A tribute to Professor Austine S.O. Okwu at 92: A take a look at at how a diplomat who signed up to abet his country ended up serving his own other folks.From a assessment of his guide, In Reality for Justice and Honor: A Memoir of a Nigerian-Biafran Ambassador.
The connection between Ghana and Nigeria had hit a brand new low by the time S.O. arrived in Ghana in 1961. Distant places ministers of both countries came shut to fist fights. Nigerian politicians cried that Ghana-skilled dissidents had been planning to kick them out of vitality.
Kwame Nkrumah, the then top minister of Ghana, used to be on the height of his vitality. Four years earlier, in 1957 – sooner than any diversified African colony – Kwame and the Ghanaians had dethroned Britain. Now someone who wished to throw British rulers or native despots off their backs came to Ghana to study from the masters.
If the ten days’ Man-of-Warfare Bay practicing in Cameroon (sooner than his two-year service as assistant divisional officer in Ahaoda, Nigeria) had infused psychological toughness in Austine S.O., it used to be his ten months’ discontinuance in Ghana that honed his diplomatic abilities.
To males like S.O., daily presented any other to showcase Nigeria – not handiest to the host country, Ghana, but to the sphere. Admire of their country drove the Nigerian diplomats of the early sixties. Even when no person used to be staring at, they regarded out for Nigeria’s pursuits.
Despite the incontrovertible fact that designated as Head of Chancery, Austine took it upon himself to surprise why the estimated payment of constructing an oil refinery in Alesa elema, advance Port Harcourt, Nigeria, used to be all as soon as more and all as soon as more elevated than a an analogous mission in Tema, Ghana, the build he served. Following his hunch, the new diplomat alerted the Nigerian Authorities, which precipitated them to renegotiate for a greater deal.
Repartee with the Prince
When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip came to congratulate Ghana on their infrastructure, S.O. used to be among diplomats from diversified countries chosen to fulfill the royal couple.
‘Folks from Nigeria,’ remarked Phillip, nodding his head a pair of times and lengthening his upright hand.
‘Yes,’ Austine acknowledged, ‘my apologies; head of mission Mr. Leslie Harriman couldn’t be right here on the present time.’
‘How is that working out, huh, you from japanese Nigeria, and Leslie from the western a part of Nigeria?’ Prince Phillip requested.
A twinkle came visiting the face of S.O., as he locked palms with Prince Phillip.
‘If the English, the Welsh, and the Scottish can exist below British rule in spite of several wars, Nigeria, borrowing from you, can study to coexist,’ replied Austine.
Never sooner than had the Prince been diplomatically challenged in that manner. Tranquil for few seconds, Phillip glanced at Elizabeth, sooner than at final crushing Austine with a two-minute hand squeeze.
After S.O.’s successful repartee with the Prince, he successfully-known making a royal influence by attending a semi-diplomatic fanfare that very same night. He wore his popular white caftan and matching pants. On his head he wore a actual-fitting domed hat, decorated with rose petals, leaving a three-month-outdated development of shaded hair on both temples.
Kenneth Kaunda, the future President of Zambia
The crowd observed Austine. Accra had been buzzing referring to the extended moment the new Nigerian diplomat had had with the royal couple.
‘You spent extra time with the Royals than someone else,’ acknowledged a short, elephantine-bellied, inquisitive fellow. His Senegalese accent rang out as he spoke.
‘I needed to defend Nigeria,’ acknowledged Austine, as he persisted to put collectively the put collectively of company. Nearby, bottles of beer, cooked meats, jollof rice and gizzards strung on sticks lay on a picket desk draped with brown cloth.
‘Effective. I want I had been a flee hiding within the relieve of your hat, and paying attention to your dialog with—–,’ the Senegalese began to speak. Sooner than he can also form, someone tapped his left shoulder and he turn out to be.
‘Meet a buddy, Kenneth,’ the elephantine-bellied envoy acknowledged.
‘Kenneth Kaunda, from Zambia,’ acknowledged a coal-tarred childhood, blinking with out warning.
‘Austine Okwu, Nigeria, Head of Chancery to the High Commission.’
The two males surveyed every diversified. They had been like brothers of the an analogous age, raised in diversified components of Africa.
‘I do know, I do know who you’re,’ spoke back the Zambian; ‘how can I catch entangled with Nnamdi Azikiwe or Tafawa Balewa?’ A sort of urgency betrayed his youthful age.
Everyone wished a half of Nnamdi Azikiwe and Tafawa Belewa. The British had appointed these males to be the foremost President and the foremost Top Minister of Nigeria.
‘Procure a rooster,’ acknowledged Austine to the brother, ‘and tomorrow at 6 pm attain over to the home. Hold not fail.’
Kenneth chosen a prick of gizzards strung on a greased stick. He bit off the foremost gizzard and ground it between his upright molars. Having given him time to swallow, Austine persisted, ‘I have been reassigned to Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika. They want me to originate a brand new Nigerian mission.’
‘But Ghana is the center of the African revolution,’ Kaunda argued.
‘My country believes in me, and this goes to be the foremost ever Nigerian diplomatic mission in East Africa.’
Kenneth Kaunda nodded in silence. ‘I want I can also additionally produce one thing for my country to relieve them high-tail out the British colonialists. You if truth be told need to put me alive to with Azikiwe or Belewa.’
Pause of Fragment II