The true life story began from when he was seven. Having been born
into a barely comfortable polygamous family, being of the Ehugbo stock
that practices a matrilineal system of inheritance, and of course, as
is typical of an ambitious Igbo boy, he was happy to leave home for
Southern Cameroun with his maternal uncle in search for greener
pasture. This search would finally see him dwelling in various
settings and across many seas away from home to achieve his goals.

The story spoke of three major prophecies that came to pass and helped
shape the boy’s life. It spoke of Africa, it spoke of Europe; it spoke
of various languages, cultures, religions, politics and isms. It told
of reincarnation and metaphysics; and recounted the history of the
boy’s people; of the abuses suffered by him both while under his
uncle’s care at Cameroun, at school, and in his conscription as a
barely armed, barely trained child soldier fighting in the frontlines
of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. It spoke of the remote and immediate
causes of that war and its long term consequences on the people. It
also gave exciting accounts of the experience: the fight, the escapes,
and an eventual surrender.

It spoke of many firsts and of successes; of an exceptionally gifted
child who loved education, inventions, sport; and who always came tops
in class all through to his doctorate award bagged in 1987. A boy
saved from more perilous war circumstances to become orderly to a
General, the second-in-command of a rebel group. A boy now a
grandfather, who came small in size, but activist in nature to achieve
greatness for himself and family name; and to establish precedents
that encourage others. A boy fated to be lucky; winning lotteries and
opportunities, gaining support and mentoring every step of the way to
see him through life itself and its many hurdles.

The book came with fantasy and romance; detailing the childish romance
with Rose Mukete in Cameroun; the meeting and falling in love with
Grace Jombo who turned out to become a strong pillar of support to him
in Warri. This later love story is particularly touching as it tells
of a young man’s evergreen experiences with a Grace who suddenly was
no longer reachable and whose unknown whereabouts till date leaves a
gap in his mind, that only she can fill. The story went forward to
show the inter-racial meeting, falling in love and marriage in
Bulgaria to Vanya Dimitrova that helped stabilize the young man’s
focus, and of the family they built together.

The story further itemized the man’s work career in the academic world
and in the private sector, and how he rose up to become a community
leader on many fronts: tutorials, students and trade unions, in
traditional settings, local and tribal politics. The story also
brought to light the many rots in the ivory tower, and the spiritual
powers inherent in man.

Not only was I totally engrossed while I read the book “The General’s
Orderly … An Autobiography of a Biafran Soldier by Arua Okereke”, I
found myself out rightly seduced by the way the gifted writer played
with his words in the 436-page, 17-chapter book published by LifeRich;
and how he finally wove them all together with tasty spices of poetry
and adventure to achieve an authoritative masterpiece. Indeed, as a
creative builder, engineering expert and professor of construction
technology, Arua ‘Patrick’ Okereke must have brought in his keen eye
for art and specific details to birth a beautiful book that is not
just worth reading but captivating to the very last page.

(Emelda Ochuba, is freelance writer,
philosopher, activist and social commentator. She writes from Enugu,

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