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The Man Called Fr. Itaman by Christian Ifeanyi Okonkwo


This book titled ‘The Chronicle: The Man Called Fr. Itaman’ written by Christian Okonkwo, is a plausible and captivating account in an attempt to describe the personality of Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Theophilus Idebaneria Itaman, putting into perspective the different phases of his life and what each phase has contributed in making him what he is today. The book, as the author puts it, is a chronicle (a story) of this great man, a priest of the Most High God, who  is the current principal of Lumen Christi International High School, Uromi, and Director of Education, Uromi Diocese and Benin Province. The author calls Fr. Itaman his hero; he sees him as a dynamic and complex being but who can be studied and followed, a dedicated friend who is compassionate and truthful and a man with a vision and foresight. Little wonder then, that he has achieved a lot and his name rings a bell in the Benin Province and beyond.

On my part, I have known and interacted with Fr. Itaman for over two decades; I  can attest to the qualities and description of Fr. Itaman as x-rayed by the author. In this book, his life so far, is viewed in three parts, namely, childhood, youth and adulthood. The 11th child and 6th son of his parents, Fr. Itaman lived his childhood and early youth days in the village even though he yearned  to go to  the city to pursue his education. While in the village, he assisted his  father  (a headmaster and father of twelve children) in  his farm work  and his mother,  in her tailoring business; this was in addition to doing household chores like sweeping, washing dishes and cooking. He was not lazy, and did not constitute any nuisance, a quality all youth should emulate. Though a very handsome man, he did not allow himself to be distracted from his focus on planning his future.  He  was also very active in church and was devoted to attending morning mass daily, where he met Very Rev. Fr. Etafo, his then parish priest who later became his teacher and rector at the seminary. According to the author, it is not easy to say which category of greatness  perfectly describes Fr. Itaman (whether he was  born great, achieved greatness or had greatness thrust upon him, according to William Shakespeare). He seems to have a combination of all three.

His father already prophesied that the young Theophilus was going to be great after noticing in him some exceptional qualities and tendencies towards greatness. In addition, Fr. Itaman decreed that he would be a great man when he was sacked from a petty job he engaged in after leaving secondary school. He was uncomfortable with the job because it demanded, as part of his duty, to tell lies to clients; when he was found wanting in this regard, he was mockingly asked to pick up his sack letter from a dust bin. On that day, he vowed not to ever ‘eat from the dust bin’. He affirmed that he would be great. The third confirmation came from God through a stigmatist, who said the young promising Theophilus was going to be a priest and would be great. From that day, he was popularly referred to as Fr. Itaman by his peers. He did not need any more revelation, for the Holy Trinity had spoken; even his late father had earlier told him to go for the priesthood. Fr Itaman was guided by his trust in God and steadfastness in prayer. After becoming a priest, he experienced challenges at one point or the other but he was not subdued. It is also recorded how God saved Fr. Itaman from spriritual and physical attacks; God was on his side and fought for him to the bewilderment of evil men.

The author presents people’s perception of who Fr. Itaman is; his family members, friends, close associates and classmates, all affirm that Fr. Itaman is respectful, diligent, honest, hardworking, kind-hearted and God-fearing, with unparalled prayerlife and unwaivering faith. Fr. Itaman learnt how to care for the sick from his father; he became the ‘students’ doctor’ in the seminary.

The author has been a distant and close admirer of Fr Itaman and has tagged him as his role model. He refers to Fr. Itaman’s  unique principles, excellent leadership, entrepreneurship, and general attitude to life as ‘Itamanism’. He is unable to find adequate words to qualify his hero and resorts to doing this in his native Igbo language, ascribing to Fr. Itaman, numerous titles referring to him as a good man, a kind man, a strategist, anointed one, a great man, an achiever, a philanthropist, the rain that falls on all, a true son of his father, etc. The book reports the indelible marks in all the places Fr. Itaman has worked because of his belief:‘ never leave a place the way you met it; improve it’. Fr. Itaman has raised the standard of Lumen Christi International High School to an enviable height through infrastructural development and investment, leading to  conferment of  numerous awards from various bodies. He too, is an award-winning principal.

 In view of  the rich content of this book, there is no gainsaying the fact that it is an all encompassing companion for everyone (priests, leaders, youth, parents, entrepreneurs, school owners and students, among others). It is recommended for all school and home libraries and as a reference book for all who want to succeed in life.

Author: Christian Ifeanyi Okonkwo

Year Published: 2023

This book is not available in e-Book.

Contact Fr. Theo for the Hardcopy

Fada Ti Publisher

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