By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Being the second of a three part series by the son of the late journalist, Ernest Etim Bassey as part of events leading to the 20th anniversary celebration of his father.
There are two sides to this argument and both have a certain merit. But, then, I have the courage and the judgment to say that my fathers commitment and sacrifice for Efiks was not wasted.
Of course I know there will be a few leaders of opinion out there ready to argue with me, but, then, he sacrificed everything for what he believed in, and you cant grudge him for that.
But then again sacrifice is a little hard to describe if you aren’t faced with that choice.
The main point that I need to get across here is that you are going to have to abandon your creature comfort to understand what sacrifices my father made. Cause over family. Calling over self. It is needless to continue. So what is the point?
A single later written by the late Akanu Ibiam in the 1960’s passionately urging my father to remain and work for the South Eastern states because they needed people with his keen sense of service and intellectual ability rather then accept an academic offer in Canada; Serendipitously, that dammed letter not only defined his, it irrevocably shaped mine in totality.
When I was faced with the same choice in 1998, Canada or Calabar, I opted to go to Canada even though I knew inherently that my destiny was irreversibly tied to the state, and not by choice.
In his memoirs, and in his often emotional correspondences to me, he often talked about my eventually returning to serve the people in some capacity without even seeking an input from me.
At that point in time, he failed to understand that the values necessary to defend the society are often at odds with the values of the society itself, naively, he had a certain assumption about service to Cross River; he believed that if he stood for the right thing, people would give it a consideration.
My Father’s Legacy
It is a great emotional burden to write my fathers sociopolitical tribute as we approach the 20th year of his passing, because such adjudication work often limits itself to affirming mainly the positive.
Intuitively though, I must, because if I don’t no one else will? Considering that every tribute is in one sense an argument, an intersection of fact, perception and memory. Who would be more qualified to write about my late father than me?
My father kept a day-to-day diary, sometimes frustratingly vague on detail but nevertheless an accurate chronology of everything he did.
One thing that strikes me quite forcefully when reading these pages is that the long years of writing, adjudicating, advocating and attending meetings in the Obong’s council that preoccupied so much of his later life never appeared a grind, only a fulfillment of his mission in life.
And then one of his strengths that became apparent early was his ability to keep politics outside his other pursuits. He knew that politicians came and went, therefore, while he did not hesitate cultivating his network of friends, both in and out of the state, he always took pains not to proselytize, preferring instead to teach by example although a practicing Buddhist and later Guru Maharaji follower for many years; he was tolerant of other religions in truth.
Personally, he never tried to instill his religious beliefs in his children, and was not offended when I often spoke to him about Christ in the period I spent with him after my mothers burial in May 1998.
But then unwelcome reminders of darker continuities are closely associated with him, however when you consider his circumstances that I don’t claim to have a full knowledge off, we must be very careful to judge him on ideological convictions displayed in the “political or survival arena,” so we don’t overlook a history of the good works he did and the sacrifices he made.
At least give him credit for ushering in a new sense of social accountability in Cross-River state, which we now dearly need.
William Etim-Bassey, an expert in contemporary warfare and Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ben Ayade on security matters, writes from Calabar, the Cross River State capital