Uka, Daniel Mba
Senior Catechist Daniel Mba Uka was born in Akanu, Ohafia, Abia State, Nigeria, to Nnaa Uka Uwaka, his father, and Orie Udo, his mother. Daniel married Nneoji (Otenkwa) Osu Ukpola, and they had seven children and many grandchildren.
Daniel was born at a period in the history of Ohafia when the early Christian missionaries from Scotland were making serious efforts to convert the people of Cross River, Arochukwu and Ohafia, to Christianity. He became an orphan at an early age and, with this lack of parental care, he started early in life to fend for himself, working on plantations and farms.
With the coming of church and school to Akanu, Ohafia, in 1911, Daniel’s paternal relative Nna Kalu Udo, compulsorily handed him over to the white missionary for his elementary education in 1915. Six years later, he went to Enugu to secure work with the railroad, returning home in 1926. He returned to school to complete his primary education and passed his exams in 1929.
He was converted in 1926 on his return to school. His calling to missionary service came in 1930 when he secured an appointment with the Aba church district of the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.) as a church teacher in Ofokobe. Six years later, he was selected for training as a catechist in Awka Training College for church workers. He was appointed catechist and posted to Bonny as the catechist in charge of the C.M.S. church there. He subsequently served a number of other church locations, never rejecting assignments to difficult stations. His missionary activities included teaching, preaching, and winning souls for Christ. He encouraged young people to pursue education and was quick to open schools along with churches as was the case in Iva Valley, Enugu. He mediated in community disputes and stopped the killing of twins and the abuse of widows.
He died at age 53 after protracted kidney and heart disease for which he received no medical care from the C.M.S. church authorities.
In his village life at Akanu -Ohafia, he was highly regarded as a just and upright man, a lover of peace and justice, a shining light; hence, he was given a posthumous award of “The Lightning that shows the way.” His village produced many ministers and churches elders as a result of the encouragement he gave them. All his children are dedicated Christians. One of them is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria and a Professor of Theology in the Federal University of Calabar, Nigeria.
Emele Mba Uka
Eye witness account of the life and work of D. M. Uka, by a nephew, a retired High School Principal, and an elder of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria.
Church records in Okpulumobo of Aba diocese.
This article, received in 2001, was researched 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).