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Glorification of Igho Natufe As an Octogenarian (2). By Tony Afejuku


Prof Igho Natufe

"His (Prof Igho Natufe) patriotic labour of love was to be, firstly, in a university in Nigeria to groom students, mature students, whom he would provide a “systematic analysis of the famous concepts of the labour theory of value, surplus value, the theory of exploitation, and the polarization of classes.” Afejuku

Professor Omajuwa Igho Natufe is an intriguingly intriguing fellow, an intriguingly intriguing old chap of the Safarian hue true and true. He can/could be agreeably agreeable and disagreeably disagreeable at the same time – an engagingly engaging attribute that, as far as I can remember, helped to illustrate his very intriguing personality. Honestly, I admired him admirably as an intrigrante. This sentence cannot but deserve immediate qualification.

In private conversations with friends, colleagues and students Professor Natufe would strike you as a stammerer or stutterer. But in formal settings such as classroom situations, or occasions for the delivery of public addresses and lectures and symposia you could not but be impressed and carried away by his elegantly, memorably and engrossingly articulated messages and ideas. You would not notice any ounce of stuttering or stammering in his formal oral presentations that provided enlightenment for his listeners/audience (a superb characteristic he shared with his fellow Soviet-trained junior friend, the late Festus Iyayi). In his writing you would find that Professor Natufe that never stammers nor stutters has a humane, deeply knowledgeable and enticingly provocative mind. 

Now let me add that our new octogenarian, a product of St. Patrick School, Sapele, Sacred Heart Catholic School, Warri (both of which were popular Catholic primary schools he attended in the 1950s), Zik’s Academy, Sapele (one of the colleges the great Itsekiri businessman and politician the late Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh founded long before he visibly entered the realm of the equally late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s politics) flourished very impressively as a pupil and as a student respectively. But I am not his gifted official biographer to provide any outstanding details of his stammering and stuttering in his growing up years to when he left our shores in 1964 and became a student, an under-graduate student, of Political Science at Friendship University (now People’s Friendship University of Russia). I knew him effectively from 1962 to 1964 when he was a dashing left winger in the Amukpe All-Stars Football Club founded by Mr. Ibrahim Khalil, a prominent Lebanese businessman and football enthusiast in our region of the country in the then years of years. Amukpe All-Stars was a fabulous football club that took and shook Western Nigeria by brilliant sports storm in that glorious era of glorious eras of radically new thought in everything. Before we Amukpe urchins knew it, Omajuwa Igho Natufe had simply disappeared to God-knew-where! 

His significant disappearance from Amukpe – what the mesmerizing left-winger today call Amuokpe All-Stars – as one evidence and proof - of his Okpe cultural, historical or linguistic nationalism – stimulated more than several academic-minded footballers to alienate and isolate our brilliant feet from the beautifully beautiful round leather. The beginning stages of an academic upswing which would create our economic upswing took us from the football field and ground, especially between 1964 and 1965. Personally, I completely refrained from becoming a Nigerian footballer despite the wishes for me of the late Mr. Anthony Egbokodo and the also late Mr. Igbinovia, two coaches (at different times) of the Amukpe All-Stars. I did not want to live at the edge of starvation!  I must end up in the university and earn a degree! Bye-bye my brilliant feet from all football grounds!

Something is enthusiastically flying me away. But Octogenarian Igho Natufe the intriguer is on my mind with astonishing clarity and the appeal of his radical value (which also has induced this essay) must not slip away. When he completed his Friendship University programme in 1969 he tripped to Canada as a higher degree tripper. At Carleton and thence to Ottawa (McGill) in 1970 he was at a vantage point to compare gloriously (and ingloriously) communism and capitalism. 

At McGill, Professor Igho Natufe seemed to have developed and fleshed out the political-cum-historical-cum-cultural-cum-economic-cum-linguistic concepts Friendship University had already outlined. All this while our Safarian never forgot his homeland; our new octogenarian allowed himself to be fully imbued with the emotions of the labour of love for his country and homeland and Africa. His patriotic labour of love was to be, firstly, in a university in Nigeria to groom students, mature students, whom he would provide a “systematic analysis of the famous concepts of the labour theory of value, surplus value, the theory of exploitation, and the polarization of classes.” 

With this thought or kind of thought at the back of his radical mind, he gave up, temporarily, his job as a Soviet Policy Analyst with the Government of Canada, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and flew to the Department of History of the University of Ibadan in 1976. He taught “Russian and Soviet History”. Before he went to meet the late Professor Obaro Ikime, the Head of History Department of UI, who recruited him, an Itsekiri Professor of Political Science, a fellow Safarian, Professor Billy Dudley (who has since been late) who was the Head of Political Science Department at UI then offered him appointment in the Department. He, however, could not go back on his pact with Professor Obaro Ikime. He was radically principled as ever. Professor Billy Dudley whom Dr. Omajuwa Igho Natufe highly revered as “a very brilliant scholar, arguably the best all-round Political Scientist we ever had in Nigeria” understood Igho Natufe’s predicament perfectly. Something agreeable to the three parties was broachered. Our new octogenarian, then a handsomely handsome young chap of slim body, would teach “Comparative Communist Systems” in the second semester. But this did not happen. Igho Natufe returned to Canada after the first semester. When next he returned to Africa, Ghana was his destination. The reasons for his radical actions are not for me to state here. He left the University of Ghana in 1980 after arriving there in 1978 or so. His next University of call, so to state it, was University of Benin, Benin City where his radicalism as a quiet but sound Awoist of Political Science (who also taught at Bendel State University, Ekpoma) blossomed. Any time I thought of him up till when he returned to his voluntary exile in 1989 or so, it was in this mode: “Never worry who will be offended if you speak the truth. Worry about who will be misled, deceived and destroyed if you don’t.” He saw Obafemi Awolowo in this light – rightly so, I must add.

But nothing can convey his radical temper better than what Albert Camus says in The Myth of Sisyphus as – follows: “What I believe to be true I must therefore preserve. What seems to be so obvious, even against me, I support.”  
His truthfully pointed stance such as this some persons found/find disagreeably disagreeable. There were/are those who even found/find his personality contemptuous – like Karl Marx’s – on this and other scores and would always want to isolate and alienate him. But Professor Omajuwa Igho Natufe, now professing in Russia, never flinches from any radical path of honour. We may call him a true Okpe-Russian! A voraciously voracious reader, he would always tell you that Albert Camus’ The Rebel numbers highly among his favourite books.

As the Chairman of the Movement for National Reform (MNR) Constitutional Review Committee, he and his fellow members will align with their fellow NADECO and PRONACO (Pro-National Conference Organization) philosopher-gems and allies to produce and recommend a truly Nigerian people’s constitution for the country. Okpeland, Itsekiriland, Urhoboland, Beninland, Edoland, Isokoland, Ikwereland, Ogoniland, Ijawland, Yorubaland, Igboland, Tivland, Beromland, Hausaland and all homelands in and of the Nigerian Federation are waiting to be banished all ironies and frustrations and every negative our present constitutions contains. The current constitution must be rigorously and drastically amended to save Nigeria: our country our country our country and our country.

O glorious octogenarian, accept this token of my glorification of your octogenary glorification!


Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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