A peep into the life of Chief Sir Ernest Nwafor Okolo (Chinenyeze)


Ernest Nwafor Okolo was born humbly in the tiny village of Umuinem Ufuma to the family of Okolo nwa Mgborie, the son of Ekeshiokoro, as the first child of Onemefolu and Omutarazuo (nee Ikpo), on 24"h November 1935. 

Having lost his dad early in his life, the burden of taking care of his siblings was quite heavy on dad and his mother who worked very hard to live up to her name of omutara zuo (If you must have children, train them). 

Special mention should be made of dad's uncle (his mother's brother), Late Wilfred Ikpo who very helpful in dad's early upbringing. Dad spent most of his early special holidays (Christmas, Ogiri anyasi, Otute, etc) with Mr. Wilfred Was Ikpo at Umuonyiba Ufuma. 

Chinenyeze was very intelligent ánd this was demonstrated in everything he did. For his early education, he attended St Clement's Catholic School, Umuogem Ufuma (1946 to 1947) and St Matthew's Catholic School, Akpu (1948 to 1953). 

For his teaching career, he attended Preliminary Teacher's Training College, PTC Nimo (1954); St Peters Teachers Training College - ETC Achina (1957 to 1958) St Charles' Teachers Training College Onitsha (1962 to 1963); and the Insitute of Moral & Religious Education (Project Time), Akoka, Yaba Lagos, Affiliate of University of Ibadan (1974 to 1976) for his Associate Diploma and B.Ed; among other short trainings.

Dad started off as a teacher in 1955. He taught in schools across Orumba from Umueji, Umuogem, Umuonyiba, Umunebo in his native Ufuma to Nawfija, Akpu and Umunze. He retired in 1990 as a Supervisor of schools in the Anambra State Local Government Education Authority. 

At all these locations, dad remained a household name till date. He is widely known as ONYE NKUZI. Though retired, dad wasn't tired, thus began his banking career, working with and for the current Ufuma monarch, Chief Chika Uchime FCNA (Diji II of Ufuma) to set up Ufuma Community Bank Ltd where he was the General Service Manager, Treasury Manager and Secretary to the Board of Directors at different times. 

Agile daddy was pressured to retire once again in 2004. Igwe Chika Uchime had this to say about daddy in his tribute: "Chinenyeze, You were good, hardworking, intelligent, wise, honest,trustworthy, rich and humble, peaceful, and most of all faithful." Despite his white-collar nature, dad never left farming. At all his locations, he boasted of large yam barns. 

Dad was a celebrated athlete, both in the field and track events. He was an award winning long distance runner, courting many glory in the 880 yard event. Due to his feats in sports, his associates nicknamed him, AAA-Amateur Athletic Association. 

 As a sports teacher and coach, He mentored many footballers in the old Akpu (Ufesiodo) region. Chief Dr. Emeka Ire-Okoli (FNIVS) had this to say about him;"..Sir Ernest Okolo (Chinenyeze) taught me how to play football at the rudimentary and primary school level in the early sixties, which I carried onto my Secondary School level to become the School football captain 

He was a great disciplinarian and he mentored very many young ones in Old Akpu Parish (Catholic Diocese) to greatness..." Some of his football coaching subjects that come to mind include his younger brother, Dennis and Chief Patrick Iloekwe of Akpu. 

COMMUNITY, HUMANITARIAN & SOCIAL LIFE Dad was a respected Community leader. He wasa Community Councillor representing his village at the Ufuma Community Council, and a member of the Ufuma Chieftaincy selection Committee, pre-19778 coronation of Diji II of Ufuma. He played major part in the rural electrification of his community, serving as the Secretary of the rural electrification project. Dad was no less a socialite. He was never found wanting in social circles.

During the planning for his funeral, his younger brother, Agbawodikeizu remarked that if every event dad attended was to be reciprocated at his funeral, that the entire village Would not contain guests. Dad belonged to and played notable parts in many social associations. 

He was the "life' Treasurer of Umuehi Welfare Social Club. Chinenyeze was very playful and made friends easily. There is no record of him ever engaging on a fight with anybody. He always preached and ensured peaceful coexistence, He played and joked with the low and mighty. 

Dad played his part in active politics He was Secretary of National Republican Conventión (NRC) in Ufuma Ward while his bosom friend, Late Chief Festus Nwankwo (Agwagu) was a Ward Chairman. 

He continued as a non partisan political statesman after the botched elections of 1993, playing hosts to many election candidates. Dad was very selfless and gave out to the needy effortlessly. 

He loved education so much that he paid school fees for some of his students who could not afford it, especially the brilliant ones 

Chinenyeze was a devout Catholic. He was a 4th Degree Knight of the Catholic Order of St. Mulumba, Nigeria and served the Akpu Sub Council as the Worthy Auditor meritoriously from 2010 to 2016. 

He was Secretary of the Parish Council of St Mary mother of God Parish, Ufuma from 1984 to 1986 as well as the Vice Chairman of St Clement's Parish Council, Ufuma from 2011 to 2016. He was honored as an Active Apostolate of the St Mary mother of God Parish and also bestowed an Ide of St Clements Parish. 

Dad was a part time Catechist at his local church from 1978 to 2008. He had to leave his locations every weekend to travel to his home church for Sunday services most of those years. Most importantly, dad donated a princely part of the land on which the current St John Bosco's Catholic Church stands 

Chinenyeze wedded the pretty Miss Victoria Nwafor, from Umuogem Ufuma on 2 April, 1967. A marriage that can best be described as worthy of emulation. This is exemplified by the long list of intending couples who besieged them for marriage sponsorship, which they willingly bliaed Dad's marriage was blessed with nine children but painfully, Vitus Chukwuma and Eucharia Chinenye preceded dad on the journey to heaven. May their souls continue to rest in peace, Amen. 

Dad was a disciplinarian, yet very warm. He ensured that his children got the best of education. No doubt, his children love him so much. The pain of his exit would be difficult to erase. 

Dad spent memorable time in Sydney Australia in the company of his wife, with his last daughter in 2017. He then celebrated the Golden Jubilee of marriage to his heartthrob on 7th January 2018. 

He was later inducted into the Otochara ogbo Uvume age grade (the oldest age grade in Ufuma) in August 2018. In February 2019, Chinenyeze sustained haemorrhage after a domestic accident. It is on record that dad, at 83 was the oldest patient to survive a brain (borehole) surgery at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi. 
Thanks to the then CMAC and current CMD of the hospital, Prof. Joe Ugboaja and his team of Neurosurgeons led by Dr. Nkwerem who took good care of him. One of the doctors explained that his quick recovery was due to his very high intelligence level. 
Dad returned to his cheerful best after the medical journey though his movement was now restricted. In September 2022, after spending time with his personal Physician, Dr. Atuka at Good Shepherd Hospital Nise, dad proceeded in residence with his daughter at Awka. 

On the afternoon of 15" December 2022, Chinenyeze quietly joined the Church Triumphant surrounded by his lovely wife and children, after celebrating Holy Mass with Rev Fr. Constantine Okoli earlier that morning. May his soul continue to rest in peace, Amen.

Dad is survived by his wife, seven children, numerous grand children, brothers, sister, daughter in-law, sons in-law, cousins, in-laws and a host of other relations, some of whom are: 

Lady Victoria U, Okolo (LSM) Wife 
Sir. 'Dozie Donat Okolo (FCA, KSM) - Son. 
Very Rev. Fr. Benedict Chukwudiomimi Okolo (CM) - Son. 
Mrs. Jacinta Nkiru Innocent-Okoli - Daughter Mrs. Ogonna Osita-Okoli (CNA) - Daughter. 
Ms. Chibugo Annette Okolo - Daughter. 
Mrs. Ijeoma Okolo-Jeff Ezechukwu (CIFON) - Daughter. 
Mrs. Ifeyinwa Okolo - Joachim Okongwu- Daughter Lady Vivian Okolo (LSM) - Daughter in law Hon. 
Nze Ray Osita-Okoli (Akusinachi) - Son in law Chief Jeff Ezechukwu (Okemmiri) - Son in law Engr. Joachim Okongwu- Son in law 
Chief Christopher Okolo (Agbawodikeizu) - Brother 
Mr. Dennis Okolo - Brother 
Mrs Victoria Nwabuike(nee Okolo) - Sister 
Mr. Marcel Okolo - Cousin 
Mrs. Okwu (nee Okolo) - Cousin 
Mrs. Lucy Nwankwo- Cousin 
Lady Theresa Orakwe- Cousin 
Mr. Evaristus Ikpo - Cousin 
Mr. Okechukwu Ikpo - Cousin 
Mr. Emeka Ikpo - Cousin 
Mr. Chinedu Ikpo - Cousin 
Mrs. Lucy Nwankwo (nee Ikpo) - Cousin 
Mrs. Ebere Nwafor (nee Ikpo) - Cousin 
Mrs. Anurika Ude (nee Ikpo) - Cousin 
Mrs. Chigozie Udensi (nee Ikpo) - Cousin) 
Mr. Ben Ikpo - Cousin 
Mrs. Louisa Nwafor (Nee Ikpo) -Cousin 
Mrs. Ezinwanne Kene (Nee Ikpo) - Cousin 
Mr. Cletus Onyeaka - Brother in law 
Mrs. Cecilia Okolo- Sister in law 
Mrs. Cordelia Okolo-Sister in law 
Mrs. Eucharia Okolo- Sister in law 
Sir. Gibson Nwafor (KSM) - Brother in law 
Mrs. Veronica Igbojekwe- Sister in law 
Mrs. Grace Ndiokwere- Sister in law 

Emmanuela Dozie -Okolo 
Valerie Dozie - Okolo 
Nicole Dozie - Okolo 
Gabriella Dozie-Okolo 
Michael Dozie - Okolo 

Ogbuehi Chikamso Innocent-Okoli 
Chukwunweike Innocent-Okoli 
Adaugo Innocent-Okoli 
Chisom Innocent-Okoli 

Mmesoma Osita-Okoli 
Chinaza Osita-Okoli 
Kamsiyo Osita-Okoli 

Chikaima Jeff-Ezechukwu 
Chikasinma Jeff Ezechukwu 

Jimeto Joachim - Okongwu 
Zina Joachim - Okongwu 
Chinaza Marachukwu 
Chikodi Okonkwo 
Geoffrey Vincent 

Hon. Fidelis Okolo 
Mrs. Anulika Okoli (nee Okolo) 
Mrs. Obianuju (nee Okolo) 
Mr. Okechukwu Okolo 
Mr. Uchechukwu Okolo 
Mr. Echezona Okolo 
Mr. Ikechukwu Onyeaka 
Mr. Okwudili Onyeaka 
Mrs Theresa Christopher Onyeguiri 
Mr. Ejike Onyeaka 
Mrs Ifebube (Nee Okolo) 
Mr. Emeka Okolo 
Mr. Chibuike Okolo 
Mr. Tochukwu Okolo
Miss Chioma Okolo 
Miss Chisom Okolo 
Mr. Dubem Okolo 
Miss. Chikodi Okolo 
Mr. Onyeka Nwabuike 
Mrs Ogonna (nee Nwabuike) 
Mrs Nzubechukwu (nee Nwabuike) 
Miss Chinasa Nwabuike 
Mr. Okechukwu Nwabuike 

We are convinced that dad is happily seated with God in heaven. As Catholics however, we enjoin all friends and well-wishers to please continue to pray and book Masses for his repose. 

Signed: Sir. 'Dozie Donat Okolo (KSM)

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