Apostolate of Language and Linguistics: a Festschrift in Honour of Professor Emmanuel Okonkwo Ezeani
Appreciation is both mundane and spiritual dating from the encounter Jesus had with ten lepers. I, therefore have biblical precedent to say a heartfelt that you to friends, colleagues, mentors and students for expending time and financial resources to contribute to my festschrift. Both aspects serve the same humble purpose of working in tandem with God’s purpose of exuding love and cooperation with mankind.
The Igbo believe that charity must emanate from home. I am, therefore, compelled to first and foremost recognize my late auntie Veronica Mgbocha Ebosie of Onitsha (née Ezeoke). She painstakingly took care of me, sequel to the demise of my biological mother barely six months after my birth. God used her and her siblings Joseph, Charles and Fredrick to make me what I am today. I remember with unparalled gratitude my cousins
G.O.G. Ume-Ezeoke, Igwe Alphonsus Ezeoke, Philip Orji Ume-Ezeoke, Christopher Ezeoke (Mayor of Opobo) now Ikot Abasi, and of course, Rt. Hon. Edwin Ume-Ezeoke former speaker of the House of Representatives. They all played life-saving roles in my life, morally and financially. Barring their contributions to my progress, I doubt whether this festschrift would have been a reality.
Talking about my early education, I cannot appreciate enough my late brother Michael, he was the first to take me to school. My late brother Anthony also played a crucial role in my education. So were my late cousin Boniface and my late brother Vincent, with Veronica Ebosie, taking the lead.
Many humane personalities made genuinely spirited contributions to my success. Late Job Aginam taught me the first word of French at All Hallows’, Onitsha. Providentially, I later taught the daughter, Joan at Anambra State College of Education, Awka. A brilliant student, she won a scholarship to France. Rev. Fr. J.N. McNulty C.S.Sp. was instrumental to my taking French at London GCE O/L. Fr. McNulty’s plan for me to work on relief programme with a German Jesuit Rev. Fr. Rhulmam in Gabon during later part of Biafra- Nigeria war (1967 – 1970) was mindlessly vitiated by a top official of the Biafran administration who replaced me with a woman bearing identical surname. I stayed at Caritas headquarters Ihioma as French interpreter during the later period of the war. I was on ground at Ihioma to receive French Radio and Television Team to Biafra.
I vividly remember all my teachers who showed special interest in my progress at all
levels of my education, starting with late John Mgbemena at St. Eugenia’s Primary School, Amichi through All Hallows’ Seminary, Onitsha. At University of Lagos College of Education Akoka, Yaba, Lagos, my gratitude goes to my Head of Department, Madam Calouhn, the UNESCO specialist, Mr. Awidson, Dr. D.O. Olagoke, late Prof. Abiola Irele, Prof. Johnson, Dr. Ajiboye and Mrs. Balogun. Mr. Bartissol, translation specialist took over at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. In addition to making me excel in translation, he prepared me for a career in academics.
Prof. C.A.E. Jensen, Head, Department of French and Spanish, University of Monitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba was God’s ready instrument for launching me into academics. Prof awarded me graduate teaching assistantship which facilitated my pursuit of studies for M.A degree in French language and literature. In a special manner, I am highly indebted to Dr. Marantz who proof read my M.A. thesis at Manitoba.
Prof Larry Hyman of the University of Southern California, USA, inspired me with zeal for publications in academic journals. Prof. was to supervise my Ph.D. thesis in linguistics; he has a special place in my mind, on account of his unreserved enthusiasm for my personal uplift. I wish to thank, in a special way, the Head and the entire staff of the Department of linguistics University of Wisconsin, Madison, U.S.A. In 1983, their unalloyed hospitality facilitated my collection of relevant materials and research for my Ph.D. thesis.
Back to University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada, I reminisce the cordial interactions with my amiable Professors. Can I ever forget Prof. Bonenfant who conveyed me from Sherbrooke bus stop to the university campus on arrival from Nigeria in 1981? It was an indelible act of kindness and hospitality. I still remember with ever green feeling of nostalgia the cordiality between me and my second supervisor, Prof. Jean-Marcel Leard, who manifested rare kindness by purchasing a book for me from his research grant. Prof. Antoine Naaman was equally kind to me, Prof. Marie-ThérèseVinet, my main supervisor was like a mother to me. She encouraged and guided me to chomskian theoretical linguistics. My appreciation of the quebécois group remains incomplete without mentioning my external examiner, African languages specialist, Prof. Lowenstein of the University of Montréal, Québec, Canada.
The onus is on me to appreciate Joseph Okoli’s efforts to secure my reinstatement at Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe, despite serious opposition from those who had benefitted from me. In this connection, Mr. Mrs. S.U.N. Okeke deserves commendation for her spirited efforts to ensure that I was reabsorbed.
I appreciate my colleagues at Anambra State College of Education Awka, Nigeria French Language Village Badagry, too numerous to mention; University of Port-Harcourt, especially Minimah deserve my gratitude for his exceptional camaraderie.
Nothing original will be said about my sojourn at Nnamdi Azikiwe University without vociferous TeDeuin to Profs. EmekaMbanugo, Godwin Onyekaonwu (Nwatarieawo), Anyaegbunam and of course late OkeyUmeh of happy memory, with whom I shared office space at Ifite end of NAU Campus. Prof. Pita Ejiofor, the Vice-Chancellor deserves my gratitude for approving my appointment, while my Head of Department Prof. Julie Agbasiere was happy to add me to the number her academic staff. I remember my great mentor Emeritus Prof. Rob Egwuatu.
In the print media where I have sustainable interest, I shall particularly remain grateful to Alhaji Babatunde Ajose, Arioye Oyebola, Dr. Hezy Idowu, Dr. Olu Onagoruwa, Alhaji Abbakura, Dr. Tunde Otegbeye whom I helped research for his autobiography. By working
with the Daily Times, for two academic years: 1972/1973 and 1973/1974, I made substantial amount of money to finance my studies at the University of Nigeria.
In the ecclesia, I owe immense gratitude to His Lordships late Bishops, Godffrey Okoye, Michael Eneje, and Emmanuel Otteh. I thank in a special way His Lordship Hilary Paul OdiliOkeke, the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese for the committed role he played to facilitate my appointment to NAU, Awka. I enjoy beneficial relationship with a good number of priests and religious viz: Rev. Fr. Simon Emeanuo, C.S.Sp., Msgrs. Emmanuel Nwosu, Boniface Asuzu, Rev. Frs. Elias Anyaorah, Daniel Ileka among many others, too numerous to mention.
I sincerely appreciate my selfless colleagues, Drs. Davidson Mbagwu, Felicia Asadu, Olivia Ezeafulukwe, Scholar Ezeodili and Linda Nkamigbo, who despite time constraints have worked assiduously for the success of this festschrift.
In my long and arduous march to success, I have come in contact with many persons whom Almighty God programmed to add to my progress. It is not humanly possible for me to recollect all of them and the circumstance. I most humbly pray Almighty God to bless and reward everyone a million fold. This festschrift is dedicated to all of them, in my most humble and sincere gratitude.
As a child, Emmanuel Okonkwo Ezeasunyuo-Eke (Ezeani) arrived this crusty earth on the 19th day of January, 1948, the last of five male siblings. He had as parents, Ezikeakuanaonwu and Mgbafocha (nee Ezeoke) who were later converted to Christianity, as Joachim and Susanne. Both parents were indigenes of Uhunweke quarters, Umumediana kindred, Amichi in Nnewi South Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria.
A dispassionate appraisal of Emmanuel’s intellectual disposition affirms that he had a brilliant scholarly walk of life which spanned forty-two years (1976 – 2018).
Emmanuel had his primary school formation at St. Eugenia’s Amichi, St. Joseph’s, Onitsha. He attended All Hallows’ Seminary, Onitsha. An alumnus of University of Lagos, College of Education, Akoka Yaba, Lagos.
Emmanuel is a member of the class of 75, Department of Languages (French), University of Nigeria, Nsukka. On graduation, he placed second class honours (upper division). Emmanuel was a 1975 University of Nigeria Nsukka scholar. He wrote his degree papers on 4.0 cumulative grade point average (CGPA) on a 4.0 point grading system, thus, missing first class degree by a whisker. Emmanuel’s class of degree facilitated his award of teaching assistantship, to enable him pursue studies towards M.A. degree at The University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. His duties consisted of a maximum of 6 hours of teaching laboratory exercises during the period of his employment, beginning (September 1, 1976 to March 31, 1977).
While on M.A. degree programme at Menitoba, Emmanuel by a letter dated 25 November, 1976, was awarded a doctoral scholarship by the French government to study French literature at the University of Tours, Tours, France. But he continued with his studies at Manitoba. Emmanuel successfully completed all course work and thesis requirements for the M.A. degree in French language and literature in seven (07) months. He was awarded this degree at the Spring Convocation held on May 25, 1977.
Sequel to Emmanuel’s graduation, Professor C.A.E. Jensen, Head Department of French and Spanish at Manitoba wrote on his student thus, “He was an energetic and strongly motivated student who completed course requirements and thesis for the M.A. degree in French language and literature in time to graduate at the coming May Convocation. This has happened only a few times before, in the long period of my work in this Department, most students taking an appreciably longer time to complete all requirements for the Master’s degree. I can certainly recommend Mr. Ezeani as a thoroughly reliable and conscientious student who can be counted upon to complete whatever academic task is given him”.238248