Dickson Okafor Chief Johny Ucheaga is a lawyer and he is the Secretary, Nigerian Police Equipment Foundation. As a political associate of former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme who passed on recently, the Uturu, Abia State born politician in this interview gives an insight into how Ekwueme became a running mate to former President, Alhaji…
First Holiday Memory
My trip to the UK in 1985 as a Commonwealth journalist on Harry Brighton Fellowship. Before the trip, my picture of UK was based on what I read. So, I had a great expectation about the country. The countryside was beautiful. Everything looked peaceful, heavenly. It was a very beautiful experience. It was a memorable visit, made more memorable by cold. I had never experienced such magnitude of cold. Though not wintertime, I slept with my suit, tie and everything, yet I was still shivering.
Ideal travelling companion
My late friend and writing companion, Dimgba Igwe. He was my ‘twin brother,’ my friend, my everything. We enjoyed travelling together, exploring the world, buying books. Books really excited us. Each time we travelled, we visited bookshops and spent hours just hunting for latest books.
Always London first, very cosmopolitan, very beautiful city, with everything you want. London is a real-life theatre of everything. You can never get bored. My favourite street is the Oxford Street. We ensured our hotel is very close to Oxford. We know the street in and out because of our endlessly parading up and down. Paris is another of my favourite city. A beautiful city. The Eiffel Tower is unforgettable if you climbed it and viewed Paris from its height. I also love the Champs-Elysees, one of the biggest streets in the world. I had a terrible nightmare there. I was busy taking photographs when I slipped, and trying to save the camera, dislocated my shoulder.
Once, Dimgba and I planned to travel to Spain, to visit Madrid and Barcelona. We went to Spanish Embassy with our passports. What I took along was an expired passport. The embassy’s appointment was weekly and we had just four days to go. Dimgba had to go alone.
One, the Eiffel Tower. Two, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. At the Louvre, people queued to watch this beautiful and legendary painting. You can’t even take the photograph. Three, the Pyramid of Giza in Egypt––I climbed and went into those pyramids. God is great. And man is great too. Those pyramids are a marvel, indescribable, so magnificent, so magical, so ancient, and so poetic riding camels with our Egyptian guide.
Four, the Taj Mahal. We travelled from New Delhi to Agra by road, soaking in the Indian sceneries. We stopped at a place to watch a snake charmer, all those things we used to see in Indian movies. We finally got to the Taj Mahal, and it was “Oh, wao!” Beautiful, beyond description.
Best meal abroad
Each time I am in the UK, I prefer the Indian cuisine. Indian foods are spicy, taste like African foods, though with its own kind of flavour. I also go for Chinese cuisine.
While in Jordan, we went to the Jordan River, to the place where Jesus was baptised by St. John. Dimgba was excited. I was lukewarm. I was expecting a very big River Jordan. What we saw was more like a small, muddy Ogunpa River. Some Nigerians who wanted to be baptised were looking for a pastor. Dimgba, being a pastor, gladly obliged. He asked if I would also want to be baptised. I refused. If I had allowed him to baptise me, I would also be privileged to claim that “I have also been immersed in River Jordan.” It is my biggest travel regret..
Most memorable personality
Nelson Mandela. I met him with the publisher of The Sun, Dr. Orji Kalu. He was really great. In his greatness, you could see humility. All you asked is one question and he would answer the other questions on your mind. Anything you asked of him, he would do. You want to take photograph with him? He’d assent. That piece of memory lives in the museum of my heart.
The closest I have been to China is Taiwan. I yearn to visit China. I also dream of going to Russia, especially St. Petersburg. I have also not been to Australia.
Lessons from travelling
When you travel, you appreciate God more. The world is such a very beautiful place. Travelling around and seeing the work of God and the work of man too, is enriching.
Every travelling is an education. Each time we travel, we looked for ideas; ideas that would help us to bring about game-changing situations. We go out, see something, and come back home, replicate it. Our book 50 World Editors is a product of travelling. Everywhere we travelled, we would go to the leading newspapers in the city and interview their editors.
One idea you pick from abroad can bring in money. Just one idea can change your situation.
Mike Awoyinfa co-authored 50 World Editors with his friend, Dimgba Igwe