The Story of a Gentleman – A tribute to My Father In-law [Chief (Dr) G.A.D Tabansi (1932-2010)]

Nwawelugo!  That was the Igbo acclamation name you were identified with while you lived.  It is a trademark of the Igbo race of Nigeria for accomplished people to be hailed by an indigenous acclamation that served as a name and trademark. In your case, Nwawelugo, in simple translation means; Son Take Your Glory. History will tell if indeed you took your God given glory while you lived.

If there is one word I can use to describe your personality, it is that you were a gentleman, a complete one at that. I got to know this shortly after I met you; when I made initial moves to marry your third daughter, Jane, now my wife. And subsequent encounters proved that really, you were a gentleman, a quality that is in short supply in Nigeria today.

Our first meeting was at your Oregun Road, Ikeja, Lagos residence, early January 1991, shortly after your return from London. We discussed. I told you my life and professional story and my mission to marry Jane. Then I was a practicing journalist as Editor, Financial Post, Nigeria’s first business magazine for entrepreneurs like you  which I edited from 1988-1991. You had not heard of the magazine then, and I remember giving you some complimentary copies I brought along and a subscription form. You promptly subscribed. That was an act of good faith.

I still remember a question you asked me at our first meeting: “Why you are not married at 36?” I remember telling you that I spent time helping my father, alive then, but now late, to train my younger ones in school. You consented to my marital request and gave your daughter’s hand in marriage to me. I also remember you made one thing clear to me at that first meeting: You don’t choose spouses for your children and you don’t demand outrageous bride prices from suitors. November 30, 1991, we wedded, barely 10 months after meeting you.

All through our marriage you were there for us, advising us, helping us and supporting me, Jane, and our four children.  In fact you were the person that named our first child Chidubem, now an undergraduate in a university. You were devoted to our Lord Jesus Christ and your call to evangelism was evident through your Divine Mercy Ministry to which you were also devoted. In business you excelled. The story of Nigeria’s music industry cannot be told without your name being mentioned. You pioneered the growth of this industry way back in the 1960s via buying and selling of the recordings of foreign artistes on vinyl.

In fact it is to your credit for facilitating the entry of EMI, the global entertainment giant into Nigeria. Early 1970s, you sent up a record label, Tabansi Records (later renamed Tabansi Music Publishers) to compete with foreign labels such as EMI and Decca West Africa. And from you label, you nurtured and promoted many young Nigerian artistes to stardom. Some of them are Nigeria ‘s reggae superstar, Majek Fashek, of the Send Down The Rain best selling album  fame of 1988; Felix Lebarty, now a Pastor; and Stella Monye. The albums from your record label told many soul lifting stories in music whose messages still stand the test of time.

When my father died in July 1993, you were about the first person, besides my family members, that went to my family compound at Abagana, Anambra State Nigeria, even before I returned from Lagos. You gave me tremendous support during my father’s burial, being there with your family members in full force. You did same for my mother’s burial in 2003. These and more, made you to command great respect in my family.

At a time, I thought of what I can do for a father in-law that has been so good to me and my family. I settled for writing your biography, to tell the story of your life, your business, and your call to evangelism. As a prince of the ancient Nri Kingdom, regarded by world-acclaimed historians and anthropologists as the origin of the Negro race, Igbos of Nigeria, I believed your biography would be a great story of enduring cultural value with plenty of lessons for today’s young entrepreneurs that are operating in the digital age.

It has to because you came from a royal household; a scion of the revered Nri monarch, your father, Tabansi Udene, Nrijiofor II, who ruled the Umunri Clan in Anambra State for 43 years. A rich story it would be. You bought the idea, we started work on it some years ago, and after several interviews, writing and corrections, I gave you the draft copy. You went through it and said you wanted more information to be added.

Our last discussion on your biography was at your Oregun Road residence, Lagos, December 2009. You brought out your draft copy and said you wanted me to complete work on the book and for it to be launched on your 80th birthday. Alas, that will be no more. You passed on, April 3, two days after your 78th birthday. But the book as it now, essentially captures the story of your roots, life, achievements and sojourn on earth.

Those, whose lives you touched will surely miss you, most especially Nigeria’s music industry which you pioneered and built. The greatest tribute we can pay you is to put your story in print and multimedia by publishing your biography, emulate your good works and keep your Divine Mercy Ministry going.

A gentleman has departed to be with the Lord. Fare thee well Nwawelugo.

Your son in-law,
Eric Okeke


Eric Okeke is a storyteller, editor, business writer, motivational speaker and author of the best selling book: I Want a Husband. He is one of Nigeria’s most experienced financial journalists. He has published several articles in local and foreign publications and in websites such as http://www.ezinearticles.com, www.ezinearticles.com and www.writingcareer.com. He is currently running Infomedia Company, a media consulting and information marketing company. Visit his blog at http://sallywantsahusband.blogspot.com

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