THE ORPHAN- REVIEW by Uzoma Nwokocha
Leonardo Ravenhill, the accomplished revivalist, told us the story of a man who visited an alien community and asked an old man there, “Has any great man been born here?” In response, the old man said, “No great man has ever been born here, only babies.” It is not to be argued that all great men and all of us are born as babies. What we eventually become is a game of choice, not of chance, a choice that is founded on our determination and on our stamina in carving out a stable path for ourselves. God moulded us with equal and adequate and inner constitution to rise to all we choose to become.
In consonance with Ravenhill’s age-old story and unlike the salient cause of the documentation of the histro-journalistic compilation called biography; which its authorship is usually prompted by the writer’s conviction of a sense of great fulfillment and achievement on the part of the protagonist, Ugochukwu Aliche, makes a turn from the inspiring causes of the writing of the biography. Given his wild-fire proficiency in philosophical and scientific studies, areas where he has written hundreds of authoritative and reference books he moralizes that a man may start without advantages. He moralizes that what a man starts with does not necessarily determine where he ends up.
In Ugochukwu Aliche’s thirty-two chapter biography entitled The Orphan, he insists that greatness or fulfillment is a journey that may start from a man’s “Ground Zero Point”; the rubbles of a poor background, a past of pain, abuses, mistakes, weaknesses, losses, failures and other incomprehensible disadvantages and setbacks. As the biography opens, we encounter the protagonist, Aliche Ufomba, a man nature brought into a near barren world; a world where nature had eaten up Aliche’s father and mother; a world where his step-mother suffered abject poverty and where Aliche, the orphan, was degraded.
The novel opens in a world where “the sewage pipe” of abject poverty had been broken; a world where drought and sterility were almost overwhelmingly erasing man from the surface of the universe. The author presents his father in a world that had been stripped of almost its beauty and grace. He introduces Aliche, the orphan, as a boy bereft of nature’s grace. We see the elemental and divine forces of natural lurking to chop-off the protagonist from the surface of the universe. We see the orphan born into a world that had almost drifted into its holocaust.
Ugochukwu Aliche presents the story of his father, Aliche Ufomba, who rose from grass to greatness; a man who said no to poverty, to death and a man who made a choice for himself. He presents the story of Aliche, the orphan, who decides to convert the challenges of life into stepping stones with which he rode the horse of greatness. He wittingly presents his father as a predictable character, a character you are sure will always overcome his problems. He presents a character who falls in proper place with Zig Ziglars findings that: 75% of 300 world class leaders are raised in poverty and abused as children.
In the first five chapters, Ugochukwu Aliche, painstakingly weaves the story of the poor orphan, Aliche Ufomba, who escapes death from hunger, from his stepmother and from a ritualist. Possessing the survival instinct of the four lepers at the gate of Samaria in the days of the famine in Israel; who questioned their realities, “what are we doing sitting here at deaths door… if we stay here we’ll die. So let take our chance in the camp Aram…” (2kings 7:3,4); in chapter Six, Aliche secures an invitation to travel out of the village and unfortunately again in chapter nine he faces the attack of armed robber on his way to survival. Determined to be ‘there’ than remain ‘here’, Aliche continues his journey to greatness as he settles in Maha a town in Cameroon.
In Maha, he starts as a petty trader and finally metamorphosizes into a big merchant. He opens shops, runs his happy family and finally buys a car. As one with set-back stories to tell, and as one determined to override such elemental difficulties; Maha becomes hostile for him and he finally returns to his native town where he celebrates with his people. Like a magician, here at Amapu, he touches the lives of his people philanthropically and expands his business. He becomes a community leader and the biography ends with what his community considers a millennium thanksgiving.
In this book, the orphan, Anthony Ugochukwu Aliche fittingly provides and craftingly weaves a strong call for us to take our destiny in our hands and metamorphose into what God intended that we should be on creation morning.
Drawing snappishly from proven life principles and from his father’s personal journey, Ugochukwu Aliche shows the road-map for anyone who wants to move from the point called “here” to the destination of greatness called “there”. Using refreshingly lucid and vivid expressions, he chronicles the story of his father, who unlike most men refused to give zero level lame excuses for remaining permanent tenants of poverty. He translates from the clutches of abject poverty, from the domain of a nonentity to the estates of a man of sophisticated pedigree. Like other great scholars, Ugochukwu Aliche posses the following questions: would you dare to dream? Would you dare embrace change, embrace alternative realities? Would you dare grab the essential garbs of passions, commitment doing more that required and associating with the great? Would you dare develop a warrior’s “can do” attitude? Would you dare accept contrary winds as what you require to make the flight to the heights called greatness as the orphan.
If we can, then we are like Aliche Ufomba, the great Orphan. Our response to Ravenhill’s question of “Has any great man been born here? Becomes, ‘Yes’ “A great man has been born here in Aliche”, the orphan, and in us as well for stubbornly believing that we can turn the debris of poverty to the bliss of success and greatness.
Uzoma Nwokochah is a Senior Lecturer at the Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria