Elder Gabriel Nkanang: Remembering the Golden Goose which laid the Golden Egg
By Rev Richard Peters
Death comes uninvited and no one is ever prepared for it. Be it at infancy, adolescence, adulthood or old age, the exit of a loved one is usually considered painful.
The same can be said of the first family of Akwa Ibom State, Governor and Dr. (Mrs) Udom Emmanuel who lost their patriarch to death in December 2019 at the ripe age of 90.
The Late Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang is recorded to have been a renowned Mathematics teacher and exemplary Christian of the Qua Iboe Church faith.
Born on Monday, May 27, 1929, into a devoted Christian family of Awa Iman in Onna, Nkanang is said to have been offered instant employment as an auxiliary teacher after his Standard Six Examination.
Subsequently, he obtained the Royals Society of Arts certificate (Currently University of Ibadan) and gained admission to the institution but lost his father the same year.
By traditions of the home as the first-born son, Nkanang had to sacrifice the admission for his family as he assumed the role of a father.
He became a teacher who combined passion with zest in imparting knowledge to those desirous of learning.
It soon became known that teacher Nkanang was not just a mere teacher but one whose Teaching skill combined with his Teaching talent.
The Mathematics pro and then Headmaster is said to have always stopped by any class he was passing by to contribute his knowledge to a teacher he feels wasn’t using the right method to teach mathematics and, in the end, the seemingly difficult arithmetic would be reduced to a simple and easy-to-tackle summation.
His first daughter, Sylvia confirmed that “When my father teaches you mathematics, you cannot fail to like it”. Even the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Ekerete Udoh who was one of the deceased’s student, confirmed Teacher Nkanang’s simplified approach to mathematics and his love for his pupils. Udoh recounts that the Headmaster had the habit of asking his pupils to come to the school assembly every morning, prepared to share their knowledge of the subject at short notice. “It kept us on our toes and he even asked me to share once and though I almost pissed in my pants, I ended up doing a pretty good job,” Udoh says with a laugh. Such was the height of inculcation Mr. Nkanang was known for.
Beyond being a classroom instructor, the Late Elder Gabriel Nkanang made his house a remand home to a number of stray children whom he prayerfully transformed through moral instruction and counsellorship. His first son, Gabriel recounts that they used to have a lot of people living with them while growing up. “It was more like a correctional centre. At a point we used to have about eight additional children in our house”.
Anietie Ukpe writes that the man of many parts “was also a missionary who went about establishing churches and schools all over the country. Where it became imperative, he would sponsor and support the missions he had established. He had an obsession with bringing education to everyone. Confronted with a geographical barrier at Nkan Ide and Ikot Idem Udo communities where a stream separated the two communities, he single-handedly constructed a make-shift bridge so that children would not have any reason not to go to school”.
Attesting to this, Governor Udom Emmanuel recalls that the deceased aided the propagation of the gospel in Kogi, Nassarawa and Niger states, then known as the Ighala Conference of Qua Iboe Church and was a lover of his family as well as a disciplinarian.
The Governor attributed the accomplishments of the progenies of the Nkanang family to his father’s moral values, character and discipline, proclaiming that he is proud to have been a son to the deceased. “I feel proud to have been a son of this kind of man; through his discipline, forthrightness and the grace of God, we are where we are today”.
He expressed gratitude to God for making his late father live up to 90 and noted that the Patriarch had been honoured by God in return of his service to Him.
Although gone, the legacies of the Golden Goose which laid the Golden Egg remains in leaps and bounds. This especially is seen of his son, Governor Emmanuel who has brought to bare, discipline, contentment, humility, humanity, consideration, hardwork and optimism in his governance of Akwa Ibom State.
Now we know better the reason behind that gentle disposition in the Governor’s personality.
We can only pray that God gives the bereaved family, acquaintances and mentees the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss, while hoping that such sterling legacies of the deceased are reborn and made to live.