(Chief) (Dr.) Chika A. Onyeani, Sr.: NA GBAJI EGBE I OF OHAFIA, the international diplomat, pacesetting journalist and distinguished author passed away peacefully at St. Barnabas Hospital on December 6, 2016, at the age of 73 from a brief illness. Once described as a “Man for All Seasons”, he was world renowned as a pioneer and pathfinder, beacon and trailblazer, commander and mighty warrior and had achieved singularity and honor as one of Africa’s foremost statesman.
An Ohafian, he comes from the group of Igbos that is the most feared throughout Nigeria; this fierceness gave him a passion and zeal for life and empowered him to dispense some uncomfortable truths in his literary publications. Dr. Onyeani’s book, Capitalist Nigger, contains a message that still resonates today and became a worldwide bestseller and the bestselling book in South Africa for almost a decade.
“The blame game has become a permanent part of our lives to the exclusion of any other solution that could be more viable in solving our problems. It has become the most productive part of our lives, because without it the African cannot really point to much that they are in charge of producing. It is better to blame others than to confront the truth of our being responsible for whatever has happened to us an African race.”, he wrote in the introduction to “Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success” (2000), his landmark publication that opened a debate on the state of the African race.
(Chief) (Dr.) Chika A. Onyeani, Sr. was born on November 14, 1943 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and was the second born of thirteen brothers and sisters.
At the age of six, Chika was sent back home to his village of Okagwe to live with his grandmother Princess Ada Ubolo and found himself as a student with no books, uniforms or proper footwear for his first 4 years of schooling. Monies being sent home by his parents were being improperly used and the young student soon came to be known by his classmates as “Obiara umu wo biarra” which roughly translates into ‘He that came because others came’; Chika would show up to school with the other students but never had any books with him. Although he would borrow books from his classmates when he could, it wasn’t until 4 years later that his father arrived to rectify the situation and purchase the books, uniforms and shoes Chika needed to be a student. His strong spirit and intelligence were always present and both traits guided him from early on in his academic career, right through to high school where he regularly finished as the number one or two student in his class each year.
Upon finishing high school, Chika then went to work for a company that dug wells in Nigeria so water could flow to the many villages and towns found throughout the country. While working for this company, since many people depended on him he would portion out his wages to his village and his family and use whatever remained to put himself through commercial school. Two Uncles took an interest in his drive, work ethic and ambition and the first, Chief Amadi took Chika out to Lagos, Nigeria to live with him; the second, Chief Nwandu began to groom him for bigger things as there was an opening with the Nigerian Foreign Service and he believed Chika would excel in the position. Once Chief Nwandu offered the job to Chika, he readily accepted the position and was sent to Dublin, Ireland; thus beginning his experience in the Nigerian Foreign Service.
While posted in Ireland, Chika began a meteoric rise through the Foreign Service ranks. While serving abroad in the Nigerian Foreign Service, the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War broke out in July of 1967. Chika received a call from the Biafran Leader, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, to join him. He then immediately resigned his commission in the Nigerian Foreign Service, and went to Biafra to serve in the new government. He was quickly given Biafran diplomatic status and was tapped to represent Biafra in the U.S. as part of the Biafran diplomatic core. When the war ended in 1970, Chika was without a country to go home to but he persevered and was able to acquire employment with the NY Life Insurance Company where he eventually became the number one sales person in division.
In the early seventies, Chika next went to work for the pharmaceutical giant DuPont/Endo Pharmaceuticals. Being that there were no other African reps in his division, the company was definitely taking a chance on hiring this Igbo man. The manager who hired him, however, was British. He not only knew about Africa and Nigeria, but more specifically, he knew about the Igbo people. He asked Chika just one question at the interview, and that question was, “are you an Igbo from Nigeria”? Chika answered, “yes” and he went on to become the number one rep in many of the company’s sales contests over the years. His diplomatic skills never diminished, and he parlayed those skills into establishing, and creating the number one black newspaper in the U.S.; the African Sun Times, formally the The African Enquirer. The recognition of his talents created an international figure as he was called upon by the African Union and elected Inaugural Chairman of the African Union Diaspora Task Team to illuminate, represent and defend their mission throughout the African Continent and the African Diaspora.
During his tenure in NYC, Chika met and married the former Loretta Hand of Hackensack, NJ and from this union, two sons were produced, Chika Abba Onyeani II and Abba Abba Onyeani. He is survived by his brothers and sisters, Mr. Onyeani Abba Onyeani, (Chief) Ukpai Abba Onyeani, Mr. Ikechukwu Abba Onyeani, Mr. Ukpai Peter Abba Onyeani, Mr. Agwu Abba Onyeani, and, Deaconess Oluwe Patience Kalu, Pastor Ifeanyichukwu Abba Onyeani, Mrs. Nnenma Onuoha Onyeani, Mrs. Love Abba Onyeani. He has gone on to join the Late Mr. Ndem Abba Onyeani, and the Late Abba Abba Onyeani. He is also survived by his sister-in law; Mrs. Ngozi Ukpai Onyeani, his daughters-in-law; Mrs. Marie Chika Onyeani, and Mrs. Evelyn Abba Onyeani, Esq., and his grandchildren, Ada Onyeani, Adachi Onyeani, Chinonye Onyeani, Abba Onyeani Jr. and Orie Onyeani.
Chika Onyeani was a journalist of international acclaim, distinction and recognition. A former diplomat, Onyeani was the publisher and editor-in-chief of the cutting-edge, powerfully-anointed, African Sun Times, the largest and only weekly African newspaper distributed nation-wide in America. Dr. Onyeani received numerous awards for journalistic excellence, including one from The New York Times Institute for Journalists. A sought-after speaker, Dr. Onyeani has been quoted, interviewed by, and written up in practically every major medium. He has received over 75 awards from the U.S. and the International Community. His illustrious career earned him the title of Dr. has he was known as in recognition of and acclimation of his distinguished and exemplary career as an author, writer, publisher and consultant in international affairs and was the alumnus of several institutions of higher learning, both in England and the United States including Pitmans College of London, Fordham University and the Baruch Graduate Division of CUNY.