Ochu Mbila was born in 1908 in Ndi Uduma Awoke, Ohafia, Abia State, Nigeria. His father, Ochu Mbila, and mother, Mmaagu Acha were of the Ibo tribe. He married Oyidiya Mbila with whom he had nine children and 17 grandchildren.
Ochu did not receive any education until the missionaries came to Ohafia and established schools. He was converted in 1926. In 1930, he passed the government Standard Six examination at age 22 in Akanu Ohafia C.M.S. School. He then began teaching at the Presbyterian Mission in 1930. He was trained as a teacher at the Hope Waddell Training Institute in Calabar from 1939 to 1942. However, in 1948 he began studying for the ministry at Awka Theological College and was ordained four years later.
Ochu served in several Presbyterian churches in Nigeria, namely Ihechiowa, Ikom, Abiriba, Aba, Ohafia, Enugu, and Umuahia. He was a man of immense stamina who worked tirelessly. He wrote articles and booklets, conducted seminars, retreats, and revivals for the renewal of local churches. He was a man of strong faith, totally committed to Jesus Christ, who lived a modest lifestyle and had few material possessions. He was also a gifted preacher and advocated the indigenization of Christianity in Nigeria. He introduced the use of African musical instruments during worship in the Presbyterian Church.
Ochu was an acknowledged ecumenical figure. He represented the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria as a member of the Christian Council of Nigeria (C.C.N.) and as a member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (C.A.N.). He was a strong advocate of church union in Nigeria and had contacts with numerous overseas organizations. He was a gifted church leader, having been Moderator of Oro-Ohafia Presbytery in 1974 and Moderator of Synod from 1974 to 1977.
Emele Mba Uka
Interviews with his son. Research done by Elder Uka Emele, a retired high school teacher. Dr. Uka also made use of church records in the Presbyterian Church Archives in the General Assembly Office in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria.
This article, received in 2001, was researched by Elder Uka Emele and written by Rev. Dr. Emele Mba Uka, a Project Luke Fellow, Professor of Theology in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at the Federal University of Calabar, Nigeria (UNICAL).