The Old Man Who Ran Away From His “Chi”

There is a town called Akpakume-Nze in Enugu state Nigeria. In this town, lived an old man who was sad about something, and wanted others to learn from his mistakes.

I have noticed that a higher percentage of very old people, have a much clearer understanding of life, because by the time you are approaching the end of your life, your ego is much destroyed, and then it becomes easier for you to objectively access your life. Also, old age removes the many fears that paralyze us from inaction when we were younger.   Unfortunately, by the time most people lose the fear that chains them down, they have also lost the vitality of youthful strength.

Anyway back to our story…

According to the old man, many decades ago when he was a boy, white men (Europeans) came to Akpakume-Nze to conscript young people into school. The white men explained the necessity of education, and why every young man should go to school.

Our man (who was a boy), and his brothers were totally scared of the white men and this education that they bring, and their parents also wanted them to stay back at home.

So, since they could not resist the white men physically, they took to their heels and ran into the bush.

…The old man stopped and looked very sad.

Papa, one young man asked, why do you looked so sad?

The old man shook his head,

’hmmm, my son, it’s a pity, I ran away from my “chi”. Yesterday is gone and will never return. I now regret my action everyday.” (In Igbo culture, your ‘chi’ is like your guardian angel that protects and directs you)

“But Papa, the younger man continued, why do you regret your action so deeply?”

So the old man continued.

“I have lived long enough, to see the devastating consequence of that my singular action, not only on myself but my entire generation”

He told of his friends who were of the same age bracket with him, who went to school those days, and the great difference between his family and their family now.

Many of those who were conscripted to school in those early days, went on to study at the university for free. Some were even sent abroad. When they finished education, many of them quickly began to fill the top positions in many areas of the young nation.

Not only that, now they knew the value of education, they didn’t allow their own children to stay at home or on the farm. They also sent their kids to school. And so, over time, a great gap developed between the families of those who their great grandparents went to school and those who absconded.


The decisions we take in life, do not only affect us, but also generations unborn. It reminds me of the butterfly effect, where theoretically, a small action in one part of the earth, can cause an earthquake on the other end of the earth.

Like I said, old age destroys the FEAR that holds you down, but by then, you no longer have the strength to do what you should have done today.

At the end, you only regret the actions you don’t take, and the opportunities you didn’t seize.

Are you running away from your “chi”?

Cheers and have a wonderful day

Engr Emma Okoro

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