immediately!
He was one of the lights of Idheze at that time, being one of the very few that made it to the University. He did not only make it to the University, he studied Engineering in the United States of America. So for most of us, he was almost like a god.
You can therefore imagine the elation and sense of pride to hear that the “great Nath Elebe” wants to see me.
I left everything I was doing and followed the emissary. A couple of my cousins, curious to know what could have warranted this privileged invitation followed me. And in less than five minutes, we were in Dr. Willy Elebe’s (Nath’s father) expansive compound.
And there he was. In his vivacious and effable self, exchanging banters and pleasantries with everyone. His smile that lights up any dark room dancing around his lips. His signature bald head was unmistakable. The bald head itself was part of the legend of Nath Elebe. It was generally believed that he became bald because he has too much intelligence.
As soon as he saw me, he beckoned on me to come straight to him, stretching his hand for a congratulatory handshake to me. He said he has just been told of my feat in the just released WASC results and he was charging me right way to proceed to a good University and get my degree.
“I don’t want to hear that you went to Lagos to go and work in any hotel”, he warned. Anybody familiar with the trend in Idheze at that time would understand what he meant by that statement. It was common place for young Idheze sons who had completed their secondary school education at that time to migrate to Lagos in search of the Golden Fleece only to end up as Bar tenders and such other sundry workers in hotels in Apapa,
Uncle Nath would not have me sucked into that trap.
He explained that so many of Idheze sons’ destinies were truncated by that habit because according to him, “the moment they start earning money, they would no longer think of furthering their education and before you know it, they will be married and start having children in a one room apartment”
The story above was the beginning of a long mentoring relationship with Engineer Nath Elebe who left us to join the Saints triumphant few days ago.
I would later go on to secure admission into the University of Benin, graduating with top honors and building a career of almost three decades, spanning Journalism and Oil and Gas. And at every stage along the way, he was there to guide and advice. When I run into rough waters of life, I will call and he would ever be ready to listen.
He was unruffled no matter the severity of the problem at hand. He would admonish you to put all your trust in God as he alone has the solution to every problem. His faith and trust in God was unparalleled.
Having fought some tough life battles himself in his eventful sojourn on earth, Nath was the best person to run to in times of crisis, be it career, domestic, spiritual or health wise. There was an uncommon equanimity about him towards life.
He tasked me to join him to provide opportunities for the indigent students in our home town to give them access to education. While he concentrated in the primary school, supplying them with books, uniforms and other facilities on a yearly basis, he encouraged me to do whatever I could to support the secondary school. And when he heard that I had undertaken to pay the WAEC fees of the final year students of Idheze Grammar School, he called not only to appreciate me but to pray for me.
He was a good man. He was my role model.
I have lost a mentor and an adviser. Idheze has lost a pillar and a philanthropist.
Adieu Engineer Nath Elebe!!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.