“We make a living by what we get, and we make a life by what we give,” – Winston Churchill
Family, friends and associates of Kenneth Alaekwe, who died recently, gathered in Berlin on Saturday to bid him farewell.
The late president of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) Germany passed away on 17 February at the age of 55 in a Berlin hospital after a brief but serious illness.
On 17 March, the Roman-Catholic church venue of the service was filled almost to the brim with sympathisers of various nationalities who came from all over Germany.
Among those who joined Kenneth’s widow Ulla and son Henry at the memorial service, which took place at St. Norbert in Berlin-Schöneberg, were Nigeria’s ambassador to Germany, HE Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, his deputy, Ambassador (Mrs) Mobolaji Sakirat Ogundero, and other principal officials of the embassy.
Members of NIDO Germany, led by its acting president, Dr (Mrs) RosaLyn Dressmann, and friends and professional colleagues of the deceased turned out in impressive numbers to pay their last respect to the deceased.
The solemn service, which was conducted in German and led by the parish pastor, Dr Josef Wieneke, featured prayers for the repose of Kenneth Alaekwe’s soul, songs, sermons and eulogies.
In the first eulogy, the parish vicar, Father Izidor Pecovnik, praised Kenneth for being “a pious man and at the same time so fun-loving”.
The reverend father, who was a personal friend of the late president of NIDO Germany, recounted his active participation in the activities of the church, where the deceased worshiped for nearly twenty years.
“He was always there when we needed him and he sang so enthusiastically in the choir,” he recalled.
Father Pecovnik praised Kenneth for his achievement having had to start afresh when he arrived in the country in his mid-twenties.
“Ken quickly gained a foothold in his profession in Germany and with wisdom and sheer industriousness he worked his way up the corporate ladder. He was highly respected by his colleagues,” he noted
“Ken built a life and a family here.”
The clergyman also praised Kenneth Alaekwe for not forgetting where he came from despite his professional success in German society.
He noted that until his untimely death, he was an active member of the Nigerian community.
“Ken died trusting in God. We bid him farewell trusting in God,” the Catholic priest ended the emotion-laden speech.
“We make a living by what we get, and we make a life by what we give,” Dr Dressman commenced the second eulogy, quoting Winston Churchill.
She said Kenneth “worked with passion, integrity and energy” for NIDO Germany, describing him as “a genuinely warm and wonderful person we will miss greatly.”
Dressman added: “Our sorrow is lessened only slightly by the comforting thought that we had the privilege to know him.”
She ended her moving speech saying: “On behalf of NIDO Germany, I RosaLyn Dressman convey our most gratitude and sympathy to his survivor, Ulla Rose and Henry Chudy. Our hearts and prayers are with you at this most difficult time.”
Kenneth Alaekwe was born on 23 May 1962 in Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria, where he attended primary and secondary schools.
He studied at the Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI (USA), where he bagged a BA in History/Political Science. He later earned a Masters degree in International Relations/International Business at Webster University (USA).
At the time of his death, Kenneth was Director for Conference Production at Marcus Evans (Germany) Ltd, an international business conferencing group. He joined the company in 1999 and rose through its ranks.
He was also an Associate Publisher of The African Courier.
Kenneth Alaekwe, who is also survived by his mother and siblings, was buried in closed family circles on 10 March in Heek-Westfalen, the hometown of his widow.