30 May 2013


ROME, MAY 28, 2013 in the Philosophy Department of Pontifical Urban University Rome, Prof. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah and a group of African students in the Licentiate class bid one another farewell as they rounded up his course “FL1041: Kwasi Wiredu, Cultural Universals and Particulars (a Seminar in English Language on African Philosophy). Prof. Onah introduced the course this academic year (the only course taught in English language in the faculty). It was a project aimed at teaching African Philosophy, alternating between English and French languages every academic year. But like he said in a lighter mood in one of his classes, the appointment has terminated a dream when it just started getting sweeter. However, he told his students that as a servant, one needs always to be ready and docile to respond to duty calls.

Speaking to his students, Prof. Onah admitted that he habitually handles his students, lay and clergy, as adults and fellow priests respectively, and not just as mere students. He believes that every priest and lay student in the university is an adult, and should be treated as such. He also expressed his age-long disapproval for the title “My Lord” being used for Bishops. According to him, he prefers the title ‘Father Bishop’ (‘Nna-anyi Bishop’) to ‘My Lord Bishop’ (‘Onyenwe m/Dinwenu m Bishop’), and expressed his intention to prudently continue to insist on the former as much as he would be able to. 

Responding to a question from one of his students on whether homosexuality has a moral or social consequence, he reasoned that it is a problem of human nature. As such, that it is an anthropological issue with moral, social, economic and political consequences. Nature he said, made no mistakes in fashioning beings as male and female. That someone enjoys or prefers eating through the nose and not the mouth, or walking on the hands and not the legs does not remove the fact that what is abnormal is abnormal. The same people who are propagating artificial birth control are the same people championing homosexuality. And their major aim, he suspects, is to reduce nature’s control over the issue of procreation and limit it within the confines of science, so that it would be monopolized by scientists, and made affordable to those who can afford it, when and how it would be affordable, he argued. And he expressed fear that his suspicion is gradually becoming a reality.

Prof Onah called on his students to dismiss their fears about Nigeria which is based on the media reports about Boko Haram and the ugly pictures painted by the movies about Nigeria. Now that they have a friend like him in Nigeria, he expressed the hope to see each and every one of them in Nsukka at one time or the other in the future. In a vote of thanks, the class representative for the course, Rev. Fr. Hyuwa Y. Everest from Nigeria, thanked him on behalf of the class for his fatherly and selfless efforts towards the academic growth of his students, and for his contributions towards the growth of the mother Church in general. Prof Onah and his students wished one another the best in their future endeavors.

The following day, May 29, the entire Philosophy Faculty gathered in his honour to bid him farewell in gratitude for his immense contributions to the faculty, and wish him well in his new assignment. Present at the occasion were Rev. Fr. Prof. G. Mazzotta (Dean of the Faculty), Prof. (Mrs.) L. Congiunti (successor to Prof. Onah as Vice Rector), Rev. Fr. Prof. L. Sileo (director of Licentiate Program in Philosophy), Prof. P. Miccoli (one-time lecturer to Prof. Onah), Prof. L. Tuninetti, and many other lecturers. In a brief remark, Prof Onah thanked his fellow professors, some of whom were his own teachers in the past, and at least one of them who was his own student. He also thanked the entire students for the fraternity he enjoyed in the faculty. He recalled that he has spent about twenty five years learning to be a professor. And now that he should start rendering account of what he has learnt, he has been called for another responsibility which he has not learnt about. Finally, he expressed his wish to host anyone who would be able to make it to Nsukka any day.

It would be recalled that Msgr. G. I. Onah was appointed the bishop-elect of the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka –Nigeria on April 13, 2013, by His Holiness Pope Francis to succeed Bishop Francis E. O. Okobo, who is due for retirement. Until his appointment Msgr. Onah was holding the chair of Philosophical Anthropology, and at the same time serving his second tenure as the first African Vice Rector of his alma mater, the Pontifical Urban University Rome, Italy. He was also a consultor of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. His episcopal ordination comes up in Nsukka on July 4, 2013.

Deede Uche’s World wishes Msgr. Onah all the best in his future endeavors, both in the priestly ministry and in his personal life. May God who has begun this good work in him bring it to fulfillment, Amen.

1 comment:

  1. I sincerely congratulate and thank Prof.Onah
    for his strong faith and patience,
    for his pure brain and kind heart,
    with profound, ardent respect for his Ancestors' Culture and Land.
    Shigekazu YANAGIMACHI,
    in Kyoto.