Roll the drums people, because on this day, about 21,900 days ago, Aniekpeno Mkpanang was born.
So, raise a glass. Join me and celebrate a man whose 720 months on earth are worth a million light years in space. Celebrate with me, a man whose 3,120 weeks on Earth have been dedicated to excellent service.
I remember him from the late 90s, before the glitz and glamour, before his culture of excellence conferred immortality on his works, and by extension, him, I remember vividly.
I remember his velvet voice filtering through our four battery radio and filling up the entire living room on Sunday evening right after the signature music – Dynasty’s 1980 hit song Something to Remember played. This god-man would reel out facts after facts to information-hungry listeners, and at the end of each mind blowing fact, he would bellow “Good people- that is something to remember”!
I also remember the beginning of the end of those golden days. I was not there, but everyone in Akwa Ibom heard of that event. Parents, teachers and even pastors referenced it whenever they taught or sermonized about diligence and excellent service.
Mkpanang’s excellence on the microphone had attracted President Obasanjo’s attention and the then C-in-C hijacked our radio encyclopedia and relocated him to Aso rock. At the expiration of President Obasanjo’s tenure in office, the old soldier retired to his farm in Otta, and our own Mkpanang returned to Uyo, where even greater work was waiting for him. The microphone maestro was given the onerous task of managing Governor Akpabio’s Protocol team and coordinating events in Akwa Ibom State.
Mkpanang is known to have brought excellence, finesse, and class to government events in Akwa Ibom State. It didn’t matter how often events held, or the size of event, the drill was uniform – excellence or nothing! Government house staffers and his close aides recall working long hours and many sleepless nights at Mkpanang’s behest, just to ensure that a signature and uniform flawlessness was achieved at all government events in the state.
The result did not take long to be seen. Akwa Ibom State Government events gained a 7-star rating across various media platforms, and many attested to Mkpanang’s dexterity at event planning, organization and management.
In addition to regular state events, Mkpanang added extra garlands to his already richly decorated neck by initiating and seeing through a number of record breaking efforts, such as gathering the largest group of Christmas carol singers in the world, comprising 25,272 choristers on December 13, 2014 at the Uyo Township Stadium, to make an official attempt at the Guinness Book of World Records. Mkpanang is also famed to be the brain behind the award winning Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Fest, a yearly gospel festival of global repute.
Aniekpeno Mkpanang has not only done well for himself, but he has inspired a new generation of creatives in Akwa Ibom State and beyond. Some of his protégés are already making their marks in their respective fields of endeavour. Leading the pack is the award winning events compere, protocol guru and media icon – Raphael Edem, who regularly attributes his successes in life to the discipline, mentorship and example of Mr Mkpanang.
As the hands of the clock turn, and time, the inevitable calibrator of life’s moment ticks away, I cannot reflect on how well Mkpanang has attempted to utilize his chronological allocation on this side of eternity. I pause today, to reflect on how well this fine artist has used his gifts and talents to make indelible marks on the canvasses of our hearts. Hate him or love him, no one can deny the fact that anything Mkpanang’s hands have touched experienced imminent transformation.
As a mark of honour to a meteor and an exemplar, the three-year-old Straightnews has decided to do an exceptional thing- publishing two tributes by two different writers for an extra-ordinary man, Aniekpeno Mkpanang. This is something to remember. Gulp it again!
Exemplar Aniekpeno Mkpanang Is 60
The then longest running radio programme, Something to Remember, introduced this rare breed to us and made him exceedingly popular and irresistible to every household in and beyond Akwa Ibom State.
The host, Aniekpeno Tom Mkpanang, ATM for short, is the man I am dwelling on as he clocks 60 today, February 26, 2021.
With the sheer force of phenomenal creativity, the very educative, innovative and informative programme, which he delivered with the panache of a genius, etched him with the premium gold on the tablets of our hearts. As we surrendered to the charm of his wit, he enchanted us with his warm-heartedness. We could literally touch him in our radio sets. The ‘bewitchment was both super-ordinary and enrapturing.
Then we lost him, when then President Olusegun Obasanjo, enthralled by the penetrative audacity of his creative powers at its peak, enlisted him in the Presidential Court where he churned out more breathtaking wit to beguile international audiences, diplomats and Heads of state’s who visited with the President.
From thence, Governor Godswill Akpabio brought our prized asset back and thrust him into the System for his content and exceptional abilities. The result was the Christmas Carol Festival, which ‘sold Akwa Ibom to the World and compelled International attendance/attention, to the State every Yuletide.
For space or the lack of it, I do not want to drag an exegesis on that world class event, which in concept, organization and creative quotient made a regal entry into the Guinness Books of Record as the largest mass choir and Orchestra to perform a Christmas Carol in the World.
Up until date, that record is unchallenged.
In 2019, the last Christmas Carol that was held blew our minds as ATM transformed The prestigious Ibom Hall Grounds, Uyo to a Wonderland Arena to host the massive exhibition event. Again, I’d resist the distraction of a long explication on that assertion. But his Birthday brings something to remember for me.
It was April 9, 2019 that I was part of #AniekpenothanksGod, after his near death experience. Airborne on an ambulance in what appeared like a trip across the world, ATM was lagging in the throes of death, battling for life as a stranger that fiction ailment decimated his digestive system.
On that eventful date, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Akwa Ibom State, Mr Aniekpeno Tom Mkpanang,, who was rumoured to have died held a Thanksgiving Service at his private Chapel of Goodness and Mercy, located within his country home at Ukanafun, to celebrate God’s grace in keeping him alive.
Fathers of faith including Prelate Emeritus Dr Sunday Mbang, Archbishop Emmanuel Udofia, Primate of the African church, Bishop Gabriel Nkenang of Word Tarbenacle, Archbishop Udeme Simon of Great Faith Church, among other clergymen were there to moderate the service.
Rendering his amazing testimony, ATM in his own words said, ” I died, but I came back to life because God saved me by sheer grace.”
He stated that Governor Udom Emmanuel prayed for him during his visit at the intensive care unit and his wife, Dr. Martha Emmanuel spent three hours holding his hand in prayer.
I share and align completely with the expression of my buddy, Saviour Udoh, who in his birthday eulogy of ATM wrote: “Aniekpeno Tom Mkpanang has carved a niche for himself, defied every logic in the book of creativity, set an unassailable standard for excellence and cemented his place in World of Creativity.
This creative Ukanafun Son is a valuable asset to his generation and will be source of inspiration to generations yet unborn.
Therefore at his demise, his head should be preserved for generational viewing in a museum.”
Happy Birthday Mr. Something to Remember! Happy birthday ATM!