A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE WORTH APPLAUDING
This piece is a preamble to the story of our current feature in the Celebrating Super-Jacksonites’* Series. Our focus is on Vincent ‘da Vinci’ Ihesinulo, a multi-talented guy. When he was admitted into the department and came to my office, I took a liking to him because he reminded me of my cousin, Ibe Abrahams. In due course, I saw that he had a great command of English and was versatile or better put, superb in the arts. As a result, when I was to autograph for him one of my books that he bought, this is what I wrote:
After life’s walk is through,
Here’s what I’ll have men say of you:
Writer, cartoonist, portraitist –
da Vinci, the consummate artist.
He touched the world with pen and pencil,
Many wrongs he strived to cancel.
If you think my portrayal of him is rather flamboyant, wait till you read his story. What I’m offering in this introduction is a more personal perspective borne out of my interactions with him. Vincent was bright, well-known on campus and handsome, but he was not proud. And he was not crooked. I could entrust confidential matters to him and he never abused that privilege.
He was also a respectful and sincere lad. Besides his academic work, he had many irons in the fire at every point. Yet, he gladly ran errands for me. He would come to see how I was doing and ask if I needed help. If I hesitated because I knew about his busy schedule, he would encourage me to tell him what I needed done and he would make time to attend to it. Some young people who are far less busy keep their distance or tell lies when they suspect you want them to assist you with something (then and now). He may not remember this but I do and it’s a testimony to his character.
He is a guy with a very strong social conscience and this informed his club activities, political and journalistic pursuits as a student. These are the kinds of young people I would love to see at the helm of affairs in Nigeria, people who go beyond words and invest whatever it takes to actualise altruistic goals. But permit me to personalise further to show that Vincent is nice both publicly and privately.
Calling to say “How are you?” is something most people won’t do unless they need help from you. I was telling someone that teachers are treated like pastors. People remember them when they can be useful which is alright because it’s a privilege to be in a line of work where you can help people. Life, in my view, is meaningless if not lived in service of God and others. But I digress. Vincent has maintained steady contact since graduation and he means it when he asks how I’m getting along.
I want to share a particular instance that happened a few years ago. (Pardon me, Vincent!) I’d spent a lot of money on something I considered important and planned to get to the end of the month by the skin of my teeth. However, a strike happened and when the month ended, our salaries were withheld. I had a tiny respite but the strike lingered for months. It was a trying time for me. And Vincent sent me help.
What marks a person out as generous is not necessarily the size or showiness of their giving but giving when they are not expecting a return from the receiver and giving when it’s inconvenient. It wasn’t a good time at all for him ’cause his home had been raided by brigands and it had been a sweeping exercise. Need I say more?
Much as I commended Vincent’s extra-curricular engagements and accomplishments, I urged more weighting for his academic work but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Something else I brought up often which I still look forward to is to see Vincent become born again. Apparently, he’s of the persuasion that all one needs is to do his best, no need to pigeon-hole yourself and lay an undeserved claim to perfection. But being saved is not self-righteousness (you know, claiming you’re faultless by your own power or acting holier-than-thou), it is appropriating the finished work of Christ and living according to His word by His grace. Pigeon-holing in this context is good – it keeps you accountable to God and people around you.
Nonetheless, I’m celebrating Vincent for his great strides in campus journalism, for stretching himself to better the lot of others through his writings, politics and club engagements and also for being a nice person, a decent human being. But I knew that if I undertook to write about him, I would not be able to capture the full extent of his endeavours here. So I present to you the story of Vincent ‘da Vinci’ Ihesinulo in his own words. The story is split into his time at UNN and his activities subsequently which show that the UNN part was not a fluke.
MY EVENTFUL YEARS AT UNN by VINCENT IHESINULO
MY LIFE AFTER SCHOOL by VINCENT IHESINULO
*The term “Super-Jacksonites” refers to graduates of the mass communication department, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (formerly called Jackson School of Journalism).
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