Saturday, December 26, 2020 2:50 am
By Kingsley Moghalu
I arrived Genesis House, my country home in Akaboezem Community in Uruagu, Nnewi North LGA, yesterday. Since I built it in 2004 while a #UN official in Geneva, it’s been an oasis that connects me to my roots in my local community.
It stands on the site of my late father Isaac Moghalu’s bungalow (Washington House) that he built in 1966 while he was a Nigerian Foreign Service Officer. We spent most of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war in this compound, which was different then- it also had an air raid bunker!
As is traditional with the Igbos, my late father’s grave is here also. It pained me to have to break down his house to build Genesis House because we did not have a large expanse of land. Many fond memories, including getting lost (and later found!) when, enthralled by their music, I followed a masquerade group that performed at the funeral of my uncle Godson (who was a Biafran soldier and was killed at the war front) home to their own village faraway. The six year old yours truly had no clue where he was or that he had strayed far from home!
After the war, my father brought us home for Christmas every year. I have followed that tradition, and was in fact on “home leave” from my UN duty post in Tanzania here with my own nuclear family in December 1998 when dad passed away at 73.
Before the war, Igbos rarely built modern homes in their ancestral hometowns even when they had comfortable homes (and, often, other real estate investments) in every nook and corner of Nigeria. But the war came and many who were internally displaced persons from the north and the Southwest and other parts during the war learnt the lesson to “build at home”.
My father was one of the few who thought ahead and so when the civil war came, we had his comfortable bungalow. Today, a comfortable abode in our hometown is often the first home we build from our professional or business labors. It’s an emotional investment that yields no financial return, but a necessary one.
-Professor Kingsley Moghalu, former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria and President, Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation, is a Distinguished Non-Resident Fellow and Senior Fellow, Council on Emerging Market Enterprises, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University Massachusetts, USA.