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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

PROF POLITE: A symphony of politeness, calmness and humour

PROF POLITE: A symphony of politeness, calmness and humour

By Prof M. S. Ibrahim

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

Prof Polite Iwedike Onwuhafua, I still clearly remember my first close encounter with you in ABUTH, Kaduna. I still remember the way you requested me and my classmates, Damar Yusuf and Edward Ihejirika, to collect some data on the New Year’s babies of some health facilities in Kaduna.

What captivated us wasn’t just the task at hand, but your style of Prof Polite. “Bloody” medical students we were and a “team-commanding” consultant of O&G you were, yet your request of us was a genuine plea. No hidden threat or tactical shakedown or gentle condescension. This pushed us to work hard for you with joyful excitement. And we learned!

PROF POLITE, Prof Polite Iwedike Onwuhafua, Prof M. S. Ibrahim, Politeness, Calm Humour
Prof Polite is always comfortable around his medical students

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And when the work was done, forget cash transaction! Playfully, you handed us swimming trunks and tipped us to go out, swim, and relax. Though we did not end up visiting the pool at that time, your thoughtful gesture opened up our brains and all the undergraduate O&G stuff in this world became ingrained, along with your frequent reassuring words; “Abeg, nothing dey there.”

Then came the day in 1998 or so, when a relative of mine in congestive heart failure in the Male Medical Ward was erroneously jabbed with four ampoules of IV promethazine (yes, 200mg IV!) in place of four ampoules of frusemide. At once, anesthaesiologic intervention was needed and I ran to you in desperation, a young medical student in tears. But what did you do, oh wise Prof Polite? You promptly invited Madam’s anaesthesiologic expertise. You didn’t summon the gods of medical hierarchy or exhibit an air of seniority. No demands for a written consult but just a couple of medical consultants saving the relative of a “bloody” medical student in despair.

Ah, your lectures and ward rounds were not just medical guidance but also the GPS to the hidden pleasures of KD City! You urged us to explore the wonders beyond textbooks. And oh, the legendary Amala joint on Yoruba Road. You spoke of it like a food oracle, and when we finally indulged, it was like discovering the secret portal to flavour town. The taste? It was a gastronomic rollercoaster, a journey that left our taste buds doing a standing ovation for you! Prof Polite, thank you for making KD, for us, a city of both medical education and mouthwatering mysteries!

PROF POLITE, Prof Polite Iwedike Onwuhafua, Prof M. S. Ibrahim, Politeness, Calm Humour
Prof Polite Iwedike Onwuhafua

Ah, that Kaduna O&G posting, KD O&G! The place for learning adventures! Other than my matriculation day, the only occasion when I eagerly unearthed a borrowed camera and invested in a 36-exposure Kodak film was during the unforgettable KD O&G. Again, the only occasion when the group took a class picture was the KD O&G. And let’s not forget the one and only class picnic at the Gamji Gate where we jettisoned Pinard stethoscope for meat pies/egg rolls, and tape rules for frisbees. Even the shyest lady of the class (name withheld – LOL!) danced and danced and danced to Boney M’s Brown Girl in the Ring, Rivers of Babylon, Daddy Cool _ and _Hooray! Hooray! It’s a Holi-Holiday.

To relive the unforgettable KD O&G posting, we barbecued a huge ram and went full carnivore in Malumfashi. Muna godiya, sir!

Prof Polite, your natural playfulness, sprightliness, and joviality rivals any happy pill! And the best part? It’s all organic, no artificial sweeteners added. So, when in 2015 the curtain fell on your inaugural lecture, and you summoned the 2015 anthem of elation – Korede Bello’s Godwin – it wasn’t a shocker. Sure, some of us played the reserved card, resisting the urge to dance before our teachers and the Vice Chancellor. But, in our minds, we grooved and boogied as if tomorrow no dey.

Sir, your majestic presence was always a pleasure – whether it was the delight of your passing by or the distinct sound of your playful voice. Now, as you exit the grand stages of ABU and ABUTH, you leave behind a gap in the very essence of stressless and humble vibes. We’ll miss your calm persona which made the medical maze a little less chaotic and a lot more human!

Before I end this, let me quickly confess that to all our eyes, you’ve always looked more like Bros Polite than Pa Polite. Then, out of the blue, came the announcement of your retirement at seventy. Seventy years old man!🤔 Okay, now, I’m a stronger believer in what we say; laughter keeps you looking and feeling young!

Prof Polite, as you match into the realm of retirement, your days will be a playlist of relaxation and your nights a dance of peaceful dreams. Cos everything you did, na God win!


M.S. Ibrahim is a professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

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