On the 13th of September, 2012, while we were attending the annual conference of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA) at the University of Calabar, news came in that one of our( Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma and I) former teachers, Sonny Samson-akpan, died in Lesotho, South Africa, where he retired as a lecturer at the University. It was quite a shock because the venue of the conference was where he taught us, some thirty years ago.
It was therefore not a surprise when the Executive Secretary of NICO, Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma, directed his Special Assistant, Ebi Nelson Campbell, to ask me to represent him at the burial of the fallen playwright, dramatist, theatre practitioner and teacher.
All through the flight from Lagos to Uyo, and the drive on the beautifully tarred road from Uyo to Afia Nsit, I tried to flash back, taking my mind back in years, to Unical. All I saw in my mind’s eye was the smiling face of the late Sonny Samson-akpan, the one who taught us the course, ‘theatre in education’. I recalled we used to call him ‘smiling face’ at theatre arts department in Unical because he sustained perpetual smile. Sonny was a good lecturer and a kind man. When, as students, we discussed lecturers who gave us jitters, his name was never mentioned. Who would fault this amiable man? Who would forget the chubby looking buddy who quietly drove in and out of the ‘garden theatre’ in his kombi bus?
The ceremony at Afia Nsit was quiet, peaceful, well organised and well attended by mostly by Sonny’s former students, including myself and Dr. Ubong S. Nda, the head of theatre arts department, University of Uyo, people from the academia, friends and family.
To his wife and children, we say, ‘our thoughts and prayers go out to you as you try to bear this irreparable loss. May he rest in perfect repose.’
Law Ikay Ezeh Jr.