An ode to Uche Nnaji

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My memory can still replay details from childhood days and personal experiences with Uchechukwu Godswill Nnaji.
As an adolescent who grew up in an ‘all man for himself environment’, I still remember how him ‘UCHE Nnaji always been all about his passion and dreams. I daresay he was ‘consumed by his passion’ so much that nothing else mattered.He would set out as early as cock crowed to unknown locations, chasing seemingly trivial things. These trivialities have put him on the path to who he has become today.

Growing up in a family of seven children and surrounded by females, leaving the house earlier than expected and returning home late night wasn’t that difficult. Uche Nnaji successfully earned himself the title ‘Oje-mba’, a person who walks everywhere, from our late father, Mazi Shedrack Iheanacho Nnaji.

For over two decades, I still yearn for explanation on why my precious sleep was often disturbed for a brother I barely knew his daily activities. While grumbling, I often found myself reluctantly assisting my sister in making him something to eat whenever he came home late. Wearing that sorry look on his face and tiptoeing so he didn’t wake other family members. Looking at him with my eyes still heavy, I’d mutter, “which kind wahala be dis sef, una nor go let person enjoy sleep?” At this point, feeling so guilty, he’d try to calm our anger by pleading “abeg naa-abeg naa”. Despite all this, the boy never did his dishes.

Years went by, the stylish part of him became more vivacious. His stylish dress-to-impress nature earned him another nickname from our late father – Prince. He was the first male I ever saw getting a manicure and pedicure, applying powder on his face, and using nail polish.

Dad couldn’t bottle his feelings any more. This very day he dropped a classic punch-line, “Uchechukwu! you want to be a PRINCE when your father is not a KING…”

If only the old man saw the future.

In his undergraduate days, his passion for fashion took another turn. This made him the official style consultant for fellow undergraduates. This later brought him fame and recognition that transpired to various fashion nominations and awards. During his mandatory service year, he successfully combined fashion and style businesses.
Between 2005-2007, he decided to further his education. Applying for admission to study in the UK, but was denied visa for unexplainable reasons after several attempts. With the never give up attitude, he decided to invest that capital into his passion – sartorial services.

In June 2007, after disappointment and frustration, he went ahead and rented 12-square meter shop in Onigbongbo, Maryland, Lagos. This became the first and only outlet for the brand OUCH. That single shop later expanded in size and birthed more outlets for the brand.

Today, the rest is history.

I bet our late father will be smiling wherever he is now, knowing that his Oje-mba is not only the founder creative director of a world class fashion and lifestyle brand OUCH, but has also wined and dined with kings from various kingdoms.

I have many things to say about your dream, your story, and your achievements, but less is more. For the record, you will always be a source of hope to everyone burning with passion, yearning to have their dreams turn into visuals.

We celebrate you Uche Nnaji as you add another year to your fruitful life.

Happy birthday!


Chika Nnaji is 
a 
creator, editor, analyst, and a trained journalist.

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cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail