This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Event of August 29, 2002. That Fateful Day.

August 29, 2002
The list book. It was still sitting on the side stool. The list book. The one I placed beside my dad’s favorite chair. It was still there. It had moved slightly in position. So he had seen it. If so, then he must’ve left money inside. I grabbed the book and flipped the pages. No money. So I stormed towards my parent’s bedroom, dragging my 14 year old body along with me.
As I neared the door, it swung open, the weight of the sling crying as if to notify me that the king was coming out.  My Daddy emerged in his work pants and a blue singlet (tank) I hadn’t seen before. But I ignored it.
Him: Morning!
Me: Good Morning Daddy
Him: You didn’t even compliment my new singlet. How does it look? Your brother bought it for me.
He was beaming proudly in an incredibly jovial attitude.

I took a mental note to tell my big brother Uzo to buy Daddy more singlets. Then, I continued.
Me: Yea Daddy its nice
It really was nice but The list. That’s what was on my mind.
He grabbed his ritual morning pawpaw juice and headed back into the room. I followed.  Mommy had just finished packing a suitcase for his trip to Zimbabwe the next day where he was to receive some Publisher’s award.
Mom: Choko, are you ready? If you’re not, the driver can drop you off later. Because I’m running late to my workshop.
She was referring to her dropping me off at the French class I had spent the summer taking. I really didn’t understand why my parents didn’t buy me a ticket to the U.S. for summer vacation like I’d become accustomed to. After all, my mom was spending the summer there with my older siblings; why couldn’t I just go with her?
This particular summer, my dad had insisted I spend the summer with him while my mom was away in the U.S. and attend French classes. I was furious but I survived the summer. In fact, I enjoyed the summer I spent with my daddy. My hero. We had a lot of good conversations that summer....the knowledge he impacted on me, I could never forget. Mommy had gone to the U.S. and come back. Summer was over. Now, my focus had turned to starting S.S. 2 (11th grade) in a few days. 
Me: I am ready Mommy. But I have something to bug daddy about.
I turned to him.
Daddy, I’m going back to school in two days and you haven’t even given me money for my provisions but I see you have seen the list.
He laughed. Like only him could.
Him: Don’t worry. When I get back from work, we’ll look at it together. Wait up for me. Don’t worry.
Me: Hmmmm Mommy you have heard him. Daddy, I’ll hold you to your word o.
They both laughed.
Mommy: Ngwa let’s go.
Me: Bye Daddy
Him: Bye
No hugs. Mommy and I just hurried out the door, down the steps and into the car.
My day was ordinary. Nothing special happened. Scratch that. My day “seemed” ordinary. Daddy wasn’t able to pick me up after lesson because he was busy preparing for his trip the next day. He sent the driver instead.
I was starting to feel sleepy but determined to wait up for Daddy like we agreed, I refused to give in to nature’s beckon. I wasn’t going to let my daddy come home and go to bed without getting the money I needed.
As Mommy and my aunt settled in the living room to watch the 9pm NTA news and my younger siblings climbed into their bed for the night, I tried to keep busy, to stay awake. I listened to music and packed a bit for school.
I had just strolled past the parlor in another attempt to stay awake. When I walked back into my room…….
*Gunshots* It was coming from outside.
*Screams* Those were coming from inside. The parlor.
I did the first thing I saw in American movies. I lay down on the floor.
About 50 seconds passed.
Then it was over. Just like it started. I was in disbelief. Our street was one of the safest in the town. This is the first time, anything out of the ordinary happened. In fact, this was the first time, I had heard live gunshots in my life.
My mom ran to me.
Mom: Baby, are you okay?
Me: Yes Mommy
Mom: Please call your dad. He's at your Uncle’s Arthur’s. Tell him people are shooting on our street and to just spend the night there.
I hurriedly ran to the black house phone.
2 minutes later.
Me: Mommy, Uncle said Daddy already left o.
Everyone laid on the floor again.
*Tires screeching as a car drove away*
When it was over, Mommy didn’t say anything. She just rushed to her cell phone and started dialing my dad’s cell phone.
Mom: I’ll try his MTN. Try the Nitel okay?
Me: Okay.
I obediently and fervently dialed my dad’s phones as I was told.
My hero didn’t pick any of his cell phones that night. I worried because my dad picked my mom’s calls regardless of where he was.
10 minutes later, my mom called out to the gateman Elisha to ask what happened. 

He said "Madam, policemen came and released shots and left". 

Another quiet 10 minutes passed. 

Then the neighbor called to say he saw someone lying in front of our gate. 

My mom then called out to Elisha again to ask if he could see anyone through his window. He looked out the window and said he saw a skinny and light-skinned person lying there. We asked what he was wearing. He said white.
My dad isn’t light skinned. So we stopped worrying that he was involved at all. Instead, we worried that it was someone who needed help.
Then, my mom called her older brother who said he just spoke to my dad and that he was on his way home. He also advised that we go help whoever was out there while he tried to call my dad’s cell phones. We decided it was best to go together.
It was myself, my mom, my aunt and my maternal grandma who walked outside.
I rushed ahead of everyone else. As soon as I stepped outside the gate, I spotted the shoe.
The shoe. My dad had one like that.
I held it up and screamed "Mommy, daddy's shoe!" to my mom who was directly behind me. 

Then I put it down quickly convincing myself it couldn’t be his. 

After all, he couldn’t own the only pair in the world.

My mom ran back to the garage to pull out the car to transport "whoever it was" to the hospital while I walked closer, throwing caution to the wind; my 14 year old mind had given way to a more mature curious mind. I just wanted to know who it was. I’m lying; I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t my beloved.
When I reached him, I screamed. I jolted him. I begged him to wake up. 

but I didn't cry. 

I couldn't cry. 

I just tugged on him and asked him to tell me what happened. I told him not to go like this. I told him he couldn't go like this. His cell phone was in his bloody hands. He must have been trying to pick up my mom’s calls- Like we trusted he always did.
My grandma and aunt walked up to me and saw what I saw.
Before they could react, they noticed my mom’s car driving towards us. When I heard my mom’s car pulling up, I suddenly became speechless and motionless.
“Who is it?” She queried cluelessly.
No one spoke a word as she got out the car only to see the love of her life lying in his own pool of blood.
“Chim o! (My God). Victor!” She screamed his name. Her voice wreaked of anguish.
We carried him into the backseat of the car and she sped off with my aunt in the front seat in a haste, while I went in the house to promise God everything I had or could obtain. 
That night, I lifted up my blood-stained hands to God in plea. I promised Him that if He saved my dad, I’d even become a nun. I told Him I’d do anything if He could just save my hero for me. I even promised Him things I knew were impossible. I pleaded. All I wanted was this one favor. I told Him if He saved my dad, I’d never ask for anything other thing in life.
My dad died that night. It was only one bullet that ended it. On August 29, 2002, someone shot and killed the man I loved first, and left him for us to find.
Apparently, that night my mom took him to 3 hospitals, none of which had any doctors available. One of the hospitals wouldn’t even open the gate without identification. How was a woman who found her husband shot at 10pm at night going to have to his ID on her? They claimed they had a policy of getting clearance from the Chief Medical Officer or a police report before admitting a car into the premises. Yes people, they wanted us to take the man dying in the backseat to get a police report first before attending to him. They didn't even know who he was.

It was the last hospital that pronounced him dead after they finally agreed to assess him.
That night, 10 years ago, a big tree fell. That night, as I waited for him to come home to give me money for my school provisions, my life was being changed. That night, I lost the first man who told me I could be whatever I wanted to be….The first man who believed in me. But that night, I gained an angel. I gained inspiration to live the life I’m living now.
So, today, I’m not mourning 10 years without my father; I’m celebrating 10 years of living under his angelic watch. That’s why I’m telling the world this story. 

I do not write this story to seek revenge because I believe in a God that avenges the pain of His believers. I do not tell you this story to admonish the Nigerian police for never bringing anyone to justice on this hideous crime because even though I can blame them for a host of other deficiencies, I do not blame them for their ignorance as to the caliber of man who was lost on August 29, 2002.  Today, I could spend my time cursing my home country for letting their inadequacies cost the life of a man loved by many, a peaceful man who lived a life of caution, a man who left behind a widow with 7 children, but I won’t waste my time telling a country what it already knows. I refuse to waste time hating the country either because I still love it, just for being home. Instead, today, I still refuse to call it what the media called it “The Assassination of Victor Nwankwo” because I hate the word “assassination” the same way I hated it 10 years ago. I’m sticking to calling it a “tremendous and unfortunate loss”. Even that, doesn't cut it. 
 If you wanted the press version, you could google his name. This one by Guardian describes him this way...
"Nwankwo was a quiet, good-natured, fair-minded and exceptionally level-headed man. His immediate and extended family were central to his life and brought him much happiness."  
You may even find tributes from his colleagues like this one or this one from APNET (African Publishers Network).  You may also find something like this one which weeps for justice for him.
But my own version is that of a 14 year old girl who found her hero lifeless. I wanted to tell the story on this significant milestone, so you could see this event like I saw it, from the eyes of a 14 year old.  I write this story so you could know the human being behind this blog. I hope after you read this story, you will gain an insight into why I am and will always be “NwaVic” father's daughter. Without this post, this won't be complete because you won't know why it was named so.
Today, I’m acknowledging and appreciating the woman who has played mother and father for the past 10 years. I salute the woman, meek in appearance but strong in spirit beyond her years; A woman who has held down the ship for 10 years without missing a beat. The woman who has ensured, to the best of her ability, that none of her children lack in any way or even slightly feel the absence of a father. In the same sense, I hail my siblings for our loss wasn’t one of separation but one of unity….for never ending a phone call or meeting without “I love you” and a hug. 

Today, I hail the clan...Mommy, Uzo, Oby, Ogo, Nazo, Dera and Kennedy.....for our tragedy has become our triumph.  

Today and always, I pay tribute to my first love. Despite death, you are still and always will be a "Victor".

And as long as I breathe, you WILL be celebrated.

We love and miss you Daddy. 

“Each day’s a gift…Each loved one is a treasure. Live, love and appreciate...while you can”
The clan. December 2001. The last "complete" family picture.

Stay Inspired….


Ije Okereke said...

NwaVic ...that's your "middle" name in my phone lol. Reading this post, I'm not even sad. I'm so happy about the strength you found through this event. My mom sometimes talks about your mom and how brave she is and how she's one of the strongest people she knows. She really has held down the fort since that day - big kudos to her man! But my dear, you are everything your dad could ever ask for. I'm sure you know that already. Keep making him proud, keep making all of us proud!


Anonymous said...

Very deep! Only a very strong and unique mind would be able to see it in the way you do. The strength of your father lives in you now...

- Mr. Ilochi

Unknown said...

Like IJE says....your strength through this 10 years is amazing for real...its is not easy at all...My Dad had a similar incident..He was short on his left arm by armed robbers...Infact, by the time he got to the hospital he only had 3 pines of blood almost died..It is so SAD how we take lives for granted in Nigeria....I also would like to applaud UZO on how he upholds the entire family as the only son and more especially a husband/fatherly figure he plays....That will most definitely keep your mum smiling everyday and also how far all of you have come along.....IT IS NOT EAST AT ALL!!!!! Mana Jehova Bu Eze...You r Dad will be happy to see how successful all of u have become....U guys keep up the good work....Edozie

Bim said...

Very well written boo---in a way that only you can....he would be proud. Love you.

Naa said...

This is so inspirational, your Dad would be so proud of you. His spirit definitely lives on in his family. You have such a beautiful soul.

Anonymous said...

Reading this story made me remember that day. * sigh* I wasn't there physically but I remember your phone call. But all that is in the past. They may have taken his life, but his soul is with the Almighty God. Raluchukwu, you have always been a strong lady. God bless your heart and your courage. I am sure your father is most proud of you all. Like u said, u gained an angel. He's been watching all these years. Keep your head up. Love u.

Oly Umeh said...

Indeed RALU your father's wish has been fulfilled in your life and family, he is dead(10 years ago) but he still dwells in you, in your family and in your heart. i rem'd i did returned for the term and ask after you, then the news was broken to me.i felt for you but i was afraid too....
i rem how plummpy you were before we left for vac that term only to return for a new session to Ral so skinny that, i the very bony girl was having more flesh than Ral. you cried, u missed him, bt u were strong.i knew that then...
Ral you were bold enough to have read the event of your father's death during morning assembly in sch then, i stood, watched u and said this girl is damn strong. kuddos to u and ur family, and i bless the lord also for his mercy and kindness upon your family. take care

Uchay said...

Wow! Ralu...this brought me to tears. Not tears of sadness but more an amazement at the courage you had and still have. You, your siblings, and your mom are some of the strongest people I have ever met. I am proud to call you family. Love you- MaZoZo (Uche)

Uncle Ralph said...

Ral Nwavi, Sir Vic will be proud of you and we are proud of you too.

Ugomma said...

August 30, u didnt turn up for french classes which was unlike u. the day before, Monsieur Gabriel and i had helped obtain a note from the director so u could continue coming for classes from boarding school. wondering where and how u were, i decided to check up on u after classes. getting to ur house, the gate was wide open and visitors thronged in and out. i remember saying to myself, "so Ral them had a party and she didnt invite me. let me catch her". entering the house, u rose up on seeing me and uttered the very words no one wishes hearing from even their worst enemies... its well. To live in the hearts of those he loves is not to die. as for his killers, there is no peace for the wicked..

Cake and Socks said...

Profound! May God continue to strenghten, and bless your mother. I am sure your father is super proud of you Nwavic!

Princess R said...

Thank you all for the encouraging comments. You kind words are greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

My dear cousin Ral... I'm amazed and brought 2 tears by your bravery. I was only 10 wen it happened and didn't really know how 2 feel or react, except be sad 4a while. but as I grew, I wondered how u all, especially your mum did it and still do it till date and that has just made me admire u all these years. But 2day, feeling just a fraction of what u felt, it has made me admire u and your amazing personality a whole lot more. I wasn't blessed 2hv known him well, but d way u celebrate your dad? I have no doubt that he is d proudest of all dad's in heaven... God has blessed u gr8ly and your achievements only make him even happier, and my prayer remains that God will keep uplifting u all! Love u loads ...Bohboh N.

Anonymous said...

beautifully and eloquently written, your dad will be so proud.

The part about Nigeria is truly sad, i live in the UK and i have a love hate relationship with Nigeria, i truely love it because its home but goodness i hate that its still behind with its infrastructure for a country and moving forward is happening way too slow, the injustice is just beyond a joke.

But some how i have faith and hope for the country.

Anonymous said...

I admire your courage.I'm sure ur dad will be glad to inform d host of heaven dat u r his daughter.Thank u 4 not failing him.May God continue to keep u & ur family IJN.

Adannaya said...

In a weird way, i'm reminded of myself just reading your blog. I don't even know you, but i am so so proud of you. I admire the woman that you are and your values. I'm sure your dad is as well. Keep shining hun :)

PS: After reading this, i'm tempted to share my story with you. Take care

Princess R said...

Thank you do much Ak. You're far too kind. I'll definitely check out your blog. Stay inspired :-)