The study of the life and times of Chief William Ibeneme Ojiako exposes the life of a great man who achieved greatness through hard work, patience and perseverance. This work studied his genealogy, birth, education and the various career he pursued in a bid to attain greatness. The efforts of this seasoned community leader towards the development of Umuchu community. His role in the growth of his local church and the good relationship he fostered in his business stands out to speak volumes for him. This work enjoins the youth of this generation to toe the line of hard work as was seen in the life of Chief W. I. Ojiako, rather than living in with the get rich quick mentality which has adversely affected our African value system.
1.1 Background to the Study
The place of individuals in historical reconstruction cannot be neglected. This is because a historical study of a given country, state and community cannot be complete without the study of certain individuals and actors who piloted and or contributed to the growth and development of the society they lived in. It is based on this premise that we identify with the popular notion that events of history cannot be studied in isolation, but in relation to the people involved. The activities of heroes, leaders, philanthropists, teachers, community leaders and other people who distinguished themselves in their chosen careers abound in the African communities. These people have in one way or another contributed immensely to making their communities what they are today.
With the advent of colonialism and the consequent western form of education, African heroes seemed to have been eroded from the memory of Africans. This was because the Europeans taught African about European and other foreign heroes like Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Tsar Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill to mention a few. The studies of these foreign heroes suffice till date in the departments of History all over Africa. Also, with the growth of African nationalism at the dawn of colonialism, attention widened and the study of African politicians and Nationalists began gradually to creep into historical literatures.
In recent times, the biographical searchlight beamed on community leaders and philanthropists who have encouraged hard work and selfless community service. The Igbo of Nigeria are known for community self-help efforts in the building of infrastructure and overall development of their communities. The reward for this is that those who have made a mark in their communities are entrusted with more responsibilities for the growth and development of their communities. These people most time are also honoured with chieftaincy titles.
Studying the biographies of these distinguished personalities who are either dead or alive, brings out their lives and Endeavours in such a way that the younger generation and the generation to come will appreciate their contributions. This is in line with the position of Nicolson Harold; that “biography is written with no other purpose than that of conveying to the reader an authentic portrait of the individual whose life is being studied”1. In studying biography, the researcher should as well ensure that the work be like the close of a drama which leaves behind its feeling of serenity and in which we will collect a small bunch of those sweetness of life2. By this, hard work, firmness and community service will be encouraged.
Chief William I. Ojiako is a personality that cannot be shoved aside in the study of the history of Umuchu community. W. I. Ojiako, in his 90-years sojourn on earth, lived for his immediate community in particular and the Igbo and Nigeria in general. As a teacher, trader, community leader, employer of labour, church leader, and traditional prime minister of Umuchu, he distinguished