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Oko Kalu (who on baptism added the name John) was
born about 1924 at Ndi Anya village in Agbo Igbere
Autonomous Community. His father was Kalu Okocha
(Snr) and his mother Uzoaru Kalu (nee Agu Oke) was
born at Ndi Agwu also in Agbo.
He attended the Roman Catholic Primary School for
three years which at that time was located at a spot near
the Eke Igbere forest. To go to school then was seen as
a pastime of the lazy, stubborn or the “lowly-born”.
He left school in 1934 to live with a relation, CHIEF PETER ANYUNKU MADUKWE of
Umukwum Agbo as an apprentice trader and house help. They were at Omoba for a
year before moving to Nbawsi in 1936. Here John Oko Kalu left his master according
to him "on principle" He stayed with another Kinsman from Akwuruota in Amaukwu,
late Dick Uche in 1942 before proceeding to Aba a year later to fend for himself.
He started dealing on a brand of thick handwoven clothing material known locally as
"Egere-bita". With Aba as his base he travelled to Onitsha, Lagos. Port Harcourt and
Calabar. He was also into Produce Trade under the name J .0. Kalu and Brothers
buying and selling such commodities as Palm Oil and Palm Kernels. Garri. Yam etc.
This took him to the Norther Towns of Makurdi,Jos. Kaduna and Kano. In 1959 he,
with his friends, Messrs E.E. Agwu (of Amaofufe Igbere) and I.A. Ijioma of Ibinaukwu
formed a partnership that pioneered the importation of second hand clothing in the
then Eastern Region, doing business with several United States based Textile
Companies such as Messrs Dempsey Trading Company Inc. and Romarrovsky
Textile Incorporated New York.
The Civil War and the treachery of some of their rivals brought to an end their textile
business. However, he was able to rebuild his one-man business in 1986 through a
fund deposited in his name at the Central bank of Nigeria.
SOCIAL ACTIVIST/COMMUNITY LEADER:
John Oko Kalu, and other patriots were instrumental in the resuscitation of Age
Grade System in Igbere Clan. In 1972, youth of contemporary age bracket with John
Oko Kalu formed the OHABUIKE AGE GRADE. He was the founding Member of Agbo
Igbere Improvement Union (now Agbo Igbere Development Union) and was for twenty
five years its National President. He was also the Chairman, Agbo-na-Eziama
He was the Treasurer of Igbere Welfare Union, and during his term when Chief (Barr)
E. E. Ukaegbu was the Branch President, IWU embarked on the reconstruction of the
Igbere Hall, 60 Tenant Road Aba; to include a shopping center. He was a member of
the building Committee of Igbere Secondary School, a prime mover and financier in
the construction of Igbere Post Office at Onu Ibinaukwu and donated to Igbere by
Ohabuike Ebiri age Grade.
John Oko was a pionier member of Okaa Society now renamed The Peoples Club of
Nigeria. A man widely trusted even by his detractors, a social activist who hardly bear
grudges against even those who criticize him openly. Chief John Oko was made a
Chief with the title Odozi Obodo 1 of Igbere in 1990 by the Clan Head, HRH Eze
Samson. U. Ukaegbu. Also out of gratitude, his people of Agbo Igbere conferred on
him another title of Ome Udo 1 (Peace Maker) of Agbo.
His generation regarded the enlarged family as one and indivisible despite the
polygamous colouration of such families. Chief John Oko Kalu is married with several
This profile is updated excerpt from Who's Who in Igbere (Volumn 1)
Igbere Progressive Association International, Inc.