An Unforgettable Renaissance Man: a tribute to Chief Aemecheta Hyacinth Ugwu
By Dr Kenny C Acholonu
The passing away of Chief Hyacinth Aemecheta Ugwu was the most
devastating news that my family and I have come to bear for a long time.
Chief Ugwu was a part of my family for the past 35years. He was an
excellent friend, a mentor, and a remarkable companion for all occasions.
His wise counsel, practical solutions to day to day life issues, both personal
and business, would always remain a treasure for all of us who knew him
very well. Above all, he was neither a man for dogma nor cant, but instead
saw both sides of all issues with an open mind and brilliant insights.
Chief Ugwu, as many of his friends know him, touched many lives and in
many different ways. I was privileged to have met Chief Ugwu in 1980
when I was in charge of the Vitamins & Minerals Division of Roche Nigeria
Ltd. Instantly, I noticed that his unassuming demeanour puts anyone at
ease. You could say that he reduced the temperature of his immediate
environment to allow for a productive conversation. His simplicity and good
organisational behaviour were worthy of emulation for anyone willing to
learn. Moreover, I believe he found me an outstanding student and indeed
became my mentor, as my career in Roche Nigeria Ltd blossomed from a
Manager to a Director in 1984.
When I left Roche in 1991, his support was invaluable during my transition
from ex-director of a multinational to a self-employed entrepreneur. Indeed,
my company, Bioorganics Nutrients Systems Ltd, started officially at his
office at Alausa in 1991.
Chief Ugwu was indeed a great man, and like all great men, one had to
understand the contradictions of his worldview. As the computer age
emerged in the early 80’s, Chief Ugwu immersed himself in the practical
application of information technology, and I believe until he passed away
last month he was using his iPad actively. From a literati, he transformed
effortlessly to a digiterati and could discuss any current topic with lucidity.
He was the Renaissance Man, at home with the sciences as with the arts.
As an optimist, he had a passion for getting things done and became a
great builder, both for his home and for his business. As a diplomat, he
made friends quickly and ensured he sustained the friendship. This attitude
helped him so much at the golf course, where he achieved an eight
handicap within nine months.
He was indeed an epitome of the abundance mentality principle as
explained by Stephen Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly
Effective People. He was ageless, and until he passed away, I could not
place him above 75 yrs, though he clocked 86.
He was a well-known personality in Agidingbi, at home with the indigenes
as with others as the small community expanded over the years. He
brought me into that town where I built my first house and lived for many
The word empathy could be his middle name as he deplored misery and
wanted the best for all. He used his language skills (versed in French and
other foreign languages) to good effect for Nigeria, Biafra and back to
Nigeria, negotiating safe passage for Biafran refugees to Zambia and
Gabon. He worked with Nnamdi Azikiwe, Col Odimegwu Ojukwu, Emperor
Haile Sellasie and Kofi Annan, among others.
As a nobleman, he lived to the real virtue of nobility and shone like a star
amongst his colleagues and friends. Moreover, he passed on this great
attribute to his immediate family, and all the children have done
exceptionally well in their various fields of human endeavour. It may be
challenging to wish Chief Ugwu a goodbye because friends like him cannot
die as his words and deeds would remain evergreen in our hearts.
Hyacinth Aemecheta Ugwu was the Uzzi Omeaku 1 of his hometown,
Amuzi, Obowo, in Imo State, Nigeria. He also held a chieftaincy title from
the people of Agidingbi, Ikeja where he built his home and lived for about
40 years. Born on September 9, 1931, Chief Ugwu departed this plane on
September 20, 2017. His remains will be interred on Friday, November
November 10, 2017.
He lived life to the full. From the St Brigid’s Primary School, Nnaramba,
Ahiara, Ahiazu Mbaise LGA, he schooled at Christ the King College,
Onitsha, leaving in 1949. He then went to the University of Legon, Accra,
Ghana where he studied Economics and Geography, graduating in 1958.
He entered the diplomatic corps first as a graduate student of the Ministry
of External Affairs, 1960-1963. He would later serve Nigeria as a diplomat
for ten years. Post-service, this global citizen first worked and lived in
Zambia for four years before returning to Nigeria. He ran his Chiss Limited
which transformed into Chiss Industries and Chiss Inks. He engaged in the
supply of industrial chemicals for water treatment to food manufacture, to
the supply of ground rice and the production of printing inks.
His wife, Chief Mrs Virginia Ugwu, and four children and nine grandchildren
survive him. The children are Mrs Adanna Onyewuchi, Dr (Mrs) Chinwe
Ogedegbe, Mr Jarikre Ugwu and Mrs Eberechi Ugwu-Amole. Their life
stories are a testament to the quality of husband and father Chief Ugwu
My wife, I and our children share with them the pain of this loss. We pray
that the good Angels of the Lord keep him safe and happy forever.
Dr Kenny Acholonu
Founder, Bioorganics Nutrient Systems Ltd.