Good Night Prof David Ker Denor

By Godwin Tsa

Good people die everyday. Yet not all of them affirm for us the goodness in humanity and leadership the way Prof. David Ker Denor did. He passed away and left a legacy of positive experiences for anyone who took the time to know him – which wasn’t a hard thing to do. 

Most likely you don’t know him but you can learn from the legacy he left.I have asked myself a thousand times why a good man like Professor David Denor Ker should bite the dust. 

I have probed effortlessly for answers why the best brains of our land should become food for idle termites. No answer came from any mortal man but God did. Yes! He who knows the answer before the question answered me in the book of Psalm 116: 15; “Precious in the eyes of God is the death of his Saint (Psalm 116:15). 

For those that believe, death is not a defeat after all but a passage to the golden gate. For those marked with the cross of Christ, death frees us from the bondage of earthly misery.

But death has stung me twice this year in a way and manner that has left me devastated in my mortality. The first salvo was on May 17, 2021, when the clock in the life of my cousin, Mr. Samson Atov (May God bless his soul) stopped to tick in his prime. He was only 37 years- old with a promising career.

 Now, just 90 days into the dark memory of his exit, the second salvo has been unleashed on me. In search of comfort, I found solace in the scripture where Apostle Paul wrote; ” O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1Corinthians 15: 55).

My understanding of the above edifying and encouraging soliloquy from the great Apostle is that God has, by grace, promised those that trust in his son, Jesus as Saviour the most astonishing riches of His grace and inheritance in His glory, but without the death of our Lord Jesus Christ as payment for our sins we would never have experienced these joys and without the resurrection of our Lord, the power of death and hell would not have been broken – but Christ’s glorious resurrection from the dead is the unfailing assurance of our hope of glory – in Christ. ALL that God has promised to ALL His children is as sure and steadfast as the sovereignty of God Himself.

Paul tells us that if Christ had not risen from the dead then our faith in Him would be in vain – but He DID rise. Christ rose from the dead and showed Himself to many hundreds of witnesses – and His resurrection is the First-fruit of all those that are asleep in Him.

Christ’s triumph over the grave is heaven’s pledge to all of us, that are members of His body, that we too will be raised. Our perishable bodies will be replaced with imperishable bodies – our mortality will put on immortality. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

From the fall of Adam, death has claimed many captives. But Christ burst from the fetters of death for the grave had no hold on Him – He brought captivity captive – and we who have been made a new creation in Christ, have God’s assurance that we are a part of that heavenly company.

Although our path crossed only once in my lifetime, it was an impactful moment that will live with me forever. Before then, I have only read about him, listened to him and saw him from afar. 

He was a great teacher, but never taught me in any of his lecture hall. I also did not read any of his lecture notes throughout his flourishing career in the Ivory Towers, where he rose to the pinnacle. 

However, our meeting in Abuja was impactful. It was at the Hilton hotels, where I went to cover an event as a Journalist, that we met for the very first time. But what shocked me was his humility and simplicity. As as soon as I introduced myself to him, he exclaimed, “ok, you are the Godwin Tsa? I enjoyed one of your recent article in the Sun Newspaper. I like the poetic devices deployed in it, keep it up.”

He told me he was now with Veritas University, Abuja, a private university founded by the Catholic Church, and I should feel free to visit or call. I came out of the assignment a fulfilled and proud journalist with my head swelled up. Do you know what it means for a Professor of the English language to commend your work? I asked rhethorically.

 I went out home and read through the article over and over to be sure it actually merited the professorial approval. In the article in reference, I painted a lurid picture of the insecurity in the country and the failure of state actors to put it under control.

Since that encounter, Ker and I struck a father/ son relationship, until his demise. His humility was exemplary. I had promised to visit Prof. Ker and his family for an interview but failed.

Sadly, I won’t see him again. But we share the hope that never dies. He was a firm believer in Christ and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead when the professor and I would walk through the golden gate.

He hewed his career path across the rock by dint of hard work. He never cut corners to get to the top. He was a self made man, a true patriot, a teacher par excellence, who never exploited his students for pecuniary gain. He devoted his time and energy to promote learning, sowing in thousands of people the seed that will never die. He was a leading light among men, and died as a father of many accomplished sons and daughters that passed under his tutelage.

This tribute will not be complete without looking at his intimating records and background . Professor David Ker Denor was born Seventy Years ago, in Mbabur, Ngyohov District of Masev, Gwer East LGA of Benue State.He attended Mt St. Michael’s Secondary School, Aliade from 1964-68 before moving to St. Louis College Jos, 1969-1970. A graduate of the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria with a Bachelor of Arts B.A English, with second class upper division in 1974.

He holds a Masters of Arts (MA) from the University of Sussex, the United Kingdom in 1978 and a Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.) in English Literature from Stirling University 1984, United Kingdom, Honourary Dr. of Literature from Grand View College, Des Moines, Iowa, the USA in 1991.

Prof David Ker was two times Commissioner for Education, Benue State from 1994-1997. With over forty (40) years of teaching experience both as a Lecturer and University Administrator, Professor I. Ker rose from various ranks at the University Ibadan (UI) Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (ABU) and Benue State University, Makurdi, (BSU) respectively.

The versity Don became the Vice-Chancellor of Benue State University in 2000 and was named the best Vice-Chancellor of state-owned universities in Nigeria in 2003. During his tenure, the university was adjudged to be the best in North Central, Nigeria. 

Prof David Ker’s administrative sagacity also led to his appointment as the pioneer Vice-Chancellor Veritas University, Abuja. Professor David I. Ker has authored many books and has many publications at National and International levels. 

Prof. Ker’s penchant for human development earned him a Federal Government merit award as the Officer of the Order of Niger OON, among others. In the year 2015, Prof. Ker aspired to govern the good people of Benue state under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party – PDP, in as much as he had the people’s acceptability, his aspiration could not see victory at the polls.

Professor David Ker was recently appointed by the President, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari as the Chairman, Visitation Panel of Modibbo Adama University, Yola, Adamawa State.

Prof. Ker is happily married to Professor Beatrice Ker, a Professor of Counseling Psychology with Benue State University, Makurdi, and the union is blessed with four children.Good night Prof David Ker, till the morning of resurrection