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He was one of the old school teachers; he believed in what he was doing, and

had so much joy in helping his students come through, he believed so much

in the future, the future of his students.

 
 

 

This Teacher Didn't Teach Us Nonsense

By Uche Nworah

 

I still believe that our encounter with Prof. Emmanuel David Akpan was pre-destined, that God had placed him at the University of Uyo to bless us with his wisdom, and to give hope and pride back to us. I remember vividly our first lectures with him, in the Communication Arts studio it must have been. How he started by running us through his undergraduate days at the San Francisco State University, he wanted to let the class see that he had also been through life’s journey and that we could really achieve whatever we wanted to achieve.

He may not have known it then, but his regular pre-lesson pep talks did help keep our feet on the ground, having journeyed through our teenage years at the mercy of the almighty Joint Admissions & Matriculation Board (JAMB), some of us came to Uyo as frustrated students, because Unilag, OAU (then Unife), UNN, UI and all the other ‘Ivy League’ universities in Nigeria had seemed out of reach.

He made us all to appreciate the Uniuyo (then Unicross) that we had, and encouraged us to work hard and excel, that way we would help to raise the profile of the University. He narrated how he had to leave his lecturing jobs first at UNN, and then Unical to come to ‘obscure’ Unicross to help found the Communication Arts department. Teachers like him don’t come any more in dozens; he was a true communication scholar, alongside the other communication scholars of his generation, the likes of Prof. Frank Okwu Ugboajah, Prof. Onuora Nwuneli, Prof. Solomon Unoh and Prof Ikechukwu Nwosu. If there was ever a Nigerian version of ratemyprofessor.com, I am sure that the praises of the many students, whose lives he touched will easily fill the columns.

He was one of the old school teachers; he believed in what he was doing, and had so much joy in helping his students come through, he believed so much in the future, the future of his students. For this reason, all through our 4 year degree programme, he never sold, nor caused to be sold any handouts in his name, a practice that was prevalent at the time.

Though he was a professor, but that didn’t affect his teaching style, he still regarded himself as a teacher, I remember the lecture we had with him on the topic synergy, he couldn’t have explained the concept any better with his pot of soup and ingredients example. I used to marvel at the fluidity of his thoughts, and the simplicity of the examples he used, tapping from everyday things to explain difficult concepts. He did not revel in academic jargons or big grammar, something the academic world is known for. 

This was obviously as a result of his simple nature, attired usually in native adire clothes, he was always reachable, we didn’t need any protocols to see him, he didn’t mind our stopping him on the sidewalks and discussing any issues. I remember also how he wouldn’t be dragged into some of the university politics at the time, especially over the deanship of the faculty of arts (a position he eventually occupied) and the ASUU/Babangida/Jubril Aminu crises; one of his expressions then was ‘let me quietly go about my business’.

He couldn’t understand the madness and irrationality of what was going on at the time. Injustice inflicted on man by man.

It was from him that we learnt about and experienced positive marking, he judged the students more on their potentials, he recognised that students sometimes have their bad days, and so may not perform well in tests, quizzes and exams. This was at a time that most lecturers took pride in branding students as failures, never-do-wells, olodos, etc. These types of lectures took joy in failing students, they had no issues in awarding a zero out of ten marks for a student’s effort, and then would throw in the icing by drawing in human eyes, and a big smile inside the zero. For these lecturers, such tactics opened opportunities for them to prey on female students or to engage in sorting.

I have carefully preserved this particular test script which he marked in my first year; his comments on my performance couldn’t have come at a better time, he had asked us to explain what we understood by the phrase; man can not, not communicate, having spent half of the time, scratching my head, and looking up to the heavens for help and inspiration, I was surprised at the six marks I scored out of a maximum ten marks, but still more surprised at his encouraging comments; I could see some hope in you, keep it up, he wrote.

Most of our teachers thrive in a culture of condemnation, praise is not anywhere in their dictionaries, not Prof. Akpan. Janet Jackson, the American R & B singer once confessed in an interview that despite her success, she was still hunted by her high school teacher’s comments; the teacher had repeatedly told her that she would never amount to anything in her life. What a difference Professor Akpan’s positive approach made in our lives.

Though it’s now 10 years since he passed on, I want to thank him and to tell him that I enjoyed being his student, he is indeed one of the best teachers that I ever had. His many students scattered all over the world are indeed flying the flag of their Alma matter and proudly carrying the torch lighted by him and the others.

Now that I have also become an academic, I draw lots of inspiration from his style, I assess the students based on what is there, rather than looking for what is not there, this is something several teachers, lecturers or what ever name they prefer to be called these days should seriously consider, especially this one lecturer I once had who seemed to have a penchant for terrorising students, imagine telling me on the first day of his course lectures that no matter how hard I tried, that I wasn’t going to pass the course. 

Hopefully, one day all Prof. Akpan’s past students would be able to pay a more befitting tribute to this great teacher.

In memory of the late Professor Emmanuel David Akpan (Etok Emman). 1938 - 1995

Uche Nworah is freelance writer, lecturer and brand strategist. He studied communications arts at the University of Uyo, Nigeria and graduated with a second class honours degree (upper division). He also holds an M.Sc degree in marketing from the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus and obtained his PGCE (post-graduate certificate in education) from the University of Greenwich where he is currently enrolled as a doctoral candidate. His articles have been published by several websites and leading Nigerian newspapers. He received the ChickenBones Journalist of the Year award in 2006.

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power

By Zbigniew Brzezinski

By 1991, following the disintegration first of the Soviet bloc and then of the Soviet Union itself, the United States was left standing tall as the only global super-power. Not only the 20th but even the 21st century seemed destined to be the American centuries. But that super-optimism did not last long. During the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the stock market bubble and the costly foreign unilateralism of the younger Bush presidency, as well as the financial catastrophe of 2008 jolted America—and much of the West—into a sudden recognition of its systemic vulnerability to unregulated greed. Moreover, the East was demonstrating a surprising capacity for economic growth and technological innovation. That prompted new anxiety about the future, including even about America’s status as the leading world power. This book is a response to a challenge. It argues that without an America that is economically vital, socially appealing, responsibly powerful, and capable of sustaining an intelligent foreign engagement, the geopolitical prospects for the West could become increasingly grave. The ongoing changes in the distribution of global power and mounting global strife make it all the more essential that America does not retreat into an ignorant garrison-state mentality or wallow in cultural hedonism but rather becomes more strategically deliberate and historically enlightened in its global engagement with the new East.  Q&A with Zbigniew Brzezinski

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Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam

By Fred A. Wilcox  and  Introduction by Noam Chomsky

Scorched Earth is the first book to chronicle the effects of chemical warfare on the Vietnamese people and their environment, where, even today, more than 3 million people—including 500,000 children—are sick and dying from birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses that can be directly traced to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure. Weaving first-person accounts with original research, Vietnam War scholar Fred A. Wilcox examines long-term consequences for future generations, laying bare the ongoing monumental tragedy in Vietnam, and calls for the United States government to finally admit its role in chemical warfare in Vietnam. Wilcox also warns readers that unless we stop poisoning our air, food, and water supplies, the cancer epidemic in the United States and other countries will only worsen, and he urgently demands the chemical manufacturers of Agent Orange to compensate the victims of their greed and to stop using the Earth’s rivers, lakes, and oceans as toxic waste dumps. Vietnam has chosen August 10—the day that the US began spraying Agent Orange on Vietnam—as Agent Orange Day, to commemorate all its citizens who were affected by the deadly chemical. Scorched Earth will be released upon the third anniversary of this day, in honor of all those whose families have suffered, and continue to suffer, from this tragedy. Noam Chomsky & Fred Wilcox Book-TV

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 31 January 2012

 

 

 

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