Interview by Ononye VC.
Chief (Sir) Josephat Obiukwu Nwakibie (JON) Okpalafuluaku, Ikenga Awka-Etiti popularly known as Jasper Okpalafuluaku locally and internationally, is an uncommon character and personality. He is literally a bag of humour and wisdom.
He loves people staying around him always and he doesn’t like dull moments.He is generous and appreciated by those who come across him.
Jasper is endowed with abundant native philosophy and common sense with which he reads and navigates situations.He has answers to issues whether they border on politics,religion,business,environment, family name it.
Born on 29th May 1952 at a remote maternity in his home town Awka Etiti in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State,Nigeria,the Ikenga Awka Etiti believes God has been so faithful with him just as he has tried hard to please God in his own little way.
On Sunday 30th May,2021,we met during the Pastoral visit and Feast of the Holy Trinity at the Basilica Square where His Grace,the Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha was celebrating mass.
He (Jasper)was sitting beside me.There was a big cow rope lying on the floor in-between us.I glanced at it and concentrated on the mass just as Jasper did.
However,after the Archbishop’s homily which centered on the the uniqueness of God in relation to the Holy Trinity and the current wave of idol worshipping by some of the faithful,Jasper struck a joke at me and asked, “Victor, when did you become a herdsman going about with cow rope,are you sure you’re not here for something sinister” ?.l laughed it off but on second thought, I assumed it was intended for thanksgiving but I could not decipher the owner.Minutes after,Jasper humorously claimed ownership of the rope and revealed to me that it was not only his birthday but that he was going for a thanksgiving to appreciate God for all His favours on him and his entire family.
He invited me to his GRA home where he received friends and well wishers in the evening.
His in-laws, grandchildren,some village folks and business partners were present.
I took special notice of Chief Barth Eli,the closest and faithful business partner to Chief Jasper.The same with the great gentleman of our time Sir Ikem Osanakpo and his amiable wife Nonye.
I also saw the Grand Knight,KSM Onitsha SubCouncil Sir Greg Mokwe and his pretty wife Nkiru as well as Sir Emma Enendu and his pretty wife.
Basilica Altar Boy jnr,Sir Vitalis Ewelike was on duty with his team from the Basilica.
I witnessed the beautiful presence of Chief Hon Mrs V V I Okoye,one time Anambra State Commissioner for Education and mother founder of Catholic Women Organisation (CWO)world wide.There were many others too numerous to mention.
Some elderly folks who I presumed were childhood friends or business partners of Sir Jasper formed a round table where they were seated with Jasper while he was throwing strings of jokes and humour on virtually any one who ventured into the compound.
Jasper’s amiable wife who holds the key to his husband’s heart firmly, Lady Lovely Uchenna Okpalafuluaku was busy inside the kitchen with some of her aides doing what she knew how to do best.She spotted a well fitted stretch jeans and tinted hair style.She has remained ageless,fit and attractive many years above her mates in the grandmother bracket.
Before the end of the gathering, many of the guests had grown bloated tummies out of the endless supply from the kitchen courtesy of Lady Okpalafuluaku.
There was no gainsaying the fact that there was surplus to drink,eat and spare.
In a frank discussion, Jasper while clutching a bottle of chilled Heineken beer, told me he had every reason to thank God. Hear him, “some of my mates are no more,some are incapacitated, some are still in search of children but God has given me all these.Why won’t I be grateful to Him.Look at that car over there,it was one of my son’s who bought it for me as a gift for the past Fathering Sunday. I shed tears of joy when he showed it to me”.
Chief Okpalafuluaku further told me that he has 6 healthy children and grandchildren and that the greatest thing which he asked God to do for him was the ability and wisdom to train his children which God has done for him.
I posed a question demanding from Jasper what life has thought him.He said…” Life has thought me to continue to do good and even if you are not appreciated, continue to do so because it is only God that can reward good deeds.Don’t wait for a human being to reward you otherwise you will backslide.It is better to do good always. If you don’t have grace,pray,ask God to give you grace to do so.There are lots of benefits in it”.
While growing up, Jasper said he learnt perseverance,humility,patience and obedience from his master when he was an apprentice. According to Jasper,this virtue of perseverance and obedience lack in youths of today.They don’t want to bend down to learn but only to commit fraud and make quick money,cheat and steal from other people who have struggled to make it.
“If our young people of today stoop down to learn,they will transfer their knowledge to others and business will grow and the society would be better for us all.
Today,it does appear we are the last generation that has transferred knowledge to our youths because youths of nowadays are not prepared to serve anybody or take up the challenge of learning skills.In parts of Anambra particularly, other young men from nearby States are stealing the show from us while our own youths are smoking and drinking and going into cultism”.
He spoke on his religious life and said,” I believe in the Golden Rule which says” Do unto others what you would want them do unto you”.
Jasper Okpalafuluaku is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria.He a patron of Man of Order and Discipline, Catholic Choirs Association and patron of many other societies in the church.
He holds the title of Ikenga Awka Etiti his home town and has in stock numerous other titles from various communities.
This is wishing Chief Sir Jasper Okpalafuluaku many happy returns on his birthday.