Friend and Cousin


Editor's Note

By Peter Ekeh
The late Frank Ukoli was a friend to many. But none was closer to him than Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor. Cousins and special friends, their company was always illuminating, affecting their mutual friends positively. Ajovi was not at Frank's bed side at Warri, in West Africa, as he took his last breath at Shell Hospital on December 21, 2004. But Ajovi was an ocean away in Michigan in the United States of America, on telephone, monitoring and worrying about his friend's health. Ajovi knew of Frank's death before his relatives in Warri did.

It will not be enough to publish the poem that Ajovi has composed in his friend's memory without narrating his agony since his death. His note forwarding the poem says it well. There is a human touch in the poem that transcends the competence of medical professionalism. As a distinguished medical practitioner, whose experience spans the Atlantic and two different worlds of Nigerian and American medical practices, Ajovi has saved many lives. He has also seen many people in their dying moments. But nothing prepares one for the taking away of a rich life with which one has become wedded in human love.

Here is Ajovi's note, before his poem:

Dear Peter:

I have been very down for the last three weeks. My pain is so excruciating that I do not know why. If it is because Frank is gone, then I must be feeling guilty that I did not do enough to sustain him when he was alive. Only this morning did it dawn on me that it is because I missed the one opportunity to have interacted with him in the last days of his life (at the UHS meeting in Effurun). His last email to me before the UHS meeting stated, in part, that he was looking forward to seeing me and to laughing loud again during my visit. He talked about hearing my views on his plans for the next few years (turned out to be days).

Now that I know why I have been so down, I have the courage of sending my humble tribute to the memory of Frank. You may share it with our members, if you think it is appropriate.

Thank you very much, Peter.

[My Humble Tribute to the Rich Memory of Professor Frank M. A. Ukoli, FAS]

By Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor


They announced that he is dead

Just because he is not there

They’ve used many strange words

Passed, demise, called, left, gone

In those words, so much finality abound

Yet, I see him everyday, he moves around

This occurrence, “death” describes not
To say it well, must find another word

Enabling us feel his continued presence

So present, so real, so profound in essence

Giant-sized, watchful, with diligence

Monitoring, as in real life, a rich legacy

His legacy, enabled our liberated minds

Empowering us all to be different kinds

To be different, we courageously traversed

Paths, which for the special were reserved

Special because we saw no other persons

Except those, alike, inspired by his lessons

Wanted to be known only as a Scientist

So he gave impetus to spirited Scientists

Wanted to be remembered as a Scholar
He created beauty around scholarship

Showed example, the value of excellence

Drove us to relentless pursuit of excellence

He taught us the purity of conscience

He made honesty an art and a science

He administered life, not just education

So we can dance, complete dance of affection

For Truth, Justice, Equity and Fairness

A dance for Service, with class and finesse

Be vigilant, you’ll see him everywhere

In those he inspired and who now dare

To pursue knowledge and reach out for truth

In a World, strikingly lacking of both

This should be our greatest tribute to him
Steadfastness, dedication to a life of honor and merit

                                                                                   (December 21, 2004)