Killi We Nwachukwu - The Strongman With A Soft Heart
By Iwedi Ojinmah 12 days ago
He was a sight to behold.
Barrel-chested and wearing swimming trunks he was a cross between Tarzan and a black Charles Atlas.
To us as school children growing up in the mid-'70s and early 80' he fascinated us with his prowess and Sampson like strength.
I remember seeing him at Santa Maria in Aba and though I have forgotten if we paid 20 or 50 kobo I can tell you, it was worth it.
Though not much has bee written about the man behind Killie-Wee we do know that he was born in 1932 in Oboro Umueze Ogwa in Mbaitolu LGA of Imo State.
We also know that his nickname Killi We was coined as a result of a very comical event.
As the story goes, the strongman who moonlighted as a part-time truck-pusher was being cheated out his regular fare by another 'tough guy' in the area. Killi We insisted on the prearranged fee and a fight ensued - and by fight we are being generous to the 'tough guy'.
Nwachukwu had soon pinned the scoundrel to the ground prompting the man's wife to run to his aid wielding a pestle. Before anyone could say Abracadabra, Nwachukwu snatched it from her, lifted the woman up and pinned her on top of her husband on the floor. Powerless, she started screaming, "You go Killi We Nwachukwu" meaning in pidgin, " Nwachukwu you will kill us!"
The rest is history
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Some of his legendary feats of strength included lifting buses, having cement blocks crushed on his head, carrying up to 20 students at one time and allowing cars to drive over certain parts of his body. He also pulled cars with his teeth.
But the most enjoyable feat for us kids was when he would engage the entire school in a game of tug-of-war which we were never able to win. The only time we came close, he let the rope go claiming sweat got into his eyes, causing us all the collapse into one happy pile of amusement. He really loved putting on a show for us kids and we loved him back. He was as good as an entertainer as he was strong.
There would eventually be others that came after him like Power Mike, Isuochi the Lion of Africa and Giant Alakuku but Killie-We was the prototype on which everything was based.
He was so popular that Seven-Seven the famous songster and Masquerade coined a song for him and if my memory serves me right, it went like this:
“Killi We Nwaozize Nwachukwu
Abeg make you help me carry my load”
It's a simple plea for Killi We to help you carry the burden of a heavy load and we all sang it, from children schlepping heavy buckets of water from the tap to traders hurrying with their goods to the market.
Killi We died a successful man living up to the promise he made to all his children - namely that none would endure hard labour as a source of income. He educated all, with his oldest son leading the pack and becoming a prominent lawyer.