•METHODIST CHURCH Of NIGERIA, His Eminence Dr. KANU UCHE
Congratulations your Eminence, on your 65th birthday.
How does turning this age make you feel?
My birthday was only a way of thanking God, giving God the glory for sparing my life all these years because, without God I am nothing. My birth was a miraculous birth because my mother had been regarded as a woman that could not bear a child because her first 2 children before me all died.
One was still born. That was the girl, in 1949. In the first place when my mother married in 1937, she could not conceive. And in those days it was a big deal to conceive on time. If you are not bearing a child they will tell your husband are you sure, you did not marry a wood..? Are you sure you did not marry a fellow man?
Eventually, the pregnancy came. In 1994, the first delivery was a girl. This girl came out successfully but died after delivery. Then the second one came in 1951, it was a boy. The boy couldn’t wait till full period of gestation. The boy was born when it was 8 months. It was premature.
So, at delivery he died. So, people wagged their tongues and said all sorts of things. They made spurious statements against my mother so my mother had that experience as a young lady. She was depressed. She was traumatised. She was embarassed. My father lived in a church compound where he was pastoring. Whenever my father goes for church assignments my mother would close the door of the church and roll on the floor just outside the altar and she will tell God, please give me a son, I would offer him to you. What Hannah did is what I am going to do. Eventually, there was conception. There was gestation and I was born on the 29th of January 1953 at exactly 2am. And my mother told my father that I should be named Samuel.
My father said simply I will call him Chukwu Emeka (God has done it). And my maternal grand mother (the mother of my mother) called me Esuboonu. (That is if you follow the poor people you will die). My maternal grandmother the mother of my father called me Chukwugezire (God has judged well). All these names have meanings and that is how I started growing, and growing and growing, and went to primary school, secondary school, theological education for training and end up in a University where I did first degree and post graduate studies.
I had this award of Doctor of Theology (honoris causa) from the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities in America. By the grace of God, I have so many certificates and I have presented papers both here and overseas and also participated in workshop. This has taken me to Jerusalem, Isreal, US, UK for conferences. God has been leading me. He made me to successfully become a Deacon and after ordination, a Priest, after 10 years of being a Priest, I became a Presbyter. After being a Presbyter, I became a Bishop. After I became an Archbishop, now a Prelate. That is the highest level in the church for me, it was a pleasant surprise because I never expected it. I saw it coming entirely by the grace of God. Whatever I have been and whatever I will be is by the Grace of God.
People were surprised when I said all the money raised at my birthday should be used to build staff quarters. I don’t want any kobo. I wasn’t showing off in doing that. I have only quatified what God has done for me. If the whole world were mine, it is not enough to give him thanks. Compared to what he has done. He has done so much for me. I feel always that God loves me more than every other person on earth, because of the peculiar way he treats me. I feel that he loves me. I believe I am the apple of Gods eyes.
Why do you think so?
Look at God raising me from Dungeon to Grace, from Obscruity to Prominence. It is a rare thing. My birthday thanksgiving is a way of saying God I appreciate what you have done. It is for him to do more.\
So, you like the turn out for your birthday?
Oh, yes. It made me know what I didn’t know about myself, which came to the fore. It became evident that I am loved by not only church people but by society people also. I couldn’t believe that President Mohamadu Buhari would honour my invitation. He was ably represented.
I was told that he wanted to come himself but he went for a meeting in Addis Ababa. And the Vice President that he had originally delegated to come, he gave him another assignment to go and receive the corps of late Vice President, Alex Ekwueme. The Vice President sent the Pastor in-charge of Aso-Rock.
The President sent the Minister for NDDC. Many people came including Police, Captains of Industry, the academia, businessmen, young and old people, they all came. It was a mammoth crowd. The crowd was filled up so much so that people began to wonder what was happening. Cars of the dignitaries that came for the birthday were over 600, accrding to our officials who were outside.
I was looking at small me attracting all these people. Look at me. Look at my size. Is it this small me? To God be the glory.
You are 65, but you don’t look it. You still bounce around. You are still very fit. What is the secret?
Oh my God (He laughs). Thanks for the compliment. The Bible says that those who trust in the Lord will be like the Eagle. The will soar like the Eagle. The Eagle soars. When I went to Orlando, sometime ago, we went to a centre where we saw Eagles. The woman who led us around said with the Eagles you can’t identify who is older. She said one of the eagles there had lived for 100 years, but if you saw that older eagle, it looked like the baby ones.
What happens is that from time to time the feather is pruned and they grow new ones. You cannot know. They always look young. They are always looking young. They have vigour, strength. Before an Eagle zooms off it needs to generate enough power, vigour and strength. That was how the 2 brothers that designed aeroplane did it. It was fashioned after the Eagle. At take off the Eagle gathers strength.
So, in my own case God did it. God has given me strength. God has given me wisdom to stop eating what I should not eat. When you are aging, when you are 60 and above, and you don’t jump around, you should not eat starch, since you are not a farmer. Eating starch is killing yourself. You can take a little starch. I take more of fruits and vegetables. I avoid red meat. I take fish, mushroom, snail. The best swallow I take are 2. What I swallow now is either Amala, because Amala is well processed or unripe plantain flour. I take them to avoid sugar in the blood.
Sugar in the blood can kill. Even if you have had it, you can manage it through your diet, not by taking any drug. What will ensure you live long is by your eating habit.
I discovered that maintaining a healthy eating habit has helped a lot. As I am here with you now, I am feeling the way I felt when I was 40. I can run. I can jump. The only thing worrying me in life is the stress of this work. One is encumbered by not physical stress. I mean mental stress.
You know stress can kill. It can cause anxiety and can cause hypertension. It can make your BP rise. As for physical stress, I thank God. God has given me that physical stress