The Escape

The Escape

by Joseph O. E. Ohanugo


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The Escape by Joseph O. E. Ohanugo

The book outlined how Joseph who was not born with silver spoon in his mouth went from a disadvantaged position to advantaged position in life. He was not privileged to get normal High School education, but he excelled through hard work to get a university education. Few challenges early in his childhood years did not deter him from moving forward in life.
After his education in the U.S, he returned to Nigeria and joined his family business. He never got the kind of cooperation he needed to move the business forward.
Like many family businesses in Nigeria which lacked a set goal, the success became difficult.
The book looked at the challenges that face teachers in American Schools with particular reference to substitute teachers in the public school system.
The book dealt with marriages in Nigeria with particular reference to Osina Town.
Failing in any endeavor is not important, what is important is the determination to succeed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781456768058
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 06/17/2011
Pages: 108
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.26(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Escape



Copyright © 2011 JOSEPH O. E. OHANUGO
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4567-6805-8

Chapter One

The childhood and the early education of Joseph

Joseph came from the heritage of a single child family. The great great great grand father Anyaeletuobi, the great great grand father Ozoemena, the grand father Ohanugo and the father Ekekwe each was a single child. Each of them was a polygamist. Ekekwe's three wives, each had children but high rate of infant mortality played adverse role. Akuekwe, Joseph's mother and the first wife had eight children-six males and two females. The last female died before she was five. The remaining female, Louisa died during child birth and she is survived by two female children. By 2010, there are three surviving males of Akuekwe's children. Vincent, the first son is survived by three sons and two daughters. The second son Agodi, is survived by four sons and three daughters. The third son Ohiagu, is survived by three sons and three daughters. The fourth son Benson, has three surviving sons and four daughters. The fifth son Joseph has two sons and one daughter. The sixth son, Emmanuel has five sons and two daughters. The generation of single child ended with Ekekwe Ohanugo.

The second wife of Ekekwe, Ajaerinma had several children but only one son survived. The surviving son, Samuel died in 2009. He is survived by four boys and three daughters from two wives of the same mother. The first wife died and he married the sister. The third wife, Egeolu, had a male and two females. The male, Jeremiah accidentally died in motor accident in 2001. Joseph Obioma Ekekwe Ohanugo was born into a polygamous family at Obinugbo, Akpaka N'ezeala, Ofe-eke, Osina; Ideato Local Government Area (LGA) of Imo State Nigeria, on June 7, 1942. The name Obioma is an abridged form of Nworusobinma. Friends call me Nworu. This was the original name from my parents. Since Ohanugo family has been identified with single male child all along, detractors were aggrieved and complaining how the family could grow with so many male children. Hence I was given Nworusobinma. Meaning (Is everyone happy with the birth of another male?) A man, Samuel, a friend of Agodi and a native of Umudinkwa Ofe-eke Osina, looked at this name from the Christian perspective and changed it to Obioma. Which means "good spirit or Joy." I welcomed the latter name. My father died when I was about five years old. It was the Ibo tradition then to bury a man inside his house. That was done accordingly.

Obinugbo and its origin:

Ugbo was the name of a giant tree that had survived countless generations of the people of the land. Because each generation came and saw it, it is identified with the neighborhood. Obinugbo means people living around the ugbo tree. Ugbo tree connotes success, prosperity and survival for the people. The tree produced white cowry form of flowers during the harmatan period. The Cowry (ego ayoro) was a medium of exchange (money) in Nigeria between 18th and early 19th century. People saw the ugbo flowers as 'ego' or money even though they were not used as such. For this the ugbo is referred to by the people as 'ugbo n'ami ego'- the tree that grows money. The ugbo tree crumbled, rotted away and fell apart in the late 20th century out of age. Standing in its place is the Obinugbo Hall. A symbol of the existence of ugbo tree and its people.

Joseph was born when there was neither hospital nor maternity at Osina and the environ. Once a mother was in labor, an elderly and experienced lady was quickly invited to attend to her. The elderly woman on arrival took the expecting mother away from the house. This was to keep children who may be around away from witnessing the delivery process. The most convenient place was at the back of the house or any enclosure thereof. This was the kind of environment in which Joseph was born. The elderly woman did all what she could based on her experience. Survival at this point was an act of God. The child and the mother could be brought out alive or dead. Joseph came out alive. On completion of necessary processes including cleansing, the child and the mother are led into the house. As all move to the house a prayer is said in song:

    "Nne gi gwa gi uka gerekwa ya
    Nna gi gwa gi uka gerekwa ya
    Onye ozo gwa gi uka egekwala ya
    Were ehihie muru anya
    Were abali rahu ura
    mmmm.......mmmm......... "

The song is an advice to the baby.

    Listen to your mother
    Listen to your father
    Do not listen to a stranger
    Keep awake by day
    Sleep at night.

In other words, keep the family flag flying.

Precarious Childhood

My childhood was a challenged one. After a year or two of birth, I developed problem in my right eye. "Nwangwu" it was called. Nwangwu was a name for an eye defect or undiagnosed eye disease. There was no hospital to go to. A native doctor was invited who applied liquid of a native herb to the eye. In course of the treatment, a white spot developed in the eye covering the retina. The white spot was surgically removed in 1966 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Umuahia Abia State.

Part of the precarious life was an escape from accidental sudden death. Humphrey Umezurike of blessed memory was harvesting some native pear (ube) from a tree of about 200 yards high. The harvesting stick (ngu) which was about 30 feet long mistakenly fell off from his hand. The ngu pierced into my face and caused endless ooze of blood. Everyone present including myself panicked for help which never came.. I could have died instantly had the ngu pierced into my brain. An adult arrived at the scene forty five minutes later. Before then my naked body had been blanketed with a pool of blood. Someone suggested I should be taken to Ihungwu- a clinic that is five miles away at a neighboring town Uzii. It is five miles away driving but by trekking, it was a two hours walk. The latter was the only option. By the time we arrived at Ihungwu,a dark thick clot of blood had blanketed my face and body. Ihungwu, unfortunately had no facility to assist me. Painfully iodine liquid was spread on my face and we were ready to walk back to Osina. That I survived the ordeal was a divine intervention. The scar is still on my face.

As a child I was not controversial in any form. I looked and behaved agreeable and relatively compromising. This led to my being attached to my father's third wife, Egeolu. I was a baby sitter to Egeolu's daughter Sussanah until she was grown as a baby. My attachment to Egeolu made me a loveable child to Egeolu's Uzii family. She always decorated me with "uri". Uri is a decorating liquid got from a fruit of uri tree. Each time I accompanied her to Uzii during festivals like (igba nta) which was a hunting festival at Uzii, I was made to look special. From childhood, I was music oriented. I was the youngest participant in "Egwu ogele" dance. This was an artful and energetic adult male dance performed during the celebration of memorable events. During the egwu ogele dance I was an instrumentalist. I played the "okwa" which was a wooden instrument.

I was also a participant in my age grade traditional dance "Aputa Ututu" dance. The aputa ututu dance thrilled the people not only by the performance of the dancers but the Igbo name aputa ututu which means wake up in the morning dance. The title connotes that only people who wake up can dance- the dead cannot dance. You have to wake up healthy to dance. Sometimes we are invited to perform based on the title of the dance.

These extra curricular family engagements delayed or deprived me going to school. My other brothers were not so affected and so they started early. I was the last to start going to school among my brothers. In the words of Augustine Umenwekwe of Osina, "I started where they stopped." And so it was. With a little maturity, I started schooling with less enthusiasm though. I did Elementary one class with people like Amos Obiekwe at Saint John's School Osina. Thereafter my late brother Agodi took me to live with him at Minna, Niger State. There I started my elementary school all over again at Saint Peter's Anglican School Minna in 1950. Agodi was a tailor by trade. I assisted him when I returned from school in sewing button holes and fixing buttons on shirts and trousers that he made. Agodi had no formal education but he was anxious to see me get a good education. He permitted me to go to Church choir at Saint Andrew's Church Minna. My singing in the choir helped me develop interest in church music which eventually led me to become a church organist in later life.


At Minna my brother Agodi shared an apartment house with Mr and Mrs Christopher Ogbudike who was a brick layer by trade. In the same apartment was Samuel Nnorom who renamed me Obioma. Samuel was also a brick layer. Sharing the apartment was another Osina man, Simon, who was a palm oil trader then. Simon travelled from Minna to Onitsha to buy palm oil which he brought by lorry in tins and drums to Minna. He sold the palm oil either in tins or measured and sold in gallons or beer bottles to end users and house wives. My life at Minna was memorable as I was surrounded by peace loving and non greedy adults who loved and shared life with one another. No one fought each other over possession or wealth acquisition. All shared and cherished one another. Greed and materialism was not in existence. Everyone was his brother's keeper. They shared possession in common as Christians. Only Christopher Ogbudike was married then but that did not pose problem to anyone. It was an easy going life for all. Mrs Grace Ogbudike later became my Christian Baptismal mother.

Mr Ogbudike instilled brevity and manly stature into me. We lived in an area occupied by the Hausa families. I could not speak the Hausa language so the Hausa children molested me all over. I was often singled out for an attack and harassment everyday.

In one occasion I was planning how to escape their wrath when Mr Ogbudike from no where appeared. I was fighting back with timidity. Ogbudike stopped other boys who were there to assist the boy who attacked me first. Mr Ogbudike encouraged me to fight back and allowed two of us to slog it out. We fought to our tiredness. He then separated us and we left. Hence forth we all became friends. Molestation stopped. Some boys invited me to their homes later on and occasionally they visited me. I moved about freely. I had no opportunity to meet any of them at school because Hausa boys did not go to mission school where I was. They went to middle schools where Arabic and Hausa languages were taught for free. I have a mixed feelings with my Hausa experience It was a requirement for growing up in life.

Agodi later rented a store for his trade and an apartment for our residence. It was at Minna that Agodi and I suffered a devastating tragedy of our life. The house we lived in was gutted by fire. The fire started at Minna general market. Our house was half a block from the market. The fire started late in the evening at the market and was fanned by ferocious wind. In less than two minutes, the fire spread with all tenacity within the environ. As the fire fanned itself towards our direction, I removed my most valued possession- my school bag. I took my school bag from the house to the porch where I thought I would easily pick it up should the need arise. But when the inferno arrived, it was so terrifying that I never remembered my bag rather I ran for my dear life. Everything we owned was gutted. My brother Agodi was able to retrieve his sewing machine as that was his business capital. We were sheltered in a house nearby to start life all over. I still brood not over my school books but for personal belongings like my childhood portraits and group photograph of my years in elementary school. I lost the faces of my infant classmates regrettably. The closest distant relations Agodi and myself had were the family of Mr and Mrs David Okoro of Ajali, Orumba LGA. Their daughters Clara and Felicia were fund of me as a child.

I graduated from elementary school in 1956. I could not go to secondary school for lack of fund. I went to Preliminary Training Class (PTC) at Kano. The PTC was a preparatory class for students who would go into teaching profession. The PTC was a one year course and was located at Holy Trinity Elementary School Sabongari Kano.

It was during my stay at PTC that I encountered an experience which I would not and cannot relive in my life. The first time I answered a telephone call in my life as a child was a tale of terror. A slip was delivered to me by Post and Telegraph (P&T) which was in charge of telegrams and telephones then. The slip invited me to come and receive a telephone call. Unsuspectingly, I asked my friend Maxwell Amaefule to walk me there. Thank God he did. The P&T was about two miles from PTC dormitory at Emir Road Kano. At the appointed time, I went into the telephone booth. Low and behold, it was my brother Agodi calling. What did I hear? "This is to tell you that our mother died" I got frozen. I could not hear or see. Maxwell had the telephone receiver drop down and the booth door opened unexpectedly. Tears dripping from my eyes like a cup of water poured away. As I whispered my tragedy, Maxwell himself burst into tears. He was more courageous than me. He led me by hand back to the dormitory and I laid down in grief for days without food. Maxwell did save my life.

I spent one year in PTC under Miss Miller as principal. From PTC, I passed entrance examination to go to Saint Peter's College Zaria. This was a Teachers' Training College. We spent one year at Samaru Zaria and Saint Peter's was relocated to Kawo in Kaduna. The Samaru compound was taken over by Amoudu Bello University Zaria.

At Kaduna I was united with Mr and Mrs David Okoro's family. Their second daughter, Felicia was my class mate at Saint Peter's School Minna. Felicia could have accidentally cut off my four left fingers at Minna. We were playing in her father's house as children. She hit me and I ran after her. She ran into her father's bed room. I followed her and she took up a sharp knife in a sheet which she and I thought it was a stick. She raised it up against me and I grabbed it with my left hand assuming it was a stick. She pulled it. My three fingers were deeply cut. Blood oozed and both of us went into weeping and crying. Weeping because I was hurt, crying because how dare her go into her father's bed room to play. There was no adult to assist us. We ran into a neighbor's house where the cut was bandaged before I went to the hospital. Mrs Okoro was born at Urualla, Ideato LGA. The first shoes that I wore was a gift from Okoro's daughter Clara.

I graduated from Saint Peter's College in 1959. I was posted to Anglican School Agyaragu. My headmaster, Mr Oyeka a native of Alor in Anambra State, attached me to the Church Catechist residence. Mr Anumihe gave me one room in his house. At Agyaragu, I was a school teacher and the church choirmaster.

I met Mr Mbadugha of Isiekenesie at Agyaragu. His daughter Benedeth was in my class. Mr Mbadugha was a friend and a mentor. He encouraged me to go into yam farming. I had such a bountiful harvest one year that the laborers who harvested my yams decided to bury some yams so that they could collect them later. They were ashamed when this trick was discovered. Miriam Umezuruike lived with me at Agyaragu.

I was transferred to Emmanuel School North Bank Makurdi as school/ church teacher.


Excerpted from The Escape by JOSEPH O. E. OHANUGO Copyright © 2011 by JOSEPH O. E. OHANUGO. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER ONE The childhood and the early education of Joseph....................1
CHAPTER TWO Life in Lincoln University as a student....................33
CHAPTER THREE The Return of Joseph to Nigeria....................47
CHAPTER FOUR The Brotherhood Business in Nigeria....................53
CHAPTER FIVE The Challenges of Working in American Schools....................75
CHAPTER SIX Getting Married at Osina....................85

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