Professor Uzodinma Nwala
Prof. Nwala

Abia Onyike

His Birthday has hitherto been celebrated on March 16th each year! But March 16, 1942 was not the actual day he was born.

There was no Birth Register in his town Itu Ezinihitte Mbaise in Imo State during the period he was born. Neither his mother nor his father went to the white man’s school and no Birth Register was available in his village at the time.

It was his school teacher who in1951 miscalculated the actual date of his birth and mistakenly put it on March 16, 1942. But March 16 1942 was not the Fifth day of the week – FRIDAY – the actual day he was born!

THE ACTUAL DAY WAS MARCH 20, 1942. The period of his birth is aligned with the period when the most famous merchant in the area, popularly called ISRAEL died.

It has been a burden since this truth was discovered. Professor Nwala cherishes his popular name as a village boy. He is generally called FRIDAY. The younger ones call him DE FRIDAY, When they are angry with him they address him as WA FRIDAY.

He also relishes the name his father – EHILEGBU NWALA UFOMADU, gave him – UZODINMA. When the younger ones don’t address him as DE FRIDAY they call him DE WUZO.

You may want to know how come TIMOTHY as part of his official name.
He gave himself that name at the time he was being baptized in the Apostolic Church, a name he chose became it was the name of their popular teacher – TIMOTHY. I. IGWE.

Uzodinma Nwala was born in the bush on Friday March 20, 1942. This was during the intense period of the Second World War with its acute salt scarcity. Neither his mother nor his father went to the white man’s school and as said earlier no Birth Register was available in his village at the time. All his people remember that he was born on a FRIDAY.

His father was a very turbulent man, highly respected and feared throughout the entire Town of Itu and its environs. His mother was a very hardworking and intelligent trader, a stormy petrel among the women leaders of the town. His father died while he was just a small kid. He remembers the struggle between him and his senior brother as to who should be in front of the other in the line-up during the funeral tribute to his late father.

He and his late senior brother Ikpeoha have marks on their forehead which they inflicted on each other at different periods of their life

His mother carried him in her womb for twelve months, breast-fed him for three years, before weaning him. He nurtured three babies as a baby-sitter before fate turned him from the path of a trader, which his beloved mother had ear-marked for him to start formal schooling. And this was at the point his senior brother had revolted against the idea of himself going to school, dropped his school uniform and ran to his grandmother, protesting and insisting that it was his junior brother and not himself who should go to the white man’s school.

This was how his mother’s dream for his future bowed to his brother’s prophecy.

Within the six years of his primary schooling, he served five teachers as their house boy one of the most memorable cases was the one in which the elders of the Apostolic Church decided that his mother should surrender him as a house-boy to the Church Agent (Pastor) who had lost his wife, leaving behind three children. Everybody agreed that no-one else but Friday (as he was popularly called at the time), was good enough to be entrusted with the task of serving as a house-boy to the bereaved pastor and looking after his small children while at the same time going to school.

This is one of the momentous aspects of Uzodinma Nwala’s Odyssey which he relishes.

As we celebrate this day- MARCH 20, 2021 – we bow our head in awe of the mystery of the Odyssey which is called LIFE!

Hon Abia Onyike is the Chairman, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) Publicity Bureau.
Prof. Nwala is ADF President.