Ikechukwu Maximus Ugwuoke, National Welfare Secretary Aspirant of Nigerian Bar Association received a thunderous ovation from members of the Unity bar, the Abuja Branch of NBA when he informed them that he is also known as “Hakuna Matata” during his introduction and greetings to the bar at the branch meeting held on 12th May 2022. Fielding answers to the questions from newsmen who interviewed him on why he is called Hakuna Matata after the meeting Ugwuoke said: “Well, the words ‘Hakuna Matata’ are etymologically Swahili language which means ‘no worries; be happy’.
“Hakuna Matata seems to have taken over my proper names amongst my friends and acquaintances. It all started about ten years ago when the spiritual director of Adoration Ministry Enugu, Rev Fr Ejike Mbaka delivered one of his sermon titled ‘Hakuna Matata’ during one of his ministry’s programme in Enugu in 2012. That year, I was to contest the office of the social secretary of the NBA of my branch , the Enugu Branch.
I so much cherished the title and content of the sermon that I used it as the heading of the Campaign poster I printed for the election. On the day of the election I also came to the branch election venue with a box that has the inscription ‘Hakuna Matata’ on its sides. During my introduction before the voting started, I informed the members of the branch that all I wanted to achieve if elected as the social Secretary of the branch then was to make them happy and forget their worries and that the packages I have for this were inside the Hakuna Matata box I was holding, of course, it was fun and the mother of my manifestoe that made me win the election. From that point on, all the lawyers in the branch who didn’t know me before then started calling me Hakuna Matata.
Initially I was worried that it was taking over my proper name such that if someone is asking most lawyers about me in Enugu and you mention my proper name Ikechukwu Maximus Ugwuoke only few lawyers would agree they know me, but just mention Hakuna Matata and almost all will tell you ‘yes we know him’. Fr Mbaka seems to have popularized the name the more as he too has continued to address me as Hakuna Matata till date instead of my proper name.
My regime as social secretary of the branch was really an Hakuna Matata regime for the lawyers with lots of stress- relieving programs we had then for lawyers some of which included, walk for life, getting comedians to liven the branch dinner etc.
‘Originally the name of the law firm I founded about that time was ‘El-Maximus Ugwuoke & Co, breakthrough Partners ‘. But due to my popularity with the name Hakuna Matata, I had to add ‘Hakuna Matata Chambers’ to the firm’s name during its registration to reflect my identity.
Ugwuoke further narrated. “At the last Enugu monthly Bar meeting when I informed the branch of my submission of Nomination form for the position of the National Welfare Secretary of NBA, one senior lawyer Okwuliehe Esq asked me about the Hakuna Matata Box. I simply told him that the content of the box has been reviewed to encapsulate the Maximum Welfare which is my vision for the NBA that will be unsealed at National level of the bar when the time comes. He could not contain his laughter” Ugwuoke commended the unity bar for the privilege they give him during the meeting to address them and interact with the members of the branch who gave him a good treat during the meeting.