Uhuru-Spirit News

CHIEF FRANK IFEANYICHUKWU: A PROMINENT NIGERIAN COMMUNITY LEADER IN SA DIES AT 42

October 26, 2015 | Uhuruspirit

HRH Chief Frank Maduabuchi Ifeanyichukwu (Onyendu Ndigbo South Africa)





The Nigerian community and friends in South Africa are in shock following the untimely demise of HRH Chief Frank Maduabuchi Ifeanyichukwu, who, until his death, held the position of Onyendu Ndigbo South Africa.

Uhuruspirit gathered that Chief Ifeanyichukwu was recuperating after a long illness, but gave up the ghost on Thursday while receiving treatment at a Johannesburg hospital after suffering a relapse.

Born on 3rd October 1973 in Ukpor, Nnewi South Local Government of Anambra State, Chief Ifeanyichukwu migrated to South Africa in the late 1990s and later became a naturalized South African citizen.

He was a man of versatile personality and one of the first Nigerians in South Africa to speak Zulu fluently. As a writer of note, he was an author of many books on politics, religion, history, and traditional medicine. Chief Ifeanyichukwu was a publisher and the chief editor of the Frank Times Magazine which at its prime enjoyed popular readership around Johannesburg. A sports enthusiast, he was a boxing champion and following his early retirement from boxing, Chief Ifeanyichukwu would go on to become a successful businessman. Until his death, he was the owner of a security company in Johannesburg.

Indeed, those who knew Chief Ifeanyichukwu would remember him for his warm, amiable and engaging nature. He was a man, who on daily basis, spent most of his time in the midst of people. He was a reputable community activist, a dogged fighter for justice and a reliable champion of the oppressed, broken hearted and less privilege. Chief Ifeanyichukwu was very close to many top South African revolutionary leaders, including Ma Winnie Mandela.

In 2007, he briefly dabbled into the murky waters of Nigerian politics when he declared interest to succeed then President Olusegun Obasanjo at the end of his tenure. But he would later step down to support the candidacy of then Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who went on to lose to late President Umaru Yar'Adua. In 2009, Chief Ifeanyichukwu retired from partisan politics in Nigeria, following his installation as Onyendu Ndigbo South Africa (Leader of Igbo people in South Africa), though he had continued to remain an active supporter of the ruling ANC in South Africa.

His installation as Onyendu Ndigbo South Africa came at a tumultuous period for the Igbo community in South Africa. At the time, the South African chapter of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, was torn apart by factionalism and disunity. While one faction led by Chief Damian Obasi was loyal to Ezigbo South Africa, HRM Eze Akuenwebe Emechebe, the other led by Chief Baldwin Obasi had supported Chief Ifeanyichukwu’s installation as Onyendu Ndigbo South Africa. Indeed, his magnetic personality and inspiring leadership style would attest to the fact that he had enjoyed a strong backing from the then leadership of Ohaneze worldwide. His inauguration as Onyendu Ndigbo in Johannesburg in late 2008 was witnessed by many top Igbo leaders from Nigeria, including Dr. Dozie Ikedife (then President General of Ohaneze worldwide), Chief Ani Odunze (then Administrative Secretary of Ohaneze), Chief Onyeso Nwachukwu, His Royal Highness Eze Ilomuanya (then chairman of Igbo Council of Ndi-Eze), His Royal Highness Igwe Kenneth Orizu of Nnewi, His Royal Highness Eze CY Nwonyecha, Igwe Omerenyi of Mmaku, among others.

HRH Chief Frank Maduabuchi Ifeanyichukwu (Onyendu Ndigbo South Africa) with Chief Smart Okeugiri (Former Ohaneze Ndigbo SA President) and Chief Austine Ijezie during the New Yam Festival by Umunri Welfare Association SA in Cape Town in 2010


With his installation as Onyendu Ndigbo, Chief Ifeanyichukwu went on to help mend the battered image of the Nigerian community in South Africa. He was vocal and made practical efforts to discourage criminality within the Nigerian community in South Africa, though he always condemned the stereotyping of every Nigerian as a criminal.

“One of the best qualities of a good leader is his ability to influence others positively. To do this, I have to identify all the problem areas which tend to hold our people back, and try my possible best to address them; this would involve settling disputes among our people without partiality. Also, part of my responsibility is to look after the welfare of our people in South Africa by ensuring that they enjoy a good positive relationship with the people of our host country. It has been pointed out on many occasions that we have an image problem, so, I will be looking closely at that with the aim of addressing it. However, it is wrong for a whole people to be condemned by labeling them criminals in a situation where people ought to be innocent until proven guilty,” he said in a 2009 interview with Uhuruspirit editor, Comrade Hilary Ojukwu.

Chief Ifeanyichukwu was a kind-hearted man and a quintessential philanthropist who never turned away any needy person empty-handed. As a peace activist, he openly condemned and spoke out against factionalism in Ohaneze Ndigbo South Africa. It was thus not surprising that he ended up playing a leading role in uniting the two factions. A peace deal was reached by the two factions in 2011, which included the accordance of recognition to both the Ezigbo and Onyendu as legitimate leaders of the Igbo community in South Africa.

As Onyendu Ndigbo in South Africa, he took an active part in the Igbo World Assembly and many other international platforms that seek to advance the interests of his people in Nigeria.

Chief Ifeanyichukwu is survived by his wife and five children. Uhuruspirit has been informed that Ohaneze South Africa will soon announce plans for a befitting memorial programme in South Africa before his body will be flown to his home town in Nigeria for interment.

HRH Chief Frank Maduabuchi Ifeanyichukwu (Onyendu Ndigbo South Africa) with his wife and assistants in 2009


HRH Chief Frank Maduabuchi Ifeanyichukwu (Onyendu Ndigbo South Africa) as the chief editor of the Frank Times Magazine


- UHURUSPIRIT.org



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