Friday, 11th March, our brother and friend, one of Nigeria’s most accomplished travel journalist, Emeka Anokwuru, was interred in his Imo State country home, never to write again about our country and people he gave all while here on mother earth.
Anokwuru was bold and fearless, accommodating and humble beyond measure. He loved people, especially the cultural tourism people. He was French in culinary offerings, loves the kitchen and good food. Everywhere was home to him and like child even though he was an adult, he hardly gets into a fight and was not complicated.
To the beat associations, Association of Nigerian Travel journalists(ANJET) and League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents(LAAC), Emeka Anokwuru gave all. To industry institutions, there were no excuses to his attendance to their needs and actions plans. He was ” Mr sacrifice”, a flag he bore with fortitude and strength for nation and his family.
He loved his children, particularly his only daughter whom he gave all. He would travel at each school resumption time to New Bussa, Niger state where she schools at federal government girls college. The poor little girl won’t enjoy the luxury protection, a dotting father once offered.
Nigeria tourism community won’t forever witness the deep laughter Anokwuru offered at its gatherings again. Emeka has signed out from the industry’s nignts of long knives and treachery.
He won’t be bothered with many failed promises of the Ministry of Information and Culture. He won’t hear Lai Mohammed tell us how many thousands of jobs that would be created from contrived tourism projects, Emeka won’t need to review the many deceptions of government industry parastatals and their pharaohiac leaders.
At the right hand of God, our dear Emeka will now see through the Ministry and the deceptive Directors for whom they truly are! He must be grateful that they were not at his graveside, to prosper lying monologues of how they loved him. Emeka must thank God that a Ministry to which he laboured to serve and Even protect its failings, did not put out obituary signposts in his honour.
The Ministry with its avant garde ministering power over Nigerian Television Authority, Radio Nigeria, News Agency of Nigeria, and the rottweiler hold over the Nigerian media architecture, did not announce to us the passage of this great tourism activist and General. He died unsung, and unappreciated by a nation and a ministry at the front of change begins with us.
Emeka could have lived, and knowing the industry which celebrates hypocrisy with cymbals of ingratitude, he bore his pains alone. He resorted to self help knowing if he sought our help, we would mock his needs and abuse his integrity.
That is how we roll in this Godforsaken sector where dogs eat dogs, where those who claims to be rich are indeed, very poor themselves. In this sector, journalists on the beat gives all and the poor rich practitioners gave nothing.
Anokwuru belonged to Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria(FTAN) once a council member and yet belonged to nobody. They sat at tea in Abuja on the eve of his burial, and made a telling statement to the living that only Christ is our friend. Association of Tourist Boat Operators(ATBOWATON), National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies(NANTA), Nigerian Tour Operators , Nigeria Youth Tourism Association, Car Hire Services Association, Hotel and Hospitality Association, Nigeria Hotel and Catering Institute, Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria and other invisible principalities bodies, non rose in remembrance of this great uncommon journalist at his intermittent. No representation, no thoughtfulness!
And because of what you would ask? Emeka was not their kind but was rich in serving. He was poor and had been “used and dumped”. The traducers of his earthly situation forgets that the poor are friends of God. They may have treated his death and burial with disdain but the angels took him home.
Our Parastatals, nine in all did not also honour him with a pull out from service. Emeka Anokwuru, was a tourism General. And if we dare make public the very underserved “church rat” contributions which few did, you would understand why God will never accept the prayers of forgiveness of our leaders.
There were no representations at his grave side, no orations, nothing except for Mrs Ibe of NTDC, that virtuous woman, who came all the way from Enugu to honour this great tourism general. So where were others, those who called Emeka out of bed when he was here, those who engaged him to fight their wars, those who promised him a better life but ended impoverishing him and mocked him as was not deserving of their wealth and prosperity. What did they do?
Off course life goes on but will the tourism journalists ever learn? Would they ever find time to go to hospitals and do check ups,? would they ever know that those who preach change, are oppressors? , would they ever learn that those who are appointed and hold the industry in trust, does not reckon with them? that government money in their hands are for them and their families alone to enjoy better life while journalists like Elder prowl about town on “leggedisbenz”, preaching on roof tops, telling the world that Nigeria is a destination.
Emeka was part of the Nigerian destination trajectory yet at death, we failed beyond measure to make his place of birth, a place where he was buried a destination. Oh dear!
To those who will carry around this piece, seeking favour in misinterpretion, I fear no foe. The Truth sets us free to souls that seeks knowledge and forgiveness. Those are who matter in the introspection of how we failed a brother at death, will understand this pain! Why must the heathen rage? Who cares?
The truth remains, let us be well doing to those in need of help when they are alive and not clamour to raise money that embarrassingly can’t pay for a good coffin when our people are called to glory. This industry deserves to celebrate the living, to respect journalists without which there will be no industry or destination.
Who would write your own epitaph and your times in the sand of time? Elder Emeka Anokwuru was a scribe and he left works that cannot be erased by our heartlessness and lack of compassion. Emeka left us a wife and daughter without roof over their heads. Pathetic?
I won’t end this piece without gratitude to Otunba Segun Runsewe, who did what was necessary to save Anokwuru from untimely death. Like Runsewe or hate him, he has shown faith to the Nigerian travel media family at their most trying times. Am very sure, Emeka and his family including ANJET wont forget. Adio my brother!
* Frank Meke, a Media and Tourism Consultant based in Lagos.