“First West African Four-Generation Sheets,” Ensign, May 1981, 105–6
First West African Four-Generation Sheets
When Earl R. and Dixie Olsen returned to Salt Lake City in February 1981 from their year’s mission in Nigeria, they brought back two firsts with them: Elders Samuel E. Bainson, 24, and Benjamin Crosby Sampson-Davis, 23, the first missionaries from West Africa (see Ensign, Apr. 1981, p. 78) and also the first four-generation sheets and family history from that section of Africa.
The Olsens served their mission in Enugu, Anambra State, Nigeria, replacing Frank and Clora Martins of Salt Lake City. When they left, there was one branch of twenty-three members in that city and about ten other branches in the surrounding area that they visited. Following instructions relative to their mission, the Olsens spent a great deal of time teaching converts to “thoroughly understand the principles and practices of the Church.”
Some of those members are Jude I. Inmpey, president of Imo District, his wife, Mary-Emelda Ibe, and their children.
“The Nigerians are very family oriented,” explain the Olsens, “and when we talked with them about genealogy, temple work, and family history, President Inmpey became very excited. He took some sheets home and brought them back filled out. He took a month’s leave from his work as technician at Enugu’s post and telecommunications department and visited all of the villages where his ancestors had grown up, interviewing his relatives and filling out his sheets.”
All of these records are oral because the government began keeping vital statistics only in 1960. Many of the records were incomplete until recently. “But they have wonderful memories,” the Olsens marveled. “We saw one branch president sit down and fill out seven generations, just from memory. The disadvantage, of course, is that if the person who has memorized the genealogy dies before he has a chance to teach someone in the next generation, it’s all gone.”
President Inmpey’s genealogy contains names like Lolo Awaziama, his paternal great-grandmother, and Nnamodu Akpuka, his paternal grandfather. They come from towns named Atta Ikeduru and Iho lkeduru. And the dates go back as far as 1803.
In his life story, President Inmpey relates how he was born 24 July 1927, just a month after his father died. His father died partly out of disappointment and sorrow from the deaths of Jude’s older brothers. “In our native philosophy,” he explains, “a family is deemed cursed if there is not a sufficient number of male children or none at all to make the family lineage a factor to be reckoned with in social and political circles.” (Jude Igboechieonwu Inmpey, typescript manuscript, Genealogical Archives, p. 1.)
Orphaned at the age of eight, young Jude was raised by an aunt and educated by a cousin who was a schoolteacher, eventually becoming a schoolteacher himself. “Realizing so early in life the importance of education, I was determined against almost insurmountable obstacles of finance and maintenance to keep on with my elementary education to the end.” (p. 2.)
In 1946, Jude entered a Catholic seminary with the goal in mind of eventually becoming a priest. However, troubled by certain “doctrinal concepts,” he counseled with his bishop and prayed for two weeks. At the end of that time, still troubled, he and his bishop decided that he should resume secular life for some time.
In 1954, he married Angelina Egemu, a former schoolteacher, and they became the parents of eight children, three of whom died in infancy. Angelina died in 1966. “The loss was so great that I thought I could not overcome the problems,” he relates, except with the aid of “constant prayers” and the assistance of his wife’s family. (p. 3.) In 1969, he married again and he and his new wife had four children, but differences led them to divorce in 1976. In 1978, he married Mary-Emelda Ibe and they have since had two sons.
“On the 9th of May 1979,” he relates, “I went to renew my vehicle insurance certificate and there met an European couple [Americans Rendell and Rachel Mabey] who was there on similar mission.” They explained their mission, gave him some pamphlets, and made an appointment to meet him that evening. He went to the appointment, resolved “to disprove the Authority Theory to preach the gospel but became convinced of the truth in my investigations.” The pamphlets “made more sense to me than all the other doctrines and dogmas I have been reading all my life … in search of the truth, and when I found ‘It’, it was as clear as October noon-day to me.” (p. 4.) Two months later to the day, he and Emelda were baptized and confirmed.
“When my present condition of real living is contrasted with what existed before I became a member,” he writes, “I am absolutely convinced and bear my testimony that this is a restored church of God and Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. … I look forward to the day I shall go to the Temple for my temple marriage and sealing and perform endowments for my late ancestors.”