Francis Akanu Ibiam –
A Christ-like Disciple and
Our Modern Classical Saint.
The German Philosopher , Karl Marx, regarded all those who truly embodied the Spirit of Christ as Classical Saints. For him, the true modern saints are to be found only among the true followers of Christ. But Christ has truly said not all those who shout and call upon God. Father! Father! will enter the kingdom of God.
Many regard Karl Marx as an atheist because of what is called his materialist theory. But that is for those who read him upside down, or dwelt on those intellectually fanciful interpretations of his doctrine.
The truth is that Karl Marx had such profound respect for Christ, the founder of true modern Christian faith. Hear what he said of Christ.
“The Classical Saint mortified his body for the salvation of the soul of the masses.
But the modern saint mortifies the body of the masses for the salvation of his own soul,
For Marx, sainthood is what typifies Christ and his true followers, particularly, the classical followers of Christ beginning from the Twelve (12) Disciples. These were the people Marx saw as those who mortified their bodies, just as Christ did, ready for all kinds of tribulations in the hands of civil authorities as they crusade for the salvation of the body and soul of the masses, even against the civil authorities.
There are examples in modern times even in our clime of such modern classical saints. For example, Dr Francis Akanu Ibiam of blessed memory was indeed a true representative of the Classical Saint, a true Christ-like minister and disciple of Christ.
During the war (I mean the Biafra war), Dr Akanu Ibiam as leader of the World Council of Churches, fearlessly mobilized the Church to provide humanitarian services to his people. In protest over the role of the Government of Great Britain, he returned the British Empire Title, OBE to the Government of Harold Wilson for the complicity of that Government in the Biafra genocide.
Dr Akanu Ibiam immediately after the war went to General Yakubu Gowon and threatened to call the Biafrans back to arms if his Government continued to treat them as conquered people.
When the soldiers and security personnel of General Ibrahim Babangida arrested students of the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus for violating the Decree which banned student demonstrations and was about sending them for trial by a Military Tribunal set up for that purpose, we approached Dr Akanu Ibiam. He went straight to Dodan Barracks and asked General Babangida whether it was his intension to test his Decree with Igbo students. Babangida immediately ordered the release of those students despite the fact that they violated his so-called Military Decree.
It was Dr Akanu Ibiam who modernized the traditional chieftaincy institution in Alaigbo, re-christened it Ezeship institution, whereby Igbo traditional rulers took the title of Eze instead of Chief, Akanu Ibiam, himself became the Ezeogo of Uwana.
Dr Akanu Ibiam was instrumental to the founding of Igbo State Union as well as OhaNaeze Ndigbo. He was a true Igbo leader an active Christian Minister and a great advocate of the Igbo liberation struggle.
His daughter. Princess Alu Ibiam, the current Regrnt of Uwana was one of the founding mothers along with Hon Mrs Maria Okwo of the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) and is a member of the ADF Board of Trustees.
Dr Akanu Ibiam, Ezeogo of Uwana chaired the launching of my book, Igbo Philosophy at Owerri, while HRH Eze Onuegwunwoke was the Chief launcher of the book.
Today, one of the great hallmarks of the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) is the spiritual guidance of several members of the clergy, most of whom neatly fit into the mold of Christ-like disciples, the Modern Classical Saints.
Christ himself was not only a spiritual liberator, he was also a selfless civil liberator. It is in this sense that he hailed as our Supreme Classical Saint. Indeed, you cannot be called a true Christ-like disciple or a minister of God unless your life epitomizes the spirit of a liberator of the oppressed, I mean those oppressed by both evil spirits and evil humans.
PROF T. UZODINMA NWALA
July 21, 2020