By Leo Igwe
I was deeply saddened to hear about the sudden death of my former French language teacher, friend and mentor, Mr Emma Edu. Monsieur Edu, as he was fondly called by his students, passed away last week at the Federal Medical Center in Owerri, Imo State in Southern Nigeria, after a brief illness. One of my former students Chidi Chimah, sent me a message via facebook informing me of this tragic and heart breaking incident. I do not know much about Edu’s personal life. In fact??I do not his exact age. But I think Monsieur Edu was in his late 50s. I know very little about his family background.? I can recall that he once told me that he hailed from Obudu in Cross River State. He had a wife and three children.
Mr Edu taught me french language at Mater Ecclesiae Seminary Nguru Imo State in 1983 and later at St Peter Claver Seminary from 1984 to 1987.?He was a diligent teacher. I call him?a French language teacher par excellence!?He taught French language so well that it became my favorite subject and remains my second best foreign language till date. Edu was a charismatic and creative teacher. For some reasons, many students did not like the subject. But Edu made French language attractive and turned many students of French language into ‘mini rock stars’. This is because he did not stop at just teaching the subject in the classroom.??He groomed his students to participate in state and national French language competitions. He them to act dramas, recite poems and sing songs in French.
He was the first French language teacher to take St Peter Claver Seminary to the state?competition in 1985. I was part of the 1986 contingent. And our school came second. He won the cups of the state and national French language competitions several times. He achieved this not only as a teacher at Okpala seminary but also as a teacher at different secondary schools in Abia and Rivers states. He was a much sought after french teacher by principals and proprietors of schools.
Monsieur Edu did not only encourage me to study and speak French. He persuaded and supported me as an auxiliary French teacher at the Mater Ecclesiae Seminary to register my school for the state french competition in 1988. My school came second and his school??first. Our schools competed in subsequent years. And in 1991, my school defeated his school on ‘technical grounds’. By my own judgement, Monsieur Edu’s school, St Peter Claver Seminary, won the cup in 1991 but it was awarded to my school because Edu had some unresolved issues with the Ministry of Education in Owerri. His school won the cup three times and refused to hand the cup back to the ministry as the ‘tradition’ demanded.
Edu had a fighting spirit. He never gave up on his goals. He was a go-getter. He impressed these ideals on the generations of students he taught and several talents he nurtured while teaching French language in many schools across the country. His death is a huge loss to me and to his former students. He death is a huge loss to french teaching program in Nigeria. I miss him a lot. I would like to conclude this tribute using the language he taught as much as I can screw up now.
Adieu Monsieur Edu. Toujours quand on a fini de parler, on dit ‘ A bientot’ ‘On se vera’. Mais maintenant on ne se vera jamais! Jamais Monsieur Edu!! On ne peux pas parler encore au telephone! Mais c’est la vie. Merci Monsieur Edu Merci pour votre service, pour votre amities, pour votre creativite
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Adieu Adieu Adieu Monsieur Emma Edu

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