The passing on to eternal glory of an outstanding gentleman, a legendary achiever, a voracious academic and more important for us an unbelievable tennis lover, came at the worst possible time for tennis in Nigeria.
Coming about a month to the grand finale of the 2017 NCC Tennis League where he was supposed to be a special guest of honour for the third time and when plans were afoot to start a Team Ekwueme to be domiciled at the Enugu sports Club where he is a patron, his demise really hurt.
However, his outstanding achievements packed in 85 years of a positively restless and exemplary life can only motivate and inspire those who love him.
How can one man earn academic degrees in architecture and urban development, in sociology, in history, in philosophy and law and then go through law school for the heck of it and then cap all of these with a Phd in Architecture?
How can anyone go through the cesspit of Nigerian politics, get to be vice president (the second highest office in the land) and come out without a stain? For example, Sir Alex Ekwueme GCON wound up his business empire with more than 16 offices across Nigeria in preparation for assuming office as the first Executive Vice President of Nigeria.
Unfortunately tennis in Nigeria is one of the big losers because his love for the sport was unbelievable. He had a tennis court in his country home and was still playing the game until his demise.
Sir Ekwueme’s love for the game and his humility was underlined when we (an NCC team, Nduka ‘the Duke’ Odizor and my humble self) visited him at his Enugu home in 2016 among other things to invite him to the 2016 grand finale.
The former Vice president summoned some of his tennis loving associates, like Ben Ezeibe, all the way from Onitsha to “ drop whatever you are doing and come over quickly to Enugu, Kienka is bringing Odizor to my house tonight.”
It was an unforgettable experience as he espoused a knowledge of the game that was unimaginable and treated us to a lavish reception that included some fresh palm wine which we found out was part of his early morning or late evening tennis rendezvous with his associates.
May his gentle and tennis loving soul rest in perfect peace!
– Godwin Kienka, Director International Tennis Academy