Good Night At 9th Mile: A Farewell Tribute To Kamsi D’Great!

Good Night At 9th Mile: A Farewell Tribute To Kamsi D’Great! [MUST READ]

By Wires Editor | The Trent on April 10, 2021
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Kamsi Okonkwo
Kamsi Okonkwo

Nothing has ever been as challenging to me as trying to put my current state of mind into writing. How do I attempt to portray somebody so extraordinary using mere writings? Worse still, can I perchance summarise the affections and special recollections I have for Kamsi in a single tribute? It is a near-impossible mission, but impossible, to many, exists only in the dictionary.

My acquaintance with Kamsi began while he was in 200 level and served at the registration desk during one of the editions of the annual international conference of the faculty of social science, COOU. As the master of ceremony, I approached Kamsi and his elder sister, Judith, for a copy of the conference programme as directed by Conference registration chairman Dr. Agary. Upon my request, he greeted me so cheerfully and gladly handed me a copy. Noticing my confusion and struggle to recall where we had previously met, he decided to relieve me of the mental torture by saying “Baba you no go know me but I know you wella. I dey hear your scores from many of my friends wey dey Eco dept and you teach my sister here (Judith) FSS for Pol Science – Faculty of Social Science Statistics – so I just say make I greet u”. This was the spark that heralded the evolution of what started as a random hailing to a strong personal affiliation between Kamsi and me.

As our relationship grew so did he. Kamsi ventured into volunteering activities within and outside school, tried his hands on different skills, and worked multiple side hustles, slowly building a remarkable reputation as a gentle soul with an empathic nature. He became a young man beaming with passionate professionalism. These qualities endeared him to fellow students and even lecturers beyond his department. It was no surprise he earned leadership roles ranging from class representative to the President of NAPSS (Nigeria Association of Political Science Student – COOU Chapter) among others. Kamsi dispatched these responsibilities with a blend of charm, grace, and diligence, working so hard to make it all work. His passion for service brought about many successes in his young career amidst admiration from several quarters.

Our association blossomed throughout his 400 level and strengthened every time we spent together. Upon the conclusion of his final paper, I received Kamsi’s call asking for my whereabouts which I told him. To my surprise, He came to the Economics examination hall where we had equally concluded the exams for the day, dressed in a white polo baptised with many inscriptions of goodwill, written in different coloured pens, and threw some fresh Naira notes in the air towards my direction, shouting joyfully “Baba I am now a graduate, taa we don finally make am, God don do am for us”. I jokingly told him not to embarrass himself further since the news of some students allegedly from his department had gone viral for spraying higher naira denominations while he was playing with few notes of lower denominations. He replied, laughing “Na wetin I get nah, I no dey street with them, I go still shock you when I make am tomorrow via legit”. We moved on together and shared so many adventures in mutual respect and warmth during subsequent encounters.
A few weeks after his graduation and we were inseparable like brothers, connected by closer proximity from Nibo to Amawbia.

When the arrangement for my forthcoming wedding came up, to my surprise Kamsi took it personally and assumed the position of my wedding planner-in-Chief. He would call me every day to know our take-off time for the day and inquire about the itinerary for the following day when we returned. That the wedding is 90% ready is majorly through the efforts of Kamsi, from food to decorations, canopy, seats, venue layout, attire, delivery of drinks among others, it was his push, idea, and commitment to make it a success. He always reminded me “Baba na our wedding be dis oo so we no suppose fall hand”, “ANSU go hear am”, “e must choke”, and voluntarily assumed the role of chauffeur to accomplish our daily tasks. At a point, he conspired with my wife to get me to a photo studio to take some pre-wedding pictures (against my earlier position). He even went as far as going online to get some mad concepts for our pics and led the selection of the attractive ones after the shot. Whenever I went, there was Kamsi, to the extent that we got tired of questions about our relationship and we decided to tell those who cared to ask that we were brothers and laugh it off afterward.

On Tuesday 6th April, I was to attend the burial of my brother-in-law’s father in Enugu state and again Kamsi volunteered to accompany me to the event the previous day. We left in the morning as planned but upon return, one of our vehicles (a Honda Accord) broke down at Ama Junction by Nsukka/Markudi road. With evening approaching we made efforts to plead with the manager of the petrol station beside where the car spoilt for the vehicle to be parked till the following morning, but they refused. It was then agreed that another car (Toyota Corolla) in our convoy will be used to tow the Honda. True to his selfless personality, Kamsi opted to navigate the Honda to be towed while the other driver drove the main car. As they were about to leave, the rope used to tie the Honda to the Corolla cut into two. The driver of the corolla took a bike from the Ama junction to 9th mile to get another rope while Kamsi waited in the car. It was at this moment (around 8:25 pm) that a Dangote trailer loaded with cement and moving at a crazy speed came from behind and hit both cars by the side of the road where they parked. One of our sisters from my village, Mrs. Chibuzor Izundu who was leaning on the Corolla died on the spot from the impact, while Kamsi was trapped in the Honda under the trailer. A commercial motorcycle operator and another lady were also hit and died instantly, while the trailer driver immediately came out of the truck and ran away. We could hear Kamsi’s voice calling for assistance “Pls Help Me, Abeg make una help” and fading gradually with each call. Those who rushed to the scene made efforts to offload the cement from the trailer to lighten the weight while efforts to reach him were unsuccessful till we could no longer hear Kamsi’s voice. We stood there helplessly waiting for the heavy-duty tow truck from the FRSC which came around after midnight but the machine was not in good shape. It took the intervention of Nigerian Breweries who released their crane which arrived around 2 am to lift the trailer and the Honda as well. It was at this point that Kamsi’s lifeless body was retrieved.

Oh! What a painful death! The shock for me at that point was indescribable. I could hear people wailing that this has become a normal incident at that particular spot and nothing has been done about it. The same leadership failure Kamsi was so poised to tackle became the burden that snuffed the life out of him. Are there no checks for driver qualification of big vehicles? Are these vehicles regularly examined for roadworthiness? Why are the concerned authorities unconcerned about the incessant deaths at that particular spot? No bumps, no street lights, and other preventive measures and we claim to be a functional society? A country that chokes her youth to death. I am just weak! From that day I have been withdrawn, shattered, and devastated by the loss of a brother in Kamsi and a sister in Mrs. Chibuzor.

Since the incident, I’ve received so many messages of consolation and encouragement. I have also seen lots of misinformation concerning the incident and fully come to terms with the dangers of fake news. I have likewise read from many people from many places (online and offline) saying “there are no words to express how they felt” – well, I believe that for Kamsi, no matter how painful, there are words. There are words of happiness about the treasured time we all had with Kamsi, albeit now too brief. There are words of charm to describe his individuality, style, and how he always looked. There are words of sorrow to try and communicate what we are feeling now he has painfully left us. But maybe most of all there are words of strength, of hope, of power, of resilience, and love. Words that can bring us together to draw lessons worthy of emulation from his life.

For me, Kamsi was a jolly good fellow, full of life, love, humility, and determination. He was handsome, smart, challenging, empathetic, and encouraging. Kamsi always looked to learn and grow; to better himself as a person and a professional. He was a great listener with time for friends from within and across departments and from all walks of life. He was as selfless as he was determined and left his mark on so many people. This is evident in the countless tributes and wide circulation of his passing. What a pity. All these people saying all those wonderful things, and Kamsi never got to hear any of it.

My visit to his family reinforced my sadness as I could not imagine how parents who lost their only child could bear such loss. Although we are aware of the mystery of God in cases like this, but we are tempted to ask, God why? Inozikwa omee? I pray they find solace from the following bible passages: Lamentations 3:31-33(NIV) “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.” This soothing verse from Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) invites those in need of comfort and ease, both the mourning family and the soul of the deceased who has transited into glory, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This is further guaranteed by another verse from Matthew 5:4 with calming words for the mourners from the Okonkwo and Izundu families, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Unknown to many, Kamsi was meditatively aware and spiritual (not the religiosity prevalent in society). That is why he was bold and free enough to discuss issues relating to death which is an inevitable end for all mankind. But the death of a young person is usually more painful as it is expected that children should live long and bury their parents. This requires reflection on another verse that is popular because of the strong message that death is a part of God’s plan and the deceased will find peace in Heaven. Isaiah 57:1-2 (NIV) “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”

As I temporarily draw the curtain, let me reiterate that Kamsi was without a doubt among the few observant, attentive, and knowledgeable young men I have met. Compassionate and humble, he represents the man the youth of nowadays should aspire to emulate. With a contagious smile and infectious laugh, he turns heads and attracts attention every time he talks. He never let the fact of being an only child restrict him from living his life and chasing his dreams. And of course, Kamsi was human. He made a few mistakes. However, the difference in his case was that he reflected and pondered those mistakes and quietly learned from them. This is why he was able to make friends with enemies. Such is greatness personified – Kamsi D’Great!

He intentionally built relationships that would bring people together and along at every opportunity. Kamsi’s humility and humanity were the real power he had in the relationships he cultivated. Being humble helped him to be known as someone who acted out ethically, empathetically, and reasonably. On the other hand, his humanity extended to his family, friends, and anyone else who knew him. People liked him. He was easy to know, an open book. Many thought they knew him, but now they know that they would have liked to have known him even better and had him stay around longer. This is his LEGACY which must not be in vain and by the special grace of God, he shall be immortalised in our hearts, and generations to come shall know about him.

In closing, Kamsi believed that positive change and caring about people were intricately linked and worked towards actualising it. He also embodied the mantra of “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. It seems obvious and trite to say that Kamsi will be missed, or that he went away too soon. But it is true. Your father, mother, and relations will miss you. Nibo, Amawbia, Igbariam, and Anambra state will miss you. Students, friends, and lecturers will miss you. NAPSS, FOSSSA, PARC, Political Science department, the faculty of social science, and the entire COOU will miss you. Valentine C Ozigbo and team #chawapu will miss you. We will miss your jokes, the banters, the vibes and positive energy, the cruise as well as the policy engagements and constructive debates. The bottom line is that he was a great leader far beyond his years. We can all learn a lot about leadership, service, humility, and humanity by following Kamsi’s example. Till we meet again, farewell, my brother!

Goodnight Kamsi D’Great.

Chukwunonso Fens Ekesiobi can be reached at @ChukwunonsoFens.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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