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Obituary for Emmanuel Amu Anaeme

Emmanuel Amu  Anaeme
"A Giant Iroko Tree Has Fallen!!!''

Chief Emmanuel Amu Anaeme, Esq.
(Ifukaazu 1 of Item)

Chief Emmanuel Amu Anaeme, of Amaeke Item, Abia State, Nigeria, was born of very humble beginnings to Anaeme Otti and Ude Ncham on December 31, 1930. His dad died when he was a little boy, and his mom raised him with the help of various relatives from whose houses he was shuttled back and forth. Despite the difficulties of his early childhood (which included learning how to speak English by listening to the radio), he was determined to succeed. That determination, coupled with his high intelligence saw him receive a full federal government academic scholarship. It enabled him to obtain a sound education; first getting a bachelor’s degree in Economics, and culminating in a law degree, both from the University of London in England. As one of the first in his immediate and extended family to go to college, he was welcomed home to Nigeria from England with the 21-gun salute the locals used to acknowledge ‘dignitaries returning to their people.’

Emmanuel started his career as the Nigerian Eastern Region Labour Officer at the Federal Ministry of Labour in Lagos. Later on he moved to the private sector (Nigeria Employers Consultative Association) and worked for many years representing employers in their negotiations with unions on socio-economic and labour policy issues. As a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) - a branch of the United Nations, he participated in ILO meetings and conferences, and taught various training sessions all over Nigeria, Africa and Europe. He served on many company boards with honour and integrity, only wanting the best for their workforce. Following many years of travelling, Emmanuel retired to his private law practice in Lagos.

It was while working in Lagos that Emmanuel met and wedded then Miss Mabel Nkem Odiachi (of blessed memory) in March 1958. Mabel passed away after a brief illness six months after their 50th wedding anniversary. Together they raised five children in Nigeria and in England, who are all accomplished in their different endeavors today. He loved his grandchildren, and had the cutest pet names for them – including cherub, angel, bem bem bem, UC, joo joo and davina.

Emmanuel had a knack for always wanting to help those in need. At the start of the civil war between the southern and northern parts of Nigeria in 1966, he took in strangers who were fleeing the conflict in northern Nigeria, and helped them to resettle into new homes. He also picked up people with one of his daughters from the railway stations, and drove them to several locations to resettle. At the height of the Nigeria-Biafra war between 1967 and 1970, he volunteered with the Red Cross, helping to reunite many refugees with their families.

Not limiting his help to strangers, many relatives or in-laws who were down on their luck and needed a place to stay, lived with the family over the years, some for extended periods.

Emmanuel believed without equivocation in the value of a good education, and selflessly paid the grade school and college tuition of many cousins, nephews, nieces, or other distant relatives over the years.
A voracious reader, he was still buying and reading 1,000-page law books as recently as five years ago. Family, friends, and acquaintances with fondness and amazement note that Emmanuel, up to his death was somewhat of a "human encyclopedia" - who could tell you without a second thought, where Kathmandu rests on the world map, and what language the natives of Kathmandu spoke.
When he became an American citizen in 2014, he noted with amusement that during his citizenship interview, the interviewer stopped asking him questions after question number six of 10, because he had answered all the prior questions correctly (with lengthy explanations of the answers thrown in).

Emmanuel’s favorite quote was: ‘’blessed is the man, whom having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of that fact."

Some words that had been used to describe Emmanuel through the years were:

• "Distinguished Item son"
• "Polished gentleman"
• "Brilliant lawyer"
• "Helpful neighbor"
• "Kind grandfather"
• "Dependable uncle and granduncle"
• "Avid golfer"
• "Keen reader"
• "Modest man"
• “A man of integrity”

A sharp dresser in his heyday, his wife would always tease him with the gentle admonition of “nwoke na ete powder” (meaning: the man who splashes himself with powder) – because he felt that he had to smell just right to leave the house. As he believed in “dressing appropriately when you left the house” – he would wear formal shoes and a jacket just to go and grab a bite at a nearby cafe for instance.

For all his western ways, he was also a traditionalist. Chief Anaeme or Dede or De Amu (as he was called by those in his hometown) was a staunch supporter of his Item community; leading, mentoring and supporting all its programs with his generosity over the years. He was the first to have the title “Ifukaazu” (meaning: ‘the future is better than the present’) of Item. He was truly an inspirational role model to many young men and women in Item.

Some traditional beliefs of his were that the young should never talk back to their elders or give/take items from them with their left hand. The latter was seen as extreme rudeness. He dispensed advice or suggestions with an accompanying idiom or proverb in his local Ibo (Nigerian) language.

It would be remiss not to mention Emmanuel’s love for all things soccer, especially his beloved Manchester United. He had season tickets to watch United in the 1960s when he lived in England with his young family. Their entire season schedule was meticulously printed out, important matches highlighted, and results of their rivals games keenly followed and scrutinized. All because of him, three generations of the Anaeme clan are avid Manchester United followers. He was looking forward so much to the 2018 World Cup starting in June.
Emmanuel travelled back and forth to the U.S. over the last 25 years (first with his late wife and later on his own), and had lived permanently in Arizona since November 2015. During all those visits, he forged many friendships with the friends, co-workers, and in-laws of his children.

After attending court proceedings in Lagos one day in 2015, Emmanuel complained to one of his daughters that the judge was whispering and he seemed to be the only lawyer in court who could not hear the judge properly. It was clear to his children that it was time to ‘force’ him to slow down. He retired fully from legal practice in July 2015, at the ripe age of 85! Yet, because of his work ethic he did not feel he should be retired, and told his eldest daughter just two weeks ago that she should find him a job in Arizona!
Emmanuel was a great husband, father, son, brother, friend, colleague, mentor, and attorney.

Emmanuel was predeceased in death by his parents Otti and Ude, wife Mabel, brother Eme, and sisters Ojiugo and Hannah.

He is survived by his children Ada, Ijeoma (Dave), Chichi (Victor), Obinna (Liza), and Chinedu (Laura); by his beloved grandchildren Chima, Uche, David, Angie, Jude, Alonzo, Adaeze, and Obehi; and by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

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