Rev Anthony Agbali
Tribute to Professor Don Ohadike:

The news of the death of Professor Don Ohadike, comes as a shock. I have had the privilege of meeting Dr. Ohadike at the 2002 African conference on Nigeria in the Twentieth Century, organized by Professor Toyin Falola. We had a nice time and I still vividly remember his jocunlar nature when we went to the World Beat African Restaurant on MLK. At one point there was so much confusion at then distribution of the books Professor Falola was given to the participants,so much that when the proprietor of the restaurant, Lawrence Eguakun, enthusiastically requested a look at one of the books, Dr. Ohadike, jokingly remarked that the books was not for "agboros" (the motor garage touts or what is now called "area boys").
Later, we had a time to chat and exchange stories during the normal conference banquet hosted at the Holiday Inn (Riverfront), Austin. It was then that I informed him that I really enjoyed his two books on the Ekumeku movement and on Anioma's social history, given that some of his postulates- such as Olukumi-was valuable for my decoding certain aspects of Cuban Santeria and my understanding the history of my Igala people. Further, while learning that I had my seminary formation at the St. Augustine's Major Seminary, Jos, he informed where that he too was in Jos, where he got his PhD degree from the University of Jos. As it so happened, we shared some mutuality regarding the people we knew. Specifically, he noted one of my Philosophy Professor, an Irish Augustinian Priest, Fr. Mason, who taught me Logic and Epistemology, at the Seminary, who was also on staff at the University of Jos then.

He was charming, jovial, and intensely focused on anything that he was interested in. On the day the conference ended, after the series of rounding presentations, we met again, and as is usual for closure, a ritual I am now all too familiar with at most conferences but more intensely at Professor Falola's, we ventured to be connected in furthering our established rapport. He was interested in my now discarded dissertation theme relative to the Ogoni Social Movement of Resistance, Politics, Rhetoric, and Ritual. I had linked up with him once thereafter, but as busy as our lives all are, we did not really keep up. I was able to send another Nigerian Priest, a graduate student at Cornell University, Rochester, New York, who was visiting Austin to be with a terminally sick Nigerian priest, who eventually died at the Brackenridge Hospital.

The news of his death comes as a sad blow, given that I have actually, even though, having not keep much contacts personally, followed his efforts at Cornell. As someone who came to know Professor Ohadike physically and just incidentally, the news of his death sounds so sudden, given the vitality that I saw in him then. But, that is the realities of our lives, which like an estuary is ebbing each day into the river that is afloat with life. I had wished to have had another moment, another occasion to meet with Professor Ohadike, following the positive impressions of our encounter. I had thought that he would come to some of the African Conferences, that I had attended thereafter, but now I understand that the hand of death has another insight.
In this present state of life, I will not ever have the opportunity to meet Professor Ohadike again, but he lives us with me in multiple ways, through his scholarship and that opportuned (kairos) moment of our encounter and interactions in 2002 at Austin, courtesy of the efforts of Professor Falola.

As sad, as this realization is, I offer my utmost thoughts of comfort and prayerful consolations to the family of Professor Don Ohadike, his professional colleagues, and all those who hold Don very dearly. While words cannot fully comprehend or capture the essence of the death of one at the prime of life, Professor Ohadike's demise also has a lesson for me, to do what I ought to do now and not push it off for a tomorrow I am somewhat unsure of. Thank you Don for the thoughts you shared with me, and the vivacious insights regarding your person that I experienced. We will surely miss you. May light, joy, and peace guide your new way!