FEATURES: Grieving widow turns late husband’s Facebook page into moving memorial

You will likely end up in tears if you go through late Professor Idorenyin Akpan’s page on Facebook.

Since the 47-year old professor of communications at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, Adamawa State, passed on in November 2014, his wife, Emilienne, has turned his Facebook page into a memorial, posting several emotive poems she wrote in honour of her late husband.

Mrs. Emilienne has so far posted about 24 poems on Facebook, dedicated to her late husband, besides several beautiful quotes she posted on the page.

When Jacob Jacob, an associate professor of communications at AUN wrote of Late Prof. Akpan on Facebook, “Nurse-logs never die”, Emilienne, who is also a lecturer at AUN, was right there to complete the line, “They live on in the gills and caps of mushrooms, in the fronds of ferns and in the roots and branches of trees that they nursed”.

Mr. Jacob had, during Mr. Akpan’s burial, used those beautiful words in a tribute to Mr. Akpan who was his teacher, colleague and friend.

‘Nurse-logs never die!’

Such profound words! A fitting summary of the life of Mr. Akpan, a simple man from a village called Obotme in Akwa Ibom State, who through his teaching profession and his Christian faith, led many young Nigerians to self-discovery and fulfillment!

Mr. Akpan, unknown to some people, was a revered pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

Emilienne’s poems are mostly quatrain and lyrical. They are mournful. Through them, Emilienne mourns her husband.

Late Prof Idorenyin AkpanThe poems, all of them put together, could best be described as one long conversation between two persons separated by death, but glued together by the indestructible bond of love.

Emilienne used the power of poetry to tell how lonely and how sad life could be for her and their two young daughters, since the death of Mr. Akpan.

In her poem titled ‘Office’, Emilienne wrote “I’m here to take away your things/ And clear the office space/ One of the hardest things for me/ To do, it must be said.

“Your books, your notes, your very self/ Permeate just everywhere/ It is as if you are right here/ With me to bid farewell.”

In another of her poem titled ‘Home’, she continued her sorrowful conversation with her late husband: “You should be here to keep a smile/ on faces since forlorn/ to close the wounds in broken hearts/ and still the raging storms.”

The poem is posted alongside a photograph of Mr. Akpan, wearing a beautiful Ibibio traditional attire and holding a walking stick, with his face looking upward into the sky as though he were in some communication with some heavenly beings.

Like in all the poems she posted on Facebook, you could easily feel Emilienne’s pain here.

You could imagine her sitting so lonely somewhere, maybe in a corner of her home in Yola, crying for her late husband.

Mrs. Emilienne tells how “Someday the phone won’t ring again/ there’ll be no one at the door to/ see if everything’s okay/ lend a hand or share a thought.”

Emilienne talks about almost everything, from the haunting memorial mugs that bore the face of her late husband, to how Ella, their daughter, talked a lot one morning about her late father, and how the morning wakes her (Emilienne) early “and (the) night unfolds and takes its course/ people do what they believe in/ steadily the world goes on.”

Emilienne’s poems portray her deep faith in God, which is where she says she draws her strength from.

She won’t let Easter and St. Valentine’s Day pass by, let alone their wedding anniversary or her husband’s birthday, without dropping a poem in honour of the man she described as ‘the very air I breathe’.

“15 years ago today, we said ‘I do’ and embarked on an amazing journey that we never knew would be ended so soon,” Emilienne wrote on Facebook, December 5, 2014, apparently their wedding anniversary day.

One year after, on December 5, 2015, she was right there on the page to do it once again.

“16 years ago today, we joyfully proclaimed ‘I do’.

“You will never be forgotten and you will always be remembered with gratitude, pride and love. Rest my darling, in Elohim’s bosom, in peace,” she wrote on Akpan’s Facebook page.

On Monday, December 21, she was in far away Malibu, California, United States. While there, she still remembered the significant of that date which, of course, was Idorenyin Akpan’s birthday. Straight to his Facebook page, she went. And as usual, she dropped one fresh poem for him.

“The cold air from the Pacific blows against my face but I live your warm reassurance that everything is going to be alright/
“Up in the sky, the sun stretches out in amazing rays of red and orange; and I smile/ Remembering how beautiful you left every space you were a part of and how passionately you gave of yourself to every experience/

“I hurt deeply from missing you but I will remain blessed for knowing you, beloved son of the most faithful and loving God/ Happy birthday with the King.”

To underscore how much she treasures her late husband page on Facebook, Emilienne regularly check through it and fences off people from posting dirty stuffs.

“I write on his wall all the time and post pictures as well. I would really appreciate it if no negative comments are posted on this wall,” she warned other Facebook users. “He was a peaceful, happy and loving man and his many pictures will depict just that.”

Emilienne gave the warning when some Facebook users became alarmed on noticing that Mr. Akpan’s profile photo on the social networking site had changed; they had expressed their fears and misgivings through their postings on the page, for they weren’t aware that Emilienne had her late husband’s password.

“I had no idea that something so simple and natural in a true relationship could be perceived as unusual,” she told PREMIUM TIMES of her opinion about Nigerian women having unlimited access to their husband’s Facebook account.

Emilienne and Akpan met while she was working on a Post Graduate Diploma dissertation at the University of Uyo. Mr. Akpan was a lecturer in the Communication Arts department of that university.

“My topic had to do with Semiotics and he was the expert in the field. I was directed to him to get materials,” Emilienne told PREMIUM TIMES.

“Our passion for reading, fascination with advertising, interest in meaning-sharing, similar perceptions about life and desire to personally know God better kept us close.

“Prior to when I needed resources, I did not even know his name even as we occasionally bumped into each other at the Department of Communication Arts.”

PREMIUM TIMES asked Emilienne if she is considering remarrying in future.

She said with the amazing life she had with Idorenyin Akpan, marriage wasn’t something you do on a whim or for the wrong reasons, and that it also mattered greatly how her children feel about the idea.

“With God as our anchor, comfort and guide, we are presently concentrating on learning how to understand life without him, positively adapt to changes, and still achieve what we believed in as a family,” she said.

Emilienne holds a first degree in Bilingual Letters and post graduate degrees in Mass Communication.

She said she has been writing creatively for many years although she didn’t study creative writing.

She believes that her late husband reads her poems.

When PREMIUM TIMES reminded her of suggestions she should publish an anthology someday, she said, “I write because it is an integral part of my life.Idorenyin Akpan's widow and their two daughters

“The question has been asked a few times, and I sincerely thank all those who appreciate the work, but until I make a decision on that, I just keep writing as led.”

And as it is, Emilienne may never stop writing, for as long as she continues to miss her darling husband, for as long as she continues to see him in “the flowers that bloom/ The soil that births new life/ The mid-day sun that shines at noon/ The moon that smiles at night.”

But she and her daughters aren’t the only ones that will continue to feel the pains of Mr. Akpan’s exit. Many of Mr. Akpan’s former students, colleagues, friends, and even those who knew him but never met him still find it difficult to forget him, simply because he was deeply intelligent and witty man, always at home with people.

Kufre Okon, the Chief Press Secretary to Akwa Ibom Speaker, Onofiok Luke, wrote of late Prof. Akpan: “He remains forever in my heart. My struggle to not remember it all often fails.

“I was somewhere around his former office at the University of Uyo the other day, and his smiles and jokes were all I saw and heard. A great teacher and pal. He will never just go away, never!

“RIP, Boss!”


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