By Zerry Ihekwaba
GRIEVING the loss of a close, younger, upwardly mobile, and public-spirited family member is a painful challenge. Every effort to thrust the passage to divine provenances, or to seek prophetic assurance of a reunion at the interrogation arena that religious faiths suggest, inevitably tend to prove inconsolably outside the realm.
It is not always that such passage of an aspiring professional, versed in an area of trending need, of one who packed so much promise but needed time to unpack its full potential, would elicit a memorial of profound challenge.
Chinedu Francis Akpuaka was born in Manchester, England well over four decades ago and was bred in the finest mix of Christianity and Igbo cultural mores. A practical humanist, he loved the arts, décor and music amid his professional medical practice; and everyone he met left with remarkable memories of his uniqueness and wholesomeness.
He had his medical education at Abia State University Medical School under the wings of his father and dean of the Medical School then, a doyen of plastic surgery, the very widely accomplished and celebrated plastic surgeon, Professor Frank Chinedu Akpuaka.
Dr. Chinedu Akpuaka pursued his post-graduate medical training, admirably with class and promptness, in the area of psychiatry in the United Kingdom where he effortlessly garnered laurels. He then blazed into the practice of medicine with confidence, well primed and focused, to succeed as the scion and only son of his father, Professor Frank Chinedu Akpuaka, and my sister and Professor of Organic Chemistry, Mabel Uk Akpuaka.
Outside his profession, Chinedu constantly reminded everyone of his natal imprimatur in espousing honest dealings in the primal footsteps of his maternal grandfather, the late Francis Umelo Ihekwaba, OFR, of Nkwerre and the erstwhile Mayor of Port Harcourt (1961-1966), as well as his paternal grandfather, the late Chief Francis Akpuaka, who served meritoriously as the Onowu of Abagana for 43 years and a Customary Court Registrar and later judge of impeccable repute. His father, Professor Frank Akpuaka, toed a similar tradition of excellence and was nobly titled to the hilt as Nze-na-Abuo, in the highest Igbo cultural more, in his ancestral Abagana community.
Many of Dr. Chinedu Akpuaka’s contemporaries are in their prime and successful career pen, and several testimonies of his strides have poured in as many confess him as their positive Victor Ludorum front-runner in their social and academic interactions and engagements.
Everyone affirms that Chinedu, on personal contact, insisted on leaving a positive part of him with you, suffused with affection and invigorating value. When he chose to specialise in psychiatry for his post-graduate training, it was like homecoming for all who knew him or had his dealings.
Chinedu had a natural healing ability to engage, understand and empathise with an ailing mind; he was real, practical, positive and captivating just as he demonstrated a flare for capturing a hurting mind and retuning it for a positive reconstruct. It was almost like divine inspiration was embedded in his dexterous ways to effectuate rehabilitation.
At occasions, many perceived a skillful understanding of the Jeremiah instincts in his ways, as encapsulated in the biblical book of Jeremiah, chapter 46:11, where the proper admission and deployment of a natural healing balm of Gilead is a hallmark of essence and competence.
Chinedu Akpuaka honed his skills as a specialist mental health physician in training in the United Kingdom and always wished a future role in the deployment of such expertise in arresting the growing but unmet needs of Nigeria’s healthcare special sector.
He meant business and put his mind to it. Chinedu was such a giant of ideas bundled with love and hope for many in that prospect. How do we mourn such a beautiful soul on a mission? All of his commitment and moment ought to be seized by all who came in contact with him so as to memorialise his vision.
A good son he was, who loved his parents specially, and early in his sojourn took to the ways of his father in committing to the Hippocratic Oath – a pledge to totally and ethically submit to the healing of the ill, and the wellness of the needy. At a defining moment of great need, he sought the same aid and comfort that he had willingly extended to others but, alas, he received it not in desired measure.
rowing up, his love and attachment to his twin sister and medical physician, Oby, was unique and admirably lovely, that many wished to be blessed with such twins. He doted on his younger sisters, Ijeoma, an attorney, and Uchenna, another connoisseur of the arts, with profound kindness, filial provision and unique commitment. It was all filial affection in its finest form.
This man was creative in a mix of philosophical ways; he found presence in being inquisitively bold, and sought out learning new things, novel concepts and explanations of the earthly and the spiritual in equal measure. He was clearly ahead of his time. He had this uncanny ability to explore the binary grasp and affinity of tradition and Christianity, one dosed with respect.
Everyone who knew him found his presence infectious, reassuring, and easy to sustain true friendship. His signature smile was attractive, sparkling and memorable. One can never forget this man! As family, we shared many moments of joy and success with Chinedu, and we cherished it all. We will miss all that. Chinedu was very kind and always had his stories, his inspirations, his mentoring ideas and suggestions, and his recollections, all spiced with traits of age-old, proverbial Igbo mores in conveying truth.
Who will ever forget such a valued human being, inspirational medical doctor, loving bother, and committed husband,with a calm uniqueness that comes at you with a solid promise and confidence, just as his strides were endearing and celebratory? This loss is huge and beyond comprehension.
As we bid the gallant Dr. Chinedu Francis Akpuaka goodbye with the interment of his remains at his final resting place in Orofia Village of Abagana, Anambra State during the sunset days of January, accompanied with prayers by family, friends and loved ones, we ask for strength and support for his loved ones and family. Although our gentleman extraordinaire might have exited the physical realm, his impact in the hearts and minds of everyone speak well and volumes.
We reluctantly must end with a painful goodnight wish, regrettably, earlier than we had hoped for our friend, cousin, nephew, brother, son, and husband, Chinedu Francis Akpuaka: requiescat in pace, in the heavenly places.
*Ihekwaba wrote from Florida, USA.