EXIT OF A SEVENTY-SEVEN YEAR OLD COMET: THE BERNARD’S COMET
Chief Uzo Ihuka writes:
Like the astronomers and other space scientists have opined that the Halley’s comet is unarguably the most famous comet. According to these scientific warhorses, the Halley’s comet returns to the earth’s vicinity in every seventy five years, making it possible for any human to see it once or probably twice in his or her lifetime.
But why is a comet named after Halley Edmond? What did he do that Eze Ukwu Bernard Enweremmadu had not done a double portion of it? Is it not a fallacy of hasty generalization to refer the Halley’s comet as the most famous comet? For the records, a comet was named after astronomer Edmond Halley in recognition of his historic astronomical discovery about comets. Before the English astronomer made this scientific breakthrough in 1705, comets were thought to be divine omens, atmospheric anomalies or celestial wanderers that flashed through the solar system.
Although Halley died in 1742 fighting for the world he met, his comet appeared in the sky on the Christmas night of 1758, right as he posited. This his discovery was hailed as a triumph of scientific reasoning and Newtonian physics. Hence, the French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille named the comet in Halley’s honor.
Like the Halley’s comet which lastly appeared near the sun in 1987 on its orbit (to appear again in 1961), the Bernard’s comet arrived the earthly vicinity in 1943 and departed in 2021- lived about seventy seven years just like the rarely seen comet. Made memorable spiritual, mythological and traditional discoveries just like Edmond Halley did in astronomy.
Indeed , it is a privilege to have seen and known the Bernard’s comet.
His Eminence Eze Dr (Sir) Bernard Enweremmadu was not born Royal, he rather achieved royalty himself. For I can remember vividly in the early stages of my life, seeing his father popularly known as Papa Fine Country riding on his new Raleigh bicycle.
I can also exhume from the memory lane the indisputable fact that he was not the first traditional ruler to have emanated from Ngwa Ukwu dynasty. His predecessor, Eze Onuoha whom history would likewise be kind to could not achieve the heroic and historic traditional, cultural and philanthropic feats that Ukwu Lion achieved from 1976 when he mounted the saddle till date.
Though he was not born a patrician or in an aristocratic family, he had through his strong will-power, polyvalency and prestigious precocious royalty transformed the Ngwa Ukwu throne to another level, enshrining the unique factual mythological “Oparaship” in the cultural history of Ala Ngwa.
The comet, of course the Bernard’s comet never turned to a wonder overnight, he was precociously a wonder himself. As I can remember with nostalgia, the stories my mother told me about her primary school experiences with Eze Ukwu. The stories of how this comet bamboozled his fellow pupils with his magical wits. Having discovered himself a mystery personified, he grew up to acquire a doctorate degree in homeopathic medicine in United Kingdom where he returned to be crowned the Eze Ukwu of Ngwaukwu. Of course, he came almost fully made.
I can also remember the day of his coronation as a little lad, taken to the occasion by my mother. The atmospheric condition of that historic day was agog and the entire Ngwa Ukwu villages were in a festive mood. The coronation arena smelt royalty as it was densely adorned with a sea of spectators drawn from all walks of life. Hence, a mammoth of crowd that I have never again seen again in Ngwa Land except after the swearing in of the first Abia Governor from Ngwa extraction- Okezie Victor Ikpeazu.
Seeing the hands enveloped in glittering white gloves that bespoke of astounding royalty waving at the expectant crowd, my mother sounded vociferously at me in her heavy Ngwa dialect, ‘Le kwa Eze Ukwu o!’ She shouted ‘see Eze Ukwu’ at me with such a voice of one who had suddenly discovered a gold ore. Even though it was not her fault, it was in her burning curiosity to show her little son the much-talked-about personality.
Really as one cliché goes: old soldier never dies for his memories are long lasting; down the memory lane, I can obviously still remember and watch myself through the vicissitudes of time waiting for Dee Sunday Emelogu everyday at the outskirts of our compound to ask him an avalanche of questions about Eze Ukwu. Dee Sunday was Eze Ukwu’s driver as he was one of my cousins’ (Da Nkalari) suitor and eventual husband.
I can remember asking him if he has ever seen Eze Ukwu before even though he was his driver because stories had it that he doesn’t travel through automobiles. That he is hardly or seldom seen on the road traveling. Trust me, I never forgot or hesitated to ask Dee Sunday about the publicly hallucinated single room from where he travelled to India and other parts of the world. And about the little river in his backyard that changes to many colours in which there are many fishes, including dry fishes. And about the unseen phantoms (spirits) that accompany his wives to market, making sure that any man who dares to stop his wives or talk to them on the road are thoroughly regimented with some strokes of cane.
And then when I grew up to find out that the rumored magical and mystical little dam is an aquarium, I laughed ashamedly at my childhood ignorance. And so, when I remember my mother’s magical stories of their primary school experiences, I smirked hysterically at myself. But who will blame me and my peers for believing line and sinker all these stories, considering our humble pedigree and low socio-economical background? A band of poor lads growing up in a remote county side of the East of the Niger? Then, the circumstantial realities of our childhood experiences are unbeknownst to such a critic.
But can I forget in 1997, when I was the Personal Assistant to the Honorable Minister for Youths and Sports during the then Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime, when Gen. Abacha invited Eze Ukwu to Abuja. I was in Nicon Noga Hilton Hotel (now Transcorp Hilton Hotel) when he and his entourage arrived as the Head of State’s special guest. I watched with admiration and total fascination as his wives and his retinue of aids filed out as they semicircled him while he walked through the premises of the hotel- they appeared blue-blooded.
As a cultural and traditional heritage archive and pacesetter, I saw a few of his aids carrying mortars and pistles with which they would pound his yam for him because he would not eat any other food apart from his own made pounded yam.
What about the Ojemba series of the defunct Imo Broadcasting Service? How Ojemba came to Ngwa Land and committed sacrilege and Eze Ukwu appeased the gods at Eke-la-afo. And that was my first time of hearing of Eke-la-afo.
And then in 2002 when I ran for Isialangwa North chairmanship election, despite meeting him severally on different occasions in his exalted palace, I went there with my whole family including my mother who was his school mate. On that day, he officially declared me a grandson of the royal family.
Again I remember with nostalgia one of the yuletide periods, when a vendor I instructed to deliver my royal annual ritual of gifts delivered something lower than expected of me by the prestigious palace. My fine was a double of my suppose gift which I gladly obliged as a grandson of the palace.
I cannot forget the endearing relationship I had with Ukwu Lion. There was a time I stayed away from the palace due to my busy schedule, and I ran into Ezeukwu at the burial of one of his in-laws. After a royal exchange of pleasantries, he nicknamed me ‘Ogbaoso 1’ which I never accepted. After which I again became a regular visitor of the palace and my grandson title was restored. The lessons I learned from each visit will remain indelible in my heart.
Oh sure! We are lucky that the Bernard’s comet passed through the earth’s vicinity in our time just like the Japanese spacecraft was lucky to see and meet the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of seeing the Halley’s comet (in 1986). We are privileged to be part of the generation through which the Bernard’s comet traversed the earthly plane in the person of His Eminence Eze Dr (Sir) Bernard Enweremmadu.
I call him the 77 year old comet because his achievements are too incredible to be metaphorically likened to just a comet. I call him the Seventy -seven year old comet because he did what Halley could not do to be named after a comet.
And so, for history’s sake, the Bernard’s comet passed through the earthly vicinity from 1943-2021.
Good bye the Bernard’s comet! The earth realm shall wait till the next 77years for your replica.
Adieu the cultural and traditional head of Ngwa Land!
Adieu Ukwu Lion!
Be our eyes over there while we replicate what you represented over here.
Rest on till the day of new rebirth.
I remain Chief Sir Uzoma Ihuka, the President of Ngwa Patriots Forum. And I write from the abode of the second son of Ngwa Land, Umuoha.