By ‘Femi Asu
“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” ― Lemony Snicket
That indeed captures my mood that black night when the bad news of her sudden death hit me like a bomb blast. No sooner had I logged into Facebook around 11:00 on Monday night than my eyes caught a post by Vincent Nzemeke, a member of our pen family, Campuslife. It read thus: “RIP Ngozi Agbo, God be with you till we meet again!” I just could not believe my eyes. It immediately sent shivers down my spines; goose pimples began to suffuse my body; tears were welling up in my eyes; my heart was thumping with trepidation. I needed someone to tell me I read the wrong thing. I queried loudly: “No, Aunty Ngozi…It’s not possible!” I was still chanting in dismay when my phone rang. It was Opeyemi Dibua, another member of the Campuslife family. I said to my brother whose attention my chanting had attracted: “It is finished. So it is true? Ope wants to tell me about it.” I picked the call; the story was no different: Aunty Ngozi is dead!
She needs little or no introduction. Indeed, she was an amazing amazon: tall and strong. She bestrode the journalism firmament like a colossus, armed with a “tall” dream (as tall as the biblical Tower of Babel) and a strong determination. Her dream was to salvage the future of the Nigerian youths; to raise role models in a depraved society through the instrumentality of the media. So, she launched into her dream, believing passionately in its reality and efficacy. And then she hit the ground running.
Over the years, her brainchild has immensely impacted positively on the lives of many young people. Mrs. Ngozi Nwozor-Agbo, the initiator, and editor before her death, of the famed “Campuslife” in The Nation newspaper, was truly a trail blazer; patently a pacesetter, and really a record breaker! I call her a journalistic Amazon. She was a mentor, a teacher, a source of inspiration, a friend, a change-agent, an enabler of dreams…
Just like yesterday, she started Campuslife, proudly sponsored by Coca-Cola Nigeria plc and Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Plc. Today, on many campuses, Campuslife, nay The Nation, has become a household name. Many students have now cultivated the wholesome habit of reading a newspaper, courtesy of Campuslife. Campuslife is now many a student’s delight as they look forward to every Thursday to read the news from various campuses. To put it mildly, her initiative is a giant leap for mankind, if I am to borrow the words of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
Until I started reading The Nation in 2008, I did not know her from Adam. I happened to meet her for the first time in March 2009 at a seminar held in Lagos at Hallifield schools, Maryland , organized by Mrs. Rosemary Onyebigwa, CEO of Selective Insightz Limited. She was one of the facilitators and I enjoyed her speech titled “Attitude: the Success Determinant”. I was glad to meet with the woman who had been publishing my articles. She was very accomodating and self-effacing.
Aunty Ngozi literally boosted my desire to continue writing for Campuslife. She often told me, “Femi, you write well, but I have issues with the pictures you send.” I had to improvise since I did not own a camera then. I remember particularly the feature story I did about the failed promise of the Yar’Adua-led government to generate 6000 megawatts in 2009, she had to tell me to resend the pictures.
I deemed it necessary to do this piece basically because her brainchild, Campuslife, has tremendously helped me in broadening my journalistic horizons.
She will eternally be etched in my memory because she made positive indelible impact on me. I cannot forget in hurry her editing of parts of my yet-to-be-published manuscript; her contribution will no doubt be acknowledged.
Since its inception, Campuslife has provided a platform for students in higher institutions to make their voice heard; it has given many, like me, an avenue to sharpen their writing skills. Campuslife is, unarguably, the first of its kind in the history of the Nigerian press as far as campus journalism or student reporting is concerned. Students are given a rare opportunity to practice journalism, as it were, irrespective of their disciplines.
Aunty Ngozi was able to make Campuslife what it is today, not because she was the editor, but because she was able to get along with young people. She related and interacted with us as a mentor. Her weekly column “Pushing Out” spoke volumes about her passion towards the betterment of the future of the Nigerian youths. She did a wonderful job co-ordinating Campuslife with over 100 correspondents across the nation.
All said and done, she was a journalistic amazon. She was a woman who distinguished herself, pursuing the noble cause of impacting the Nigerian youth positively.
O death, how dare you snatched our Amazon?! The matriach of our pen family you took away. But death you failed! It’s a lost battle for you. Can a cobweb entrap an elephant? Never. Though Aunty Ngozi is no more here, but her influence will forever remain with us. As Samuel Butler said; “To die completely is to be forgotten; he who dies and is not forgotten lives forever.” We cannot forget her in a hurry; she lives in our hearts because she made inroads into our lives; her impact were immeasurable. Adieu, Aunty Ngozi!
This is indeed a sad reminder for all of us that we are not here to stay forever. Like it or lump it, one day we will be evicted from this reality show called Life. Our deeds during this great show, and not the fact that we are evicted, will determine our eternal bliss or eternal blues!
Let me leave you with the immortal words of Stephen Grellet:
“You shall pass through this world but once. If, therefore, there is any good thing you can do or any kindness that you can show any human being, please do it now; do not defer it or neglect it, for you shall not pass this way again.” (Adapted)