Interview: The Lord has been my guide – Archbishop Henry Ndukuba

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Henry Ndukuba

𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝑹𝒆𝒗’𝒅 𝑯𝒆𝒏𝒓𝒚 𝑪𝒉𝒖𝒌𝒘𝒖𝒅𝒖𝒎 𝑵𝒅𝒖𝒌𝒖𝒃𝒂 is the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. In this interview with Sir Folu Olamiti (Chairman, ACNN Board of Management), Mrs Ngozi Adighibe (Communication Officer, CON-Anglican Communion) and Mr. Korede Akintunde (General Manager ACNN), Archbishop Ndukuba reveals the meaning of his name, circumstances surrounding his birth and his growing up experiences.

𝐐: 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗳𝘂𝗹𝗹 𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝗯𝗲𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀’ 𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲?

𝗔: My name is 𝑯𝒆𝒏𝒓𝒚 𝑪𝒉𝒖𝒌𝒘𝒖𝒅𝒖𝒎 𝑵𝒅𝒖𝒌𝒖𝒃𝒂.

From my life’s story, my parents made me understand that I came as the answer to a special prayer made to God, after some time of anxiety. After my elder sister was born, it took four years to conceive me. By that time, my father was an agent, as they were called in those days – a catechist, an agent, a church teacher, a headmaster of CMS Primary School in Isu Njaba. Incidentally, my parents lived in the church vestry; and that was where I was conceived.

The name 𝑪𝒉𝒖𝒌𝒘𝒖𝒅𝒖𝒎 means God is leading me, God is my leader, He is my guide. 𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗟𝗼𝗿𝗱 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗺𝘆 𝗴𝘂𝗶𝗱𝗲. What a name! I think my Dad called me 𝑯𝒆𝒏𝒓𝒚 because of King Henry of England and other historical figures who have distinguished themselves with that name.

𝐐: 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝗶𝗿𝘁𝗵, 𝗳𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘂𝗽 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘀?

𝗔: My dad was a teacher, just like my mum, who is still alive. She retired as a teacher. My dad worked with CMS, both as an agent, catechist and a headmaster. He was a teacher in the CMS School. My parents were strict disciplinarians. They did not tolerate any nonsense from us. When growing up, we dare not misbehave. Other children could play truancy and pranks, but my dad wouldn’t take it from us. He insisted that all of us should be at the prayer early in the morning and in the evening.

There is this family hymn in Igbo, that I will always remember:

𝘈𝘣𝘶 11:
“𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘬’𝘖𝘯𝘺’𝘖𝘬𝘪𝘬𝘦
𝘕𝘬𝘦 𝘶𝘸𝘢 𝘯’𝘦𝘭’𝘪𝘨𝘸𝘦,
𝘖𝘯𝘺𝘦 𝘬𝘦𝘳’𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘢𝘯𝘸𝘶,
𝘕𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘬𝘰𝘵𝘢𝘮.”

It means let the God who created the sun, moon and stars watch over us. We would always sing it wholeheartedly, trusting God to keep us, protect us, provide for us and be with us. We were also required to be in church and be in the choir; basically, do all the things that young people should do in church. If you were not at home, you should be in the church premises.

While in the secondary school and we went home during holidays, young children and teenagers loved staging ballroom dances and other things. They would walk along the roads with their hands in their pockets, trying to do ‘guy,’ as was the vogue then, but my dad wouldn’t allow us. Who are you? If you tried it, you had to face the music. We were trained in such a way that, regardless of whether you were a boy or a girl, you had to learn to do all chores, such as sweeping and washing. There was this hand machine my mum had (she was also a seamstress), and all of us had to learn how to use it to stitch our clothes. You never asked anybody to do it for you.

I remember an experience we had growing up. My dad got us to make mud with him. Whenever he asked you to do anything, he would also be there, so you wouldn’t think it was punishment. He would jump into the pit with us to make the mud, bring out the mud and build our fence; and stuff like that. Then, we thought it was punishment. We went to farm, fetched firewood and we did everything.

Even in senior secondary school, after one returned home, one still had to do those menial jobs. One had to do it, because our Dad had taught us. He always told us there is dignity in labour. You had to work with your hands and never be ashamed. We grew up with that mindset, and with that understanding of life. We were taught that life could be nasty sometimes, and you have to get down to get things done.

So, 𝘄𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗯𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝘂𝗽 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝗚𝗼𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸. It was not done to please any person. It was for your good and that of the whole family.