Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor Recounts the Legacy of his Cousin and Special Friend, Frank Ukoli, in a Poem


Friend and Cousin


Editor’s Note

By Peter Ekeh

The late Frank Ukoli was a friend to many. But none was closer to him than Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor. Cousins and special friends, their company was always illuminating, affecting their mutual friends positively. Ajovi was not at Frank’s bed side at Warri, in West Africa, as he took his last breath at Shell Hospital on December 21, 2004. But Ajovi was an ocean away in Michigan in the United States of America, on telephone, monitoring and worrying about his friend’s health. Ajovi knew of Frank’s death before his relatives in Warri did.

It will not be enough to publish the poem that Ajovi has composed in his friend’s memory without narrating his agony since his death. His note forwarding the poem says it well. There is a human touch in the poem that transcends the competence of medical professionalism. As a distinguished medical practitioner, whose experience spans the Atlantic and two different worlds of Nigerian and American medical practices, Ajovi has saved many lives. He has also seen many people in their dying moments. But nothing prepares one for the taking away of a rich life with which one has become wedded in human love.

Here is Ajovi’s note, before his poem:

Dear Peter:

I have been very down for the last three weeks. My pain is so excruciating that I do not know why. If it is because Frank is gone, then I must be feeling guilty that I did not do enough to sustain him when he was alive. Only this morning did it dawn on me that it is because I missed the one opportunity to have interacted with him in the last days of his life (at the UHS meeting in Effurun). His last email to me before the UHS meeting stated, in part, that he was looking forward to seeing me and to laughing loud again during my visit. He talked about hearing my views on his plans for the next few years (turned out to be days).

Now that I know why I have been so down, I have the courage of sending my humble tribute to the memory of Frank. You may share it with our members, if you think it is appropriate.

Thank you very much, Peter.


[My Humble Tribute to the Rich Memory of Professor Frank M. A. Ukoli, FAS]

By Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor


They announced that he is dead
Just because he is not there
They’ve used many strange words
Passed, demise, called, left, gone
In those words, so much finality abound
Yet, I see him everyday, he moves around

This occurrence, “death” describes not
To say it well, must find another word
Enabling us feel his continued presence
So present, so real, so profound in essence
Giant-sized, watchful, with diligence
Monitoring, as in real life, a rich legacy 

His legacy, enabled our liberated minds
Empowering us all to be different kinds
To be different, we courageously traversed
Paths, which for the special were reserved
Special because we saw no other persons
Except those, alike, inspired by his lessons 

Wanted to be known only as a Scientist
So he gave impetus to spirited Scientists
Wanted to be remembered as a Scholar
He created beauty around scholarship
Showed example, the value of excellence
Drove us to relentless pursuit of excellence 

He taught us the purity of conscience
He made honesty an art and a science
He administered life, not just education
So we can dance, complete dance of affection
For Truth, Justice, Equity and Fairness
A dance for Service, with class and finesse 

Be vigilant, you’ll see him everywhere
In those he inspired and who now dare
To pursue knowledge and reach out for truth
In a World, strikingly lacking of both
This should be our greatest tribute to him
Steadfastness, dedication to a life of honor and merit 

                                                                                   (December 21, 2004)


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