174 Views

How I Left My Property During Biafra Civil War To Save My Life – 81-Year-old Businessman Speaks Up

An elderly retired businessman has opened up on how he had to flee for his dear life, abandoning his property during the Biafran war.
Ikeme Alphonsus
A retired business man and farmer, Ikeme Alphonsus, 81, talks about his life and career with MOTUNRAYO JOEL
Tell us about yourself.
I was born on April 5, 1936 in Onitsha in the old eastern Nigeria. I am the second of 11 children and the first son of my parents.
How are you able to recollect your year of birth vividly?
It is because at the time of my birth in 1936, Adolf Hitler was getting ready to invade Poland and other countries in continental Europe and the events leading to World War II were well on course. I was only three years old when the war eventually began in 1939. My father left soon after to fight in the war, a journey that took him around the world, with the bulk of his time spent in Myanmar (Burma) in Asia and India. The stories he told me about his trips helped to shape my childhood and youth.
Tell us the schools you attended.
I attended St. Thomas Primary School, Oraukwu in Anambra State. I lived with my parents in Oraukwu throughout my schooling days. But like the close family we were, holidays were spent in my uncle’s house at Onitsha. My admission to Washington Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha, was never honoured because as the first son, the responsibility of taking care of my younger siblings required that I get a job. I took up employment first as a hotel manager, then a carpenter, transporter, and eventually an agricultural officer and a cloth merchant. My entrepreneurial spirit was such that I was restless and was always seeking to improve my circumstance hence the need to move from one profession to another until I settled on dealing in clothing.
In your days, the desire to travel abroad to better one’s life was common. Was that the same for you?
I felt no desire to travel abroad. I was one of those that saw the opportunities in agriculture very early and so rather than travel abroad, I went to secure a slot in the eastern Nigerian farm settlement scheme where I acquired a large portion of land for raising both cash and food crops.
Did you establish a company from the proceeds you made?
Yes, in fact, I have set up multiple businesses in my life time. The first was a carpentry workshop I started soon after I left school. Then my interest in agriculture led me to apply and obtain a piece of farmland through the Eastern Nigeria Farm Settlement Scheme with which I planted and sold food and cash crops. Finally, I set up AlphPat Fancy Goods Store, which sold items of clothing in 1970. It was the business I ran for 45 years till I retired from active service in 2015.
How did you meet your wife?
I met her during the civil war in 1969. Our meeting was the handiwork of my late sister, Mrs. Lucy Okeke. Like all sisters, my sisters were very protective of me and worked to have a say in who would become my wife. They felt that being the first son, I would need a good, God-fearing wife that would help hold the family, set good example for the younger wives of my brothers as well as serve as a mentor to them.
How did you feel when you first met her?
The minute I set my eyes on my wife, I fell in love with her. And 48 years later, we have built a strong and closely knit family of two sons and two daughters, two sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, nine grandchildren and counting.
What attracted you to her?
My wife has the most desirable qualities any man would want in a wife. She is beautiful both on the outside and inside. I remember the first time I was introduced to her by my sister. I remember how self-assured and humble she was. A conversation with her revealed a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Her God-focused view of life quickly drew me to her and I knew I was in love.
Didn’t you have other female admirers before meeting her?
I did. You are right. Quite a few women took notice of me, but I have always been a focused and disciplined man. In my youthful days, I took no interest in playing around. As the first son, I had to bear the responsibility of contributing to the upkeep of my younger siblings very early in my youth and so there was no time for frivolous activities.
What has kept your marriage going?
My marriage is strong and I have faith that it will remain strong till death do us part. Our marriage was founded on God’s words; He is our Rock. My wife and I are God-fearing and we share similar values about life and family. We have learnt that marriage requires patience, which happens to be my wife’s name. We both understand that marriage is about sacrifice, compromise, and forgiveness. These principles have helped us weather all storms and come out stronger each time.
We both also share family-oriented values and believe that families should strive to forge unbreakable bonds by emphasising collective similarities and de-emphasising areas of disagreement. I always illustrate this concept to my children by using the parable of the broom and a broomstick. A broomstick is easy to break, but a broom is unbreakable. The anger of a family member is not bone deep, and as such, forgiveness should be a readily available and utilised currency in transacting relationships within families.
Would you say you achieved all your goals during your youthful days?
As a man who believes in God’s divine plan for our individual lives, I leave no room for regret of the past. I believe that I accomplished all that God wanted me to accomplish in my youth because I have always trusted Him to order my life according to His will.
How do you feel at 81?
I feel fulfilled. God has been kind enough to bless me with an eventful life filled with His abundant grace and kindness. In the course of my life, I had a few near-death experiences which I miraculously survived. Two examples, as a child, a spear hurled playfully by a cousin hit me squarely in the face and could have pierced my skull but miraculously, the damage to my eye was only partial and I lived to tell the story. Also, as a young man, I had to abandon all my life investments, houses and property in Boki, Cross River, during the civil war after federal soldiers invaded the area. I trekked half the distance from Boki in the now Cross River State to Abakaliki, now Ebonyi State, to save my life.
But despite all these, I see my life today as a testimony of God’s grace. I have the most beautiful and amazing wife. I am alive and healthy. Life is awesome and I am thankful.
What is your life’s philosophy?
I put God first in all I do. I have discovered that if God is first in your life, one would have a balanced life. Looking at life through God’s perspective allows you to be focused and not swayed by various storms of life. In marriage, family, interpersonal relations and business dealings, a God-first approach to life allows you to be consistent, fair and confident of your actions at all times.
Would you love to live up to 100 or more?
As a Christian, I totally submit to the will of God. Every day to me is a gift and if it is God’s will that I live to be a 100, I will consider it a blessing. My responsibility is to live for Him and ensure that each day of my life is lived in a way that glorifies His name.
What is the secret of your good looks at 81?
You look your best when you are at peace with God and with man. If you think I look good, then it means that my innermost peace is reflected in my looks.
What is your favourite food?
I am a typical Igbo man; I like fufu and Onugbu (bitter leaf) soup.
What did you learn as an entrepreneur?
As a entrepreneur, the number one lesson I learnt is that you have to be bold and make forays into new territories. The first mover advantage is the weapon of successful entrepreneurs. You have to read the mood of the market and identify a need that has not been fulfilled. This allows the entrepreneur to dominate and profit while satisfying the need of the customers.
How can Nigeria’s economy be better?
The same thing that applies to individuals apply to nations. You reap what you sow. I learnt that as a businessman, you have to be prudent, and nurture your investment to grow. You live off of your profit and not your capital. You seek the most efficient way to run your business. You hire the best hands to run your business and not mediocre persons. Those are the rules for economic success. As a nation, Nigeria violates all these rules. Our affairs are often managed by mediocre individuals. Our rulers are corrupt and steal from the coffers of the state. Nepotism allows for mediocrity in the management of the economy.  Until Nigeria embraces the foundational principles of economic success, our economy will remain in shambles.
-Via Sunday Punch

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Latest Posts

How Generator Fumes Killed Two Friends In Edo State.
Shocking
52 views
Shocking
52 views

How Generator Fumes Killed Two Friends In Edo State.

MT - December 14, 2017

A fashion designer and her friend died after inhaling toxic fumes from an electricity generator. The bodies of Muobuikwu Uju Kate and Nkiru Anozie were discovered in…

Nigerian Celebrities Who Went Public With Their Relationships In 2017
Entertainment
47 views
Entertainment
47 views

Nigerian Celebrities Who Went Public With Their Relationships In 2017

PH - December 14, 2017

Celebrity couples often like to keep their romance under wraps, away from the scrutiny of the public.   2017 had its fair share of celebrities coming public with their…

Meet The 99-Year-Old Inmate On Death Row In Enugu Prison With His Son. Photos
Shocking
78 views
Shocking
78 views

Meet The 99-Year-Old Inmate On Death Row In Enugu Prison With His Son. Photos

MT - December 14, 2017

A 99-year-old man identified as Celestine Egboluche from Imo State is arguably the oldest man in a Nigerian prison. According to evangelist Christian Okezie Chukwuka who paid…

How Nigeria Almost Lost Its Place At The 2018 Word Cup After FIFA Sanction
Sports
46 views
Sports
46 views

How Nigeria Almost Lost Its Place At The 2018 Word Cup After FIFA Sanction

MT - December 14, 2017

The Super Eagles escaped being kicked out of the 2018 World Cup, after FIFA awarded three goals and three points to Algeria on Tuesday. Nigeria was sanctioned…

#NobodyUgly: This Throwback Photo Of Olamide Baddo Before The Fame And Money Will Leave You Inspired
Entertainment
51 views
Entertainment
51 views

#NobodyUgly: This Throwback Photo Of Olamide Baddo Before The Fame And Money Will Leave You Inspired

MT - December 14, 2017

Nigerian indigenous rapper, Olamide Adedeji had a very rough background in the ghetto area of Bariga, Lagos State where he struggled with his poor family. The humble…

How Policeman Who Assaulted Tinsel Actress, April Joju Muse Was Punished
Entertainment
67 views
Entertainment
67 views

How Policeman Who Assaulted Tinsel Actress, April Joju Muse Was Punished

MT - December 14, 2017

April Joju Muse took to her Facebook profile on Tuesday, December 12, to share the video she made while the police officer was trying to make his…

I Go Dye Bags UK Ambassadorial Award And Who He Dedicated It To Will Amaze You
Entertainment
47 views
Entertainment
47 views

I Go Dye Bags UK Ambassadorial Award And Who He Dedicated It To Will Amaze You

MT - December 14, 2017

  Comedian, I Go Dye, was recently honored with a Make A Difference Against Corruption Today award by the UKAID and youth alive foundation MADACT. Posting photos of the…

Nigeria’s 2017 Trending Videos On YouTube
Entertainment
44 views
Entertainment
44 views

Nigeria’s 2017 Trending Videos On YouTube

PH - December 14, 2017

YouTube, on Wednesday, released its annual Rewind lists, showcasing the moments that captured the attention of Nigerians and YouTube users around the globe this year. The top…

Chimamanda Adichie’s “Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions” Listed Among the Best Books of 2017
Best of Nigeria
64 views
Best of Nigeria
64 views

Chimamanda Adichie’s “Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions” Listed Among the Best Books of 2017

PH - December 14, 2017

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s “Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions” has been listed among the Best Books of 2017 by both NPR Books and Audible.…

Ubi Franklin Throws Welcome Party For Daughter As She Arrives Nigeria
Entertainment
74 views
Entertainment
74 views

Ubi Franklin Throws Welcome Party For Daughter As She Arrives Nigeria

MT - December 14, 2017

Back in November 2017, Music executive turned entrepreneur Ubi Franklin revealed in an Instagram post that he’s a father-of-two and not one as people assume. He and his ex-wife, Lilian Esoro share…

Adesua Etomi, Late Moji Olaiya, Others Top List Of Nigeria’s Google Searches For 2017
Entertainment
42 views
Entertainment
42 views

Adesua Etomi, Late Moji Olaiya, Others Top List Of Nigeria’s Google Searches For 2017

MT - December 14, 2017

So much has happened in 2017 that it’s almost impossible to believe they all happened in one year. Today, Google announced the results of its 2017 Year…

Lepacious Bose Recounts How She Hated Herself Due To Her Weight, Yet Still Made People Laugh
Entertainment
57 views
Entertainment
57 views

Lepacious Bose Recounts How She Hated Herself Due To Her Weight, Yet Still Made People Laugh

MT - December 14, 2017

Comedian Lepacious Bose is celebrating 5 years of her weight loss journey with this inspiring post. According to her, the devil stole 25 years of her life…

Daddy Freeze Challenges Davido To Use A Tithe Of His Income To Help Someone And Here’s His Reply
Entertainment
94 views
Entertainment
94 views

Daddy Freeze Challenges Davido To Use A Tithe Of His Income To Help Someone And Here’s His Reply

MT - December 14, 2017

Top Nigerian singer, Davido, has accepted the challenge to use ten percent of his income to bring someone out of poverty. Recall that controversial Nigerian OAP Daddy…

How To Reduce The Risk Of Having Cancer – Oncologist Gives Important Tips In Ibadan  
Food and Health
71 views
Food and Health
71 views

How To Reduce The Risk Of Having Cancer – Oncologist Gives Important Tips In Ibadan  

MT - December 14, 2017

Dr Adebayo Oladeji, a Consultant with the University College Hospital, Ibadan, on Wednesday said youths could reduce their cancer risk by 90 per cent  through  healthy living,…

REVEALED: How EFCC Boss Ibrahim Magu Escaped Assassination
Politics
70 views
Politics
70 views

REVEALED: How EFCC Boss Ibrahim Magu Escaped Assassination

PH - December 14, 2017

The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Ibrahim Magu on Tuesday night escaped death by the whiskers as some gunmen stormed his…

Channels Television Emerges TV Station Of The Year For 12th Time
Best of Nigeria
59 views
Best of Nigeria
59 views

Channels Television Emerges TV Station Of The Year For 12th Time

PH - December 14, 2017

Channels Television has won the Nigerian Media Merit Award for Best Television Station Of The Year for a record 12th time. The award-winning station was presented with the coveted…

Davido In A Relationship With A New “Girlfriend”? (See Photos)
Entertainment
103 views
Entertainment
103 views

Davido In A Relationship With A New “Girlfriend”? (See Photos)

MT - December 13, 2017

Since the news of the birth of her 2nd child, whose mother is an American, the music star, Davido, has been reassured to keep his relationships hidden. Earlier…

5 Nigerian Politicians PDP Should Consider As ‘Presidential Candidate’ To Defeat Buhari In 2019
Politics
116 views
Politics
116 views

5 Nigerian Politicians PDP Should Consider As ‘Presidential Candidate’ To Defeat Buhari In 2019

MT - December 13, 2017

Nigeria’s major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has hinted that it has begun the search for a ‘sellable candidate’ who can match President Muhammadu Buhari in…

Loading...