Friends and colleagues were full of praise for Prof Tony Afejuku, who pulled out of the services of the University of Benin after attaining the age of 70.
Afejuku, a Professor of English and Literature, taught at the university for 43 years.
A retirement reception, put together by the Friends of Afejuku, to celebrate the literary icon who for over two decades tended literary minds in the university.
Speaking at a reception held at the UNIBEN Banquet Hall, the chairman of the occasion, Professor Mon Nwadiani, described Afejuku as someone who left behind a legacy of truth and boldness.
Nwadiani noted that it was the first time such a ceremony was being held for a retired teacher in the department and faculty, a testimony, he acknowledged, stood the celebrant out amongst others who retired before him.
Nwadiani therefore advised those still in service to emulate the qualities of Afejuku “who is seen as a friend to all and an enemy to none.”
Professor Felix Ogonna described him as “a detribalised Nigerian who does not care where you come from but your ability to do what is right.”
Narrating how Professor Afejuku helped him over the years, he said, “I have been in the faculty for about 25 years and I have never seen the kind of person like him. He is one who acknowledges excellence but also wants you to do the same. He has a philosophy, ‘No paddy for jungle’, because even as he can be your friend, he will at the same time want you to do what is right at all times without taking sides.”
Others who spoke in glowing terms of the celebrant are Suyi Ayodele of the Nigerian Tribune, Dr Abigail Eruaga of the Department of English and Literature of UNIBEN, and Professor Kola Eke, who described Afejuku in a poem read by Dr Edafe Mukoro, as an intellectual ‘iroko’, a man of many parts, “a radar detector of linguistic infelicities, and a chopper that goes round rudiments of language”.
In his response, the retired professor thanked God for his life from the very beginning to the present. He also gave kudos to his parents of blessed memory, his wife and his children for being there for him, especially at critical moments.
He also thanked his friends, especially those he influenced, who decided to converge and honour him, adding, “When people say I am detribalised, it is because I have travelled and many of those who helped me in life incidentally are not from my Itsekiri ethnic nationality.”