82 year–old veteran of World War 11, Biafran War `UAC Nazi’, wife for final funeral rites

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By Tony Nezianya :

Awka, March 8, 2001 (MOI) Two time veteran of two wars – the World War 2 and the Nigeria-Biafran Civil War, Nnanyelugo Ubaka Androcles Nezianya and his wife, Nkolika Nezianya, nee Onyejekwe will be accorded their final funeral rites in line with Onitsha customs and traditions.

Their son, Mr Nwora Nezianya, an Engineer, announced this after an official endorsement of the plan by the Ime Obi, Onitsha (Igo Nmuo ceremony).

The final funeral rites would be observed on March 16, while that of Nwonaku Nkolika Nezianya, his wife’s event would be held on March 20.

Nnanyelugo Nezianya, who was drafted into World 11 under the West African Frontier Force, fought at the Burma Sector in the present day Myanmar alongside the British and the American Forces.

He was one of those to return to a heroes’ welcome home at the Quay’s of the Apapa Wharf, Lagos with a gift of a Grammarphone as parting gift in appreciation for helping the war effort.

Nnanyelugo Nezianya was a two time Counselor within the third tier of Government; he served in the defunct Onitsha Urban County Council, having won the local elections then.

He was later again to serve as Counselor for Works under Akukalia Chulo Asika as Chairman of Onitsha Local Government Government. Chief Asika is now a red cap chief, now as Akpe Olodi, Onitsha.

Nnanyelugo Nezianya, popularly known by his peers as `Nazi German’, was a community leader, who hails from Umudei Umuosuma Quarters of Onitsha.

During the Biafran War, he was one of the veteran reserves that were called out to help to train soldiers of the Biafran Army. He was awarded a field rank of Sergeant-Major. He served under the 21 Field Engineers.

At the return of the country to Democratic Rule, he was one those that pitched his tent with the then Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), when most of the Old Anambra State, had pitched their tent with the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) at which Owelle Nnamdi Azikiwe was their Presidential candidate.

He was said to have become an obstacle to NPP in making inroads into some parts of Onitsha Otu and Ogbaru Areas, leading to Chief Jim Nwobodo declaring that such a tough political juggernaut “must be captured’’ at all costs.

This led the NPP stalwarts then, to make a major concession to win him over to their party after tough negotiations.

Ubaka Nezianya as he was then known to the title of `Nnanyelugo’ during his Ozo title-taking in 1976. That was in an era when Akukalia Ikeme (Ikeme Onugbu) was President, Agbalanze Society of Onitsha.

Soon, Nnanyelugo Nezianya enjoyed some popularity within the Agbalanze society as their `interpreter’.

His special gift as a humorist was legendary as he held his fellow title holders spellbound with rib-cracking humour during initiation ceremonies.

Nnanyelugo Nezianya died at a ripe age of 82 during an ill-health in 1999 and was buried on July 24, 1999, while his wife, Nwonaku, who died and was buried at the age of 73 in 1996. Both were survived by seven children.

His wife, Nwonaku Nkoli Nezianya, was a petty trader and engaged in many seasonal trades to support the family.

She never wanted to merely play the role of a housewife but someone, who wanted at all cost to contribute to growth and development of the family.

There is cultural significance to the celebration of a second or more appropriately the final funeral rites of passage.

It is assumed that the spirit of the dead, who has yet to be accorded will these rites will not find rest as it has not reached its destination in the spirit world, considered the final resting place.

In an interview, Diokpa of Umudei, Umuosuma, Ozodinobi Anthony Obiesie said any fellow who must be buried well, ought to be assisted to reach its final resting place.

“If children of such a fellow want to take traditional titles, they will be required to accord their parents such a rite of passage. Anything otherwise will constitute a violation of the spirit of such parents.”

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