A cursory glance at the historical evolution of the life of Sir. Emmanuel Nwafor Kanu, K.S.J.I reveals the peculiar history of a sage, with a particularity unlike the inferno of a revolution that has moved with a swaggering gait, transmuting the retinues of life's fundamental forces into an edifice that would stand the test of time. Mazi E. N. Kanu, popularly known as Onuo Obichie, hails from Arondizuogu, a centre of ancient civilization and culture. He is the son of the great legend, Mazi Kanu Nwankwo (Otigbu Inyinya) and Mrs Mary Ubani Kanu (Omenwa), a woman of cultural sensitivity and sturdy character on various fronts, both of NdiAkunwanta Arondizuogu, Ideato North Local Government, Imo State. From the hands of Otigbu Inyinya and Omenwa, Onuo Obichie received the fundamental cultural and human formation that set the parameters for the future. His parentage is at the base of his self-awareness, self-confidence and sense of mystery.

In 1942, at a time when literary groups, trade unions and smaller political organizations were beginning to set the parameters for the Nationalistic climate, with emerging provocative and challenging questions on issues affecting their people, Sir E. N. Kanu moved to the present day Delta State for his early education at Saint Patrick's Catholic School, Asaba. At St Parick's, he did Infant I, II and III classes. The credit for this foundation goes to his cousin Mazi Edward N. Okoli (Ozuomba), the then branch manager of L. P. Ojukwu Transport Company Ltd. He continued his primary education at Saint Joseph's Catholic School, Onitsha as a result of his cousin’s relocation to Onitsha to start his own business. In 1949, Emmanuel was sent back to his parents. Hence, he completed his primary school education at Saint Philip's Catholic School, Akeme Uno Arondizuogu in 1951. In 1952, he was offered teaching appointment as a result of his good performance in the First School Leaving Certificate Examination. He however, rejected the offer, partly because his application to go for Probationary Teacher's Course (P.T.C) was not approved and partly because his elder brother, Frank and maternal uncle Mazi Anagboso Nnadi encouraged him to take the trading option. That same year, his uncle referred to earlier invited him to Ibeagwa, Nsukka and helped him to start trading in palm oil. After two years, the business began falling. He read the handwriting on the wall and packed it up. Thus, between 1954 and 1956, Emmanuel was at home helping his mother in her farm work. His navigation from one sphere of the reality of life to another is at the base of his flexible personality and persistence, fundamentally expressed in his ability to adapt to new and changing circumstances.

One day, his uncle Mazi Jonas O. Nwankwo (Okaaomee) came home from Onitsha with some newspapers containing some short articles. After going through these articles, the thought of going back to school came to Emmanuel. Like an exorcist, the articles on the papers conjured his mortified spirit to thread on new grounds. Realizing that the best way to achieve this was through the classroom, he applied for teaching appointment. On February 10, 1956, he got his appointment letter and was deployed to Saint Joseph's Catholic School, Akunwanta, Arondizuogu as a pupil teacher. In July that year, he sat for the Teachers' Grading Examination. He did so well that the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Cunningham recommended him for a two year training programme at Xavier Training College, Bende. At the end of the course in 1958, he was awarded the Teachers Grade III Certificate. Instead of preparing for the Teachers Grade II Examination, he decided to read for the General Certificate Examination (G.C.E) Ordinary Level. He registered with Wolsey Hall, Oxford, England for private tuition and in 1961, he obtained his G.C.E O'Level Certificate. Spurred by this achievement, he applied to Methodist College Uzoakoli for admission to do the Higher School Certificate Course. He gained admission in 1962 and in 1963 he completed the programme and the coveted Higher School Certificate (H.S.C) issued by the University of Cambridge.

On completion of his H.S.C programme he took up teaching appointment with the National High School, Arondizuogu his sponsor in 1964. As the desire to succeed increases by succeeding, he applied to the University of Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay for admission to do B.A. Generalia in 1967. His application was successful but the Nigerian Civil War raging at the time prevented him from travelling out. Instead he joined the Emergency Timber Production as Evaluation Officer charged with the responsibility of supplying timber to the Biafran Army Engineers wherever it was needed to prosecute the Civil War. He worked with the Biafran Army Engineers for the duration of the Civil war. When the war ended in 1970, he was employed by Obioha Transport Company (O.T.C) as Transport Manager; a position he held until 1976 when he went back to teaching.

While serving with O.T.C, he found his missing rib, in the person of Miss Cecilia Menwa Onwuka, the first daughter of Mazi Nelson Enebeke Onwuka (Agbaeze) and his wife Mrs Bessie Epunamechi Onwuka (Ude buruzo) of Ndi Okereke Idozuka in Ndi Akunwanta, Arondizuogu. They got married on 23rd December 1972 at Saint James Catholic Church, Ndiawa Arondizuogu. Their marriage was blessed with seven children- three boys and four girls.

In deference to his fervent desire to make a mark in and contribute to the academic world, Emmanuel left the services of O.T.C and returned to teaching in 1976. He was recruited by the Imo State Teachers Service Commission, Owerri and posted to Saint Catherine's Girls Secondary School, Nkwere, to teach history. He was assigned to Form V to handle the West African School Certificate Class in History. At this junction, it is pertinent to observe that his posting to Saint Catherine's Girls Secondary School, Nkwere to teach was the third time he made a 'U' turn to take a teaching appointment. Little did he know then that the teaching profession was the pivot upon which his destiny was hinged. His stay at Saint Catherine's Girls Secondary School was short but remarkable. The 1977 WAEC result of his students in history was so good that the Principal of the school, Mrs. Umealo had to write a commendation letter and send to him at the University of Nigeria (UNN) where he gained admission in 1977 to read education/history; thanks to his uncle Sir Jonas O. Nwakwo (KSJI) for his moral and financial support.

On completion of his academic programme in 1981, he was sent to Holy Cross Seminary, Ishielu Nsukka for his primary assignment to complete his National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme. There he taught 'history' and 'government' to Junior Seminarians. It is instructive to observe that his third son, who is a Reverend Father today was born in his service year and baptized in the seminary chapel. By the end of the National Service Year, he attended Federal Civil Service interview in Lagos. Consequent upon his success at the interview, he was posted to Federal College of Education, Yola as Education Officer on level VIII. Since he had not been to the north before, the fear of the unknown made the offer unattractive. However, he screwed up courage and travelled to Yola and accepted the offer of appointment in September 1982. This event opened for him another vista of opportunity to realize his dream of making an impact on the field of academics. When the Federal Colleges of education became autonomous in 1991 the ranking of officers changed from education Officers to Lecturers. The slogan: publish or perish was sounded into his ears, thus blowing the whistle for the race to the various ranks in the grading scheme. By the grace of God and dint of hard work, he rose to the rank of Chief lecturer, equivalent to an Associate Professor in 2000.

While he was on the track doing the promotion race, he was cautious of the need to read for a higher degree. In 1984, the University of Jos offered him admission to do M. Ed (guidance and Counseling- part time). He was at that time the Coordinator, Affiliation Affairs for the College and had to combine this assignment with the part time M. Ed programme. Again by the special grace of God, the programme was successfully completed in 1986. In the Federal College of Education, Yola, the name Kanu was synonymous with educational psychology- an aspect of education he handled for twenty years in the College.

Besides his involvement in the classroom at the three levels of NCE programme, Emmanuel had his fair share of administrative responsibilities in the College. They include:

  1. Secretary, Board of Studies, F.C.E Yola, 1985-1986
  2. Secretary, Security Committee, F.C.E Yola, 1989-1989
  3. Editor, Dougirei Journal of Education, F.C.E Yola,1995-1997
  4. Chairman, Ceremonies Committee, F.C.E Yola, 1992-1995
  5. Chairman, Sevurity Committee, F.C.E Yola, 1993-1994
  6. Chairman, F. C. E. Demonstration Primary School Management Board, 1995
  7. Dean, School of Education, F.C.E Yola,1997-1999
  8. Deputy Provost, F.C.E Yola, 2000-2003
  9. Acting Provost, F.C.E Yola, 2003-2004

Furthermore, he was able to render services to other academic institutions as follows:

  1. Visiting Senior Fellow, Federal University of Technology, Yola, Department of PostgraduateStudies PGDE programme, 1994-1995.
  2. Examiner (NCE II and III Educational Psychology), Institute of Education, ABU Zaria, 1983.
  3. Examiner (Teaching Practice), Institute of Education, ABU Zaria, NCE by Correspondence,
  4. Examiner (Principles of Education I and II), National Teachers Institute, Kaduna, 1984.
  5. External Examiner, College of Education, Jalingo, Taraba State (Educational Psychology),
  6. Member, NCCE Accreditation Team for NCE Courses, 1993.
  7. Member, NCE Courses Accreditation Team Tatari Polytechnic Bauchi, 1996.

In addition to his teaching and related experience, he has to his credit a number of publications too numerous to mention here. His membership of learned societies include:

  1. Counseling Association of Nigeria (CASSON)
  2. Nigerian Association of educational Psychologists (NAEP)
  3. Association of Promoting Quality Education in Nigeria (APQEN)
  4. Nigerian Association of educationists for National Development (NAEND)

Emmanuel is an ardent Christian- a devoted member of the Catholic Church. He was not only an invaluable asset to the academia but also to the Church. He served the Holy Catholic Church in various capacities:

  1. Secretary, Building Committee, Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, Akunwanta, Arondizuogu1955-1957
  2. Secretary, Harvest and Bazaar Committee, Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, Akunwanta,
    Arondizuogu 1959-1961
  3. Member, Development Committee, Saint Theresa's Catholic Cathedral, Yola, Adamawa State1998-2000
  4. Member, Catholic Diocese of Yola Development Committee (CODC) 2001-2007
  5. Chairman, Building Committee, Saint Augustine's College, Mayo Belwa, Adamawa State
  6. Member, Board of Trustees, Saint Augustine's College, Mayo Belwa, Adamawa State 2001-2004

By the special grace of God, he happens to be one of the parishioners whose names are written in gold in Saint Theresa's Catholic Cathedral, Yola, Adamawa State. To have accepted the extremely difficult synthesis of his responsibilities in the academia with the demanding responsibilities of his worshiping community, shows that he is a man who has sacrificed himself to the imperatives of faith and scholarship.

His commitment to the church and service to humanity earned him, among others, the following merit awards:

  1. ‘Outstanding President of the Year’ by Jos Grand Commandery, Knights of Saint John
    International (KSJI) 2003.
  2. ‘Successful Twenty-Five Years and above of life of fidelity to the Sacrament of Matrimony’ bySaint Theresa's Catholic Cathedral, Yola, Adamawa State 2004.
  3. For dedication, service and commitment to the Noble and Ancient Order of Knights of SaintJohn International (KSJI), Saint Theresa’s Commandery 507 Yola, 2008.
  4. For commitment, dedication and numerous contributions to the growth and development of theCatholic Church by Saint Theresa’s Catholic Cathedral, Yola, Adamawa State 2010.
  5. Meritorious service award as Deputy Provost, by Federal College of Education, Yola 2012.
  6. ‘In recognition of your immense contributions towards the growth of CMO and the Church’ byHoly Trinity CMO, World Bank, New Owerri 2013.
  7. ‘Archdiocesan Pillar (IDEJIULO) Award’ by Owerri Archdiocesan Council of Men Organization(OACCMO) 2013.

His initiation into the Order of Knights of Saint John International was in 1995 when he was presented by St Theresa’s Commandery507 Yola. He later became the worthy President of the Commandery as well as a Grand Officer of Jos Grand Commandery. It is worthy to note that he has been exemplified into the 2nd, 3rd , 4th and 5th degrees in the Order and he is today known and addressed as a Noble Brother. The Order of Knights of Saint John International is a paramilitary Organization and he has attained the rank of Major in the Order. While he is generally addressed as Sir Emmanuel Nwafor Kanu, his fellow Knights in the Commandery may address him as Noble Brother, Major Emmanuel N. Kanu.

Following his retirement in 2007 and consequent disengagement from Federal College of Education Yola, Adamawa State, Sir Emmanuel N. Kanu decided to move nearer home. When his wife Cecilia, also a lecturer in the same college retired in 2009, the family relocated to Owerri, Imo State in 2010. He rented a house at No. 20 Inno Ejike Crescent, Area 'M', World Bank, New Owerri. In 2015, he moved into his family house at Irete, Owerri West. Here at Irete, where he enjoys the delight of the clean air and unspoilt views, he spends most of his time praying and counseling the many who are attentive to wisdom.

Emmanuel Nwafor Kanu
June, 2018.

On the fateful morning of the 29th day of August, 2020, it pleased God to call his servant Mazi (Sir) Emmanuel Nwafor Kanu. We give God glory and honour for the life of our husband, brother, father, grandfather and father-in-law and friend. You were quintessentially our revered hero; Onuobichie, Aka ji ofo Okoli Idozuka.

Sir. Emmanuel Nwafor Kanu (1932-2020) TRIBUTES    

No. 8 Emmanuel Kanu Close, Irete,
Owerri West LGA, Imo State, Nigeria