A barber turned Editor
By Paddy Anyatonwu
Let us clothe ourselves with the thoughts of Brain Adams as a point of contact to unveil this enigma called Prince.
“People with a strong will power will always have the bigger picture in mind. They will be able to forgo small pleasures in order to help attain bigger goals”.
Prince Ogbonna Osuagwu is well known to me.
We took our First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) the same day.
We were in the same class at the secondary school level.
When both of us failed the West African Examination Council (WAEC), the Source of Creation once more brought us together.
We started in class 4 at a community college.
We were humbled.
Those in class 5 tried to intimidate us, but you rallied us and we formed ‘The Syndicates’.
We were three.
The members were Ogbonna Osuagwu, Paddy Anyatonwu, and late Joseph Emelogu.
You showed leadership qualities early enough, you were the President of the group.
You were fierce and decisive.
We trusted your judgments and the entire school envied us.
Many wanted to join, but you refused and we all obeyed.
Then, we called you the ‘Don’.
Where you made your bones, only the Source of Creation knows.
You had an aura and a pull.
However, this is not the story.
All I can say here is that there wasn’t enough money when you were growing up.
But, you had a fire and were self-motivated.
A smooth talker without an iota fears therein.
No one was able to intimidate you no matter his social standing.
I don’t know how you were getting funds with which you were buying the books.
I can’t remember seeing you without a book.
It was from thy hands I saw James Hardley Chase for the first time.
Simply put, you were an avaricious read.
Ogbooo, as I fondly call you, you were a greedy reader.
Let me not forget that you were also a dancer with medals.
Another quality you had that baffled many of us then was your ability to trek long distances.
Perhaps, you drew strengths from what Byron Pulsifer had in mind when he said, “just remember that a mountain is not taken down in one big scoop, but is done by taking one small chuck away at a time”.
You hadn’t money, but if there was a need to move, you moved.
Nna, you can trek for Africa.
As we dispersed to various locations, you chose Abakiliki.
There, you became a professional barber.
You barbed with glee and blissfulness.
You loved making the sons and daughters of men look good.
Again, the Source of Creation brought us to Lagos and we lived in the same room in Festac Town, Lagos.
To keep body and soul moving, you continued with barbing.
Almost every client wanted you to have their head hair to be cut by you.
Each time I visited, there were queues of clients waiting for you.
According to them, you were cheerful, neat, charming, and professional.
As a matter of fact, you never left your books.
Most of your income was deployed on buying books.
One day you called me and said, Paddyman, I want to send an article to Guardian Newspapers”.
I laughed and teased you for being too ambitious.
I advised that you send it to the defunct Post Express.
You did and the Features Editor, Emeka Alex Duru got them published.
Vince Lombardi must have advised you that,” a man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive, and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done”.
Ogboooo, you were elated and stayed awake all night working on your stories.
He sent some stories to the Vanguard Newspapers, and almost all his stories were published.
He resigned from the barbing industry and put all his energy into story writing.
But, Vanguard could not give him full employment because there were no certificates to be presented.
Just as Leonardo da Vinci told the world that, “it had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
He became a freelance journalist.
At a point, he was helping the news editor to rework other people’s stories.
Don worked and worked with salaries.
The Vanguard acknowledged his wonderful command of English, but the company policies could not allow her to employ Prince Osuagwu.
Almost reaching a breaking point, Ogboo, got admission and got a certificate.
Today, Don is a Line Editor covering ICT.
He has traveled to almost all the countries on this planet Earth.
Ogboo, Paddy celebrates you today.
I also challenge you to tell this story yourself to encourage the younger ones as you gather materials to float your pet project called, ‘The Pen Foundation’.
Mr. President, I humbly doff my cap with the sayings of Calvin Coolidge.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. A genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! Has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”.
But Ogboo, do you still trek?