ForeverMissed
In memory of our beloved Ijeoma Uche-Okeke, born on November 18, 1972, and passed on September 1, 2022. We will remember her forever.



"I live my life according to how I view what is right or wrong. I love my family dearly, and my friends who are close to my heart I treasure. I wish I could do more."
- Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke



A Celebration & Thanksgiving for the Life of
Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke
The Uche Okeke Legacy & Family in partnership with the Asele Institute & Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA)
The Market Photo Workshop Auditorium, Newtown, Johannesburg
29th September 2022
16h00 – 18h00
Live Stream 4.00PM (SAST)



Up until her death, Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke was the Chief Executive Officer of the Asele Institute, a cultural institution founded by her late father, master artist and scholar, Uche Okeke, in Nimo, Anambra state, Nigeria in 1958. 
If you would like to make a financial contribution or support the family, please visit the link below for more details 
Salma & Loren Uche-Okeke
Standard Chartered Bank
USD account number: 0005904059
Naira account number: 0005904042
OR
Zelle: confluenceofhopengr@gmail.com
Cashapp: $ConfluenceofHope

OR
Go-Fund-Me - https://gofund.me/c6e1fb3b

Thank you


Funeral arrangements will be announced 

Posted by Chinwe Uwatse on September 30, 2022
Dear Ijeoma, heaven's new angel.
I remember the first time I met you...
You were a bright eyed, curious and chatty eight year old. You and Ifeoma were a "tag team" in those days.
Over the years, you became a genial warm woman, with a captivating, caring personality. You always made out time for personal contact, reaching out to meet and greet, at every given opportunity.
I choose to cherish happy, warm snippets of memories you evoke.
Ije, Ijeoma, Good Journey to the House of God.
I pray that the Good Lord gives all your family, especially your Mom and your daughter, the fortitude to bear your unexpected departure from this earthly realm.
Sleep well Ijeoma We all miss you.
May you rest eternally in the light of God.
Posted by Nkeiruka Orebiyii on September 30, 2022
Ijeoma, I knew you as a baby, then a toddler and a little girl while we were growing up in UNN Nsukka campus. Our parents were firm friends and we all who came from Nimo had a tight little circle including the Ikemes and Akubues. Ifeoma was also my sister Ejiaka's best friend so I saw you growing up. In recent years I have been in daily touch with your Mum and Ifeoma and was so glad to know of your joyful strides and dear Thembi.
I thought my eyes were seeing double when I read the text from Aunty on the morning of the 2nd of September and I wished deeply it was some sort of error but alas it wasn't.
Being much older than you and having seen your recent vibrant outing at Iwalewa House this was never what we could have envisaged.
However at the end of all days we all will know why it had to be this way. We must all take consolation that no spirit is older than the other and that the Almighty who is All-Knowing will only permit what is best for each human spirit. As we mourn because we love and miss you we must remember that in the great Circle of Life there is a joyful reception in the beyond for you.
May the Lord grant succour to Aunty, Ifeoma, Chuma and Chindo. All will be well with Thembi, love surrounds her.
May your path, Ifeoma Loren Uche-Okeke be lit up with love.
Amen
Posted by Ikenna Ikeme on September 30, 2022
Ijeoma (Obele), as I called you, it has been so difficult to get myself to write a tribute. Coming to terms with the reality of your passing to be with the Lord and then just thinking about writing a tribute have been so difficult. I start writing and then stop, asking myself if this is real.

Being age mates and childhood friends, we had a special friendship which was filled with laughter, fights and simply just trying to make fun of each other. I believed I had a way with words and could use any situation to make fun of anyone but you always beat me to it when I tried doing the same to you. I always had to be fully on guard with you because you never hesitated to give it to me with equal measure anytime I tried to make a jest of you. You had the skills to respond immediately like you had been waiting for me.

After you moved to South Africa, I made it a duty to visit you whenever I was in J’borg. From eating Naija food at yours and then going out to dinner on numerous occasions, it was always fun being around you. I remember you always asking me to bring chocolate coated malted biscuits whenever I visited and the lovely time my wife and kids had when we visited you in 2011/12. Once I ate one pack before it got to you and I wished I hadn’t after you gave me a mouthful though of course it was filled with lovely words. With time it seemed you got tired of the biscuits because you just stopped asking for it. You had a great sense of humour and never hesitated to make me realize that you were a few months older than I was, so I had to give you ultimate respect.

In 2019, which incidentally was the last time I visited South Africa, we unfortunately couldn’t get to see each other because our schedules just wouldn’t let it happen. I still have the voice note you dropped for me, giving me a piece of your mind for not doing enough to make sure I saw you before I left for Nigeria. I have listened to it so many times over the last few weeks and tears fill my eyes just thinking that I will never get to hear your voice and laughter again. I will cherish that voice note all my life because it is a special memory of you. I ask that you please forgive me for not making that visit happen. I could have done more honestly

To say that I will miss you is an understatement. Your were my sister, friend and play mate. I know that you are resting with the Lord. You are simply just too beautiful and kind hearted for one to think otherwise. Memories of you will always be embedded in my mind.

Rest well my dear sister and friend.
Posted by Thabo Makgolo on September 29, 2022
A spark illuminated in each room you entered, your boundless joy, passion with which you lived and the love which you radiated dear Ijeoma is something I truly cannot imagine not having each day.

From our first hello, I cannot remember a time before that each day we did not lean on each other to make the impossible possible. I appreciate your belief in the vision and inspiration to dream bigger and do greater things than what’s expected.

To the Uche-Okeke family we may have lost a star like no other, I remain grateful though that she will illuminate the night sky each night . Rest I’m Power dear Ijeoma.

Thabo
Posted by Uche Onyia on September 27, 2022
Ijeoma, I’m still in shock about your tragic demise. I spoke to you after my visit to SA.
We both agreed when next I visit your city SA, you will show me some nice places. But, death snatch you away so soon. You didn’t even have the opportunity to meet my kids. You painted their bedroom walls with Little mermaid and winnie the pooh cartoon characters.

I remember, how we spent countless days in your house at University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN). You kept it impeccable clean, we cleaned up the bath tub after showing . 

You are truly beautiful inside and out! Generous to a fault and a perfect Lady. I morn your death Ijeoma and pray that God will give your family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. Heaven gained an angel!

Rest in the bosom of the Lord Ijeoma! Good night!
Posted by Ada Onyeagocha-Ogan on September 26, 2022
To the Uche-Okeke family-
This is so shocking! May Ijeoma's soul rest in peace. May you all be granted the strength to bear this loss. I remember IJ as calm, serious though fun loving as a kid with her droll humor. I was a frequent visitor to the Uche-Okeke home in our University of Nigeria Nsukka, as a good friend of her elder sister Salma. It has been a pleasure to watch Ijeoma flourish both as a person and professionally. She was special and she will be missed.
Posted by Michelle Nkemakolam on September 20, 2022
Dear Sister Ijeoma,

I am still in shock from the news of your death, it still feels like a nightmare that I am looking forward to waking up from. How sad death often steals away the people we loved and cherished on short notice. Alas! I was looking forward to inviting you to the next Afro Night Festival as we agreed on during the last exhibition in Bayreuth. Whoever met you even for a second would attest to how warm, kind and Optimistic you were, always smiling and creating memories whenever you can. I still recall how we gisted about Nigeria and living abroad. The minute you met me, you automatically assumed that role of a big Sister, a big Sister I still can open up to and joke around with... I will continue to keep the memories of our meeting in my heart and sincerely hope you rest in peace..
You will forever be missed and loved.. Adieu Sister Ijeoma.

Your Sister from another mother,
Chiamaka Michelle Nkemakolam
Posted by Uzo Onwuka on September 20, 2022
Dear Ijeoma,

The news of your passing is still like a dream to me... simply unbelievable!
Ijeoma gone ...just like that!.

You were a very warm soul, always happy, always smiling and exceptionally clean! Yes, ! I recall the times we stayed over in your house during our days at the University of Nigeria Nduka (UNN). How you’d ensure that each of us swept and mopped the rooms we slept in...and filled the drums to store up water, for when water finished in the tank. You were meticulous in most things you did, always wanting things to be done properly, in an orderly manner. Yes, you were a perfectionist!!!

Ijeoma you were a generous, caring and reliable friend. ! Your “Yes” was “Yes” and your “No” was “No”!. It’s been a while we chatted, but regardless of the passage of time and the distance, I knew I had a friend in you.

I mourn your passage Ijeoma, because you left so suddenly, but God the giver of life knows best...

Rest in perfect peace Ijeoma
Je Nke Oma!!!
Posted by If Any on September 19, 2022
Ijeoma, you left us too soon. I was scrolling through some of your videos the night of September 3rd only to wake up on the 4th to this sad and shocking news. The last time I saw you was a few decades ago at our Murtala Mohammed neighborhood. The rest of the family had left UNN but you were around completing your degree at the time. You always had a studious and focused aura about you. Years later, we reconnected on Facebook and I had the honor of observing the parts your life that you shared with us on Facebook. You lived such a vivid, devoted, artistic, and accomplished life, filled with the love of your daughter, family, friends and colleagues.
May your soul rest in peace.

My condolences to your family and loved ones.
Posted by Matilda Owusu-Ansah on September 15, 2022
I cannot believe that you left so suddenly. Barely a week after I submitted my thesis. We never met, but you were so supportive and accommodating. I was stuck with my work, but you were very positive and helped me to untangle difficult nuts. We became friends, and I was looking forward to telling you I made it.
Rest in peace, Ijeoma. Though painful, God knows best, and may He grant you eternal rest.
Posted by Richard Akolo on September 15, 2022
With a heavy heart,
I say May the good lord rest your soul.This is yet another sad tale but grateful for the time and ideas shared during that very short period we crossed paths.
You will be greatly missed and fondly remembered Ijeoma.
Posted by Ijeoma Ude on September 14, 2022
Ijay, am still trying to make sense of this. Just saw the news online and had to check the link...and lo and behold, it's actually your picture! OMG!! My heart breaks for your little Thembe, your sister Salma and your whole family. I am so sorry, I never really kept in touch after Gboko, we all do have circumstances at times and I sincerely hope wherever you are, you do understand. Goodbye beautiful Ijay until we meet to part no more.
Posted by Somtoo Chuka-Okeke on September 14, 2022
My dear sister and friend, I can't believe you are no more, the story behind your demise came to me as a big shock. life is too short, you couldn't even say goodbye, just left in a jiffy. Our dear princess, our prayer is that your good tidings will speak forth for you and May the almighty God accept you in His kingdom, till we meet to part no more. Adieu Ijele Nwanyi
Posted by Winsome Mashele on September 13, 2022
Dearest Ijeoma

I am still struggling to accept that you are no more. When will I ever stop starring at my WhatsApp, email hoping to receive a message from you. And nothing in particular but just to say “hello Winsome, you are too quiet and I hope you well”. This is devastating to me. You walk with me through my PhD journey until the end. You encouraged and prayed with me. Thank you my dearest friend for the love and support. You loved me unconditionally. May your soul rest in peace. You will be missed.

And to the family and friends:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” Isaiah 43:2

My deepest condolences ❤️.
Posted by Amaoge Obi- Ekwe on September 13, 2022
Ij We went to UNN then we lived in Johannesburg together. Our last conversation we had was you want to come back finally to Nigeria… We chatted at length …. What a rude shock to hear about your passing. May you continue to rest peacefully with the Lord. Amen. May our good God continue to uphold your family.
Posted by Julia Charlton on September 12, 2022
Wits Art Museum joins the art community in expressing our shock and sadness at the sudden passing of Ijeoma. Sincere condolences to her beloved family, friends and colleagues. She will be missed.
Posted by Binjun Hu on September 11, 2022
My dear Ije, these were words you said to me about your father: "I am a huge fan of my father. He was first and foremost a thinker, a change maker, a community person. He really cared about people.He was fearless in fighting for rights in the creative/cultural space.That's part of the legacy he left us". I think these words are for yourself too, your vision and spirit of will continue to shine in the future. To respond to your last message: I cherish you too! RIP. Sweet dreams
Posted by Bofu Ugbodaga on September 11, 2022
Dearest Ijeoma,
Never in this will world will I imagine your fire and determination will end on earth this way.
It was a shock and still is.
Will be hard to even think that when we gather here on earth in our ART Family you won't be there .
We take comfort in God at this time. And I pray he comforts deeply and strengthen your family and dear friends who have in one way or the other become your family.
May your Soul rest in Peace dear Sister. 
Posted by Oge Ilegbune on September 11, 2022
“It's my pleasure to meet Ona's mom. I was also looking forward to meeting you, but I am sure we will meet soon. My home is your home any time you are in Joburg please let me know. For what? I am certain you and Ike would do the same and more. I thank you for sharing your beautiful daughter Ona with me.“-June 2021

“COVID put a spanner in the works didn’t it? I envisaged more trips to SA and also meeting you and Thembi both….. one day. We can only be grateful for what we have and what is. So thank you so much Ijeoma ”.-June 2021

“Hello sweetie! I was thinking about you over the weekend. How are you doing? Yes o! Sweetie x 100. “- March 2022

“ I plan to visit home at the end of the year. I will let you know when I am coming. I can't come in without seeing all of you. It would be criminal.”- July 2022

“ Yes, all is well. I met Nkiru and her daughter a week ago. She's lovely. We are in touch.”- 18th August 2022

“Good morning, we are doing very well ”- 19th August 2022

“Have a beautiful Sunday” -21st August 2022

“Good morning”- 22nd August 2022

And then just like that you were gone, like a candle in the wind. I have listened to your voice notes, read your messages and recalled conversations from June 2021 to August 2022, and what has struck me is how your words were beautiful and not wasted. Each word, each nuance had a landing spot. This made engaging with you a rich joyful experience. I still can’t believe we never met physically, I so looked forward to giving you and Thembi big hugs and kisses.

You already knew Ike from years ago. And then you met Ona in February 2020 and a love evolved between you, Ona and Thembi that I was so grateful for.

We formed our virtual relationship some months later and taught me that intimacy( friendship, closeness) is not always about length of time or frequency, but about quality and richness and sincerity of the engagement. When people care and are intentional…..

Ijeoma you will not be forgotten. Thank you for all your very special ways, for making Ona, Ike and I feel truly special.

Someday our tears will dry, our hearts won’t feel so bereft and we will pass forward the seeds of love, kindness and generosity you sowed in our lives…..Dalu Nne. Be at Peace eternally Angel.
Posted by Obinna Okerekeocha on September 10, 2022
Ijeoma, words will fail me in describing how I feel
In this moment. I am completely lost for words even now as I write this. The moments we shared talking about the future and engaging in our artistic common interest, I will always fondly remember.

God knows best.

Rest In Peace.
Posted by duke onuoha C. on September 10, 2022
Dear Ijeoma, it's quite sad and heart breaking how you live without saying goodbye, we can't question God for he knows more than we do, continue resting in God's bosoms.

@Salma my good friend and all the Uche Okeke family, I sincerely empathize with y'all please accept my deepest condolences, it's well.
Posted by Tshepiso Mohlala on September 9, 2022
Dearest Ijeoma, You will indeed be forever missed. You came into my life for a specific purpose. I appreciate the role you have played in our 3 years business relationship. We shared a lot of personal and business relationship moments. You have fulfilled your purpose. May your Soul Rest In Peace. Tshepi
Posted by Jak Jak on September 8, 2022
No words can explain this.
No no, I cant type anything.
RIP
I wont see that smile any more but,
Continue smiling with the angles
Posted by Femi Williams on September 8, 2022
To a Beautiful soul in the Art space.

We are born into a world where time has no mercy.
One moment there is joy and harmony, the next, tears and sadness descends.
Whilst death is a certainty, nothing prepares us to bid farewell.
Your mortal remains may still be but your beautiful soul has bid goodbye.
Oh where ever thou maybe on your journey hence forth, may heaven's doors, open wide,
an Angel to welcome, an Angel as amazing, wonderful and beautiful as thee.

Rest on Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke.
Posted by Mba Kalu on September 8, 2022
Aijey, with rude shock as I come to terms with the unimaginable passing away of ijeoma Uche-Okeke. You were incredibly a strong woman who took things in her stride and stood positive till the end. May God grant you eternal rest and the family the strength to bear the irreparable loss. May deepest condolences. -Abragzas
Posted by Uju Ugochukwu on September 7, 2022
Ijeoma, I’m sad and shocked to hear that you have passed on. We were friends in primary school and even though we did not keep in touch, I still have fond memories of you. May the Lord comfort your precious daughter Thembi and all your family and friends. May your beautiful soul rest in perfect peace. Amen 
Uju Ugochukwu (nee Akubue)
Posted by Jacob Mati on September 7, 2022
Ijeoma, I am sad, devastated and without words to describe how I feel. I still hope that this is not true. You were a perfect Godmother to my daughter. Always checking on her and us. We have all shed tears on getting this sad news. I pray that God give us and especially your daughter and close relatives the solace to bear this. We will miss you.
Posted by Yvette Puchert on September 7, 2022
Our hearts are so sore Ijeoma! There are no words to describe the shock of hearing you had passed. We were just starting our journey together. We are committed to realising your dreams for growing the Uche-Okeke Legacy brand. Your flame will keep burning bright. Wishing the Uche Okeke family courage and love during this very difficult time.

Love,


The Artfundi Team
Posted by Clement Onyekadi on September 7, 2022
Dalu for being here with us in all these seconds ,hours ,months , years ,decades ,you did well Ada NKA ,your impact remains with us as you sojourn in the spiritual realm forever.
Posted by Clement Onyekadi on September 7, 2022
Like the words on the walls, we are the shadows of our dreams ,you came ,contributed all you have to in all capacity to keep the dream alive forever ,being cautious of time and seasons,the mother earth will always remember your presence here on earth as you sojourn in the spiritual realms forever.Thank you for impacting the Art work ,thank you Ada Ulo, jee nke oma, Ada NKA.
Posted by Tonderai Chiyindiko on September 7, 2022
We often quote the statement "the trouble is you think you have time" (Budda) without thinking, in this moment it rings truer and more poignantly than ever with your passing Ijeoma Uche-Okeke.

My friend, colleague and raconteur you used your time here wisely because you lived your life so passionately, loved (your daughter Thembi especially) so fiercely, laughed so heartily, worked so diligently (in the artworld and beyond) and left an impression on everyone you met/on everyone who was lucky to have encountered you during your time here.

Go well beloved friend, the gallery beyond awaits.

Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke was here
Posted by Sara Hallatt on September 6, 2022
My dearest Ijeoma, the news of your sudden passing entrenches even more something you once said to me. You said that we all had something to give and we must give it while we can. I never got to work with you professionally but your smile lit up the room and I loved your conversation. Go gently into that dark night my friend. We are a sadder world without you.
Posted by Nkiru Akpan on September 6, 2022
Hmm I'm in shock. This is hard to believe. We just met. Our mutual friend Oge introduced us, since we just arrived Johannesburg. She said I have a friend in SA her name is Ijeoma. I drove over to yours and we had a lovely time.
I still am in shock. My prayers goes out to your beautiful darling daughter Thembi, your family and friends.
Posted by iveren eno on September 6, 2022
Ijey, the news of your demise came as a rude shock. Thank you for the love and care you always extend to others. Will miss your chats. Rest peacefully in the bosom of the Lord as God comforts us all.
Posted by Maria Fidel Regueros-Wess... on September 6, 2022
Dearest Ijeoma...speechless at the news that I will not bump into you ...be welcomed with your smile and a warmth...that was so easy to embrace and so welcoming ... i will not forget you...and be warmed by the fleeting moments of remembrance! till we see each other... much much love, Me
Posted by Nwakaego Boyo on September 6, 2022
Dear Ijeoma,

Ije oma Nne
You will be missed
Your beautiful smile and warm bubbly personality

What a rude shock
My deepest condolences to the whole family and everyone touched by this beautiful soul
May we all be comforted
Posted by Nkiru Mena ajakpovi on September 6, 2022
Oh noooooppop

This is a shock. What happened?. I'm actually heart broken. Ijeoma????????

Lord have mercy  
Posted by Amaka Okoli on September 6, 2022
Rest in peace Aunty Ije. May God give your family the fortitude to bear this huge and irreparable loss. May this untimely demise never occur in your family anymore, Amen. . Rest on dear sister. We will miss you.

Goodnight sister!
Goodnight Ada Nimo!!
Goodnight Ezigbo Madu!!!
Posted by Chinedu Afigbo on September 6, 2022
Ijey,

Thanks for touching our lives so positively.
Thanks for the smiles and laughs.
Thanks for the labours of love.
Thanks for teaching us about friendship.
Thanks for exemplifying the true Ubuntu spirit.
Thanks for being your best.
All these will be missed, terribly missed.
Well, keep spreading joy on the other side.
Love ❤️
Posted by Vivienne Okey - Ngene on September 6, 2022
Ij, I'm still numb at the news of your sudden death. Still so strange really. Our memorable days in Nimo comes to me so clearly,it's heartbreaking!. The days on end when we played cards, and I and Tim ran around Asele much to the slight irritation of Late Prof. Uche Okeke (of blessed memory). How about my short holiday with you in Enugu which I still relish with so much joy and laughter. You were a big sister with a big heart!. You taught me how to act smart and be my self and taught me things down to observing personal hygiene. Our days in Nsukka also is impeded so much in my memory.

Our families were so close, and you never quite relented to keep in touch even when we 'grew up' and went different ways to build our own families in different places with you in SA.

You kept in touch and I remember your words in a familiar way telling me not to stay away. We did keep in touch because from your love for people emanates a certain degree of closeness to you. I will surely miss you Ij. I could go on and on but this is still so surreal. I need to take a breath to come in terms with it.

May God grant you eternal rest big sis.

Bivi
Posted by Chinwe Iyizoba on September 6, 2022
I am bereft of words for this shocking news of Ijeoma’s sudden death at 49. How can anyone imagine that a young woman so full of life with so much on her plate and a young daughter to raise would within just one week of illness depart this world so unceremoniously. A typical instance of the saying that in the midst of life, we are in death; very thin line between life and death. All is vanity, nothing but vanity. We are indeed in shock. Rest In Peace dear cousin. May the Good Lord grant Aunty, Thembz, Ifeoma, other direct siblings, extended Okeke family and us the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.
Posted by Prince Eno Bassey on September 6, 2022
I remember the first time we met at Wits University as post graduate students, then working together at the International Office as student liason assistants. Over the years we have remained friends or I even dare say you were like family to me. I am struggling to wrap my head around the news of your transition, I guess it was the will of the Almighty, but it is really painful. Rest in Peace Ijeoma.
Posted by Vivian Uwechie on September 5, 2022
I am utterly in shock by your unexpected departure Ijeoma. Just spoke to you about your father's amazing Uli art exhibition days ago. I don't know how to articulate my shock & grief. It is heart wrenching. Your life's journey especially one with the love of your life, your daughter Thembi has been a true love story. My heart goes out to Thembi. She gave you a purpose to be here on earth. I pray that purpose will give her the fortitude to continue living the life that you envisaged for her. As I try to pen my thoughts & try to rationalize your sudden departure I find it utterly irrational. I pray God shows me & all your friends & family a light at the end of this dark tunnel. I pray the spirit of our Great God enshrouds your family & the love of your life Thembi & all of us your friends to someday come to grips with your departure. Ije may our great God rest your soul. Sleep peacefully.
Posted by Nkem Umezinne. on September 5, 2022
Ije, I still find it difficult to believe you have passed on but the reality is dawning gradually on me. You had such a sweet spirit and good heart and always reached out to others to encourage and cheer them up at their low moments.
I feel pained because I barely knew you were sick and then the news of your death broke. I would have wanted to reach out to you and encourage you just like you would have done for others.
Rest In Peace Ijeoma. You will be truly missed.
Posted by Uchenna Eya-Ugwu on September 5, 2022
I am still struggling to understand this, Ijeoma. You left just like that. It's just a few days we had a conversation. It just seems so unfair. Well, just last night I was asking God to teach me to number my days. Your passing has just taught me. Nothing on earth is satisfying. Ije, you were such a beautiful soul, full of genuine concern for your friends. May our Lord reward your selflessness. I will miss you dearly. Rest in peace.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Chinwe Uwatse on September 30, 2022
Dear Ijeoma, heaven's new angel.
I remember the first time I met you...
You were a bright eyed, curious and chatty eight year old. You and Ifeoma were a "tag team" in those days.
Over the years, you became a genial warm woman, with a captivating, caring personality. You always made out time for personal contact, reaching out to meet and greet, at every given opportunity.
I choose to cherish happy, warm snippets of memories you evoke.
Ije, Ijeoma, Good Journey to the House of God.
I pray that the Good Lord gives all your family, especially your Mom and your daughter, the fortitude to bear your unexpected departure from this earthly realm.
Sleep well Ijeoma We all miss you.
May you rest eternally in the light of God.
Posted by Nkeiruka Orebiyii on September 30, 2022
Ijeoma, I knew you as a baby, then a toddler and a little girl while we were growing up in UNN Nsukka campus. Our parents were firm friends and we all who came from Nimo had a tight little circle including the Ikemes and Akubues. Ifeoma was also my sister Ejiaka's best friend so I saw you growing up. In recent years I have been in daily touch with your Mum and Ifeoma and was so glad to know of your joyful strides and dear Thembi.
I thought my eyes were seeing double when I read the text from Aunty on the morning of the 2nd of September and I wished deeply it was some sort of error but alas it wasn't.
Being much older than you and having seen your recent vibrant outing at Iwalewa House this was never what we could have envisaged.
However at the end of all days we all will know why it had to be this way. We must all take consolation that no spirit is older than the other and that the Almighty who is All-Knowing will only permit what is best for each human spirit. As we mourn because we love and miss you we must remember that in the great Circle of Life there is a joyful reception in the beyond for you.
May the Lord grant succour to Aunty, Ifeoma, Chuma and Chindo. All will be well with Thembi, love surrounds her.
May your path, Ifeoma Loren Uche-Okeke be lit up with love.
Amen
Posted by Ikenna Ikeme on September 30, 2022
Ijeoma (Obele), as I called you, it has been so difficult to get myself to write a tribute. Coming to terms with the reality of your passing to be with the Lord and then just thinking about writing a tribute have been so difficult. I start writing and then stop, asking myself if this is real.

Being age mates and childhood friends, we had a special friendship which was filled with laughter, fights and simply just trying to make fun of each other. I believed I had a way with words and could use any situation to make fun of anyone but you always beat me to it when I tried doing the same to you. I always had to be fully on guard with you because you never hesitated to give it to me with equal measure anytime I tried to make a jest of you. You had the skills to respond immediately like you had been waiting for me.

After you moved to South Africa, I made it a duty to visit you whenever I was in J’borg. From eating Naija food at yours and then going out to dinner on numerous occasions, it was always fun being around you. I remember you always asking me to bring chocolate coated malted biscuits whenever I visited and the lovely time my wife and kids had when we visited you in 2011/12. Once I ate one pack before it got to you and I wished I hadn’t after you gave me a mouthful though of course it was filled with lovely words. With time it seemed you got tired of the biscuits because you just stopped asking for it. You had a great sense of humour and never hesitated to make me realize that you were a few months older than I was, so I had to give you ultimate respect.

In 2019, which incidentally was the last time I visited South Africa, we unfortunately couldn’t get to see each other because our schedules just wouldn’t let it happen. I still have the voice note you dropped for me, giving me a piece of your mind for not doing enough to make sure I saw you before I left for Nigeria. I have listened to it so many times over the last few weeks and tears fill my eyes just thinking that I will never get to hear your voice and laughter again. I will cherish that voice note all my life because it is a special memory of you. I ask that you please forgive me for not making that visit happen. I could have done more honestly

To say that I will miss you is an understatement. Your were my sister, friend and play mate. I know that you are resting with the Lord. You are simply just too beautiful and kind hearted for one to think otherwise. Memories of you will always be embedded in my mind.

Rest well my dear sister and friend.
her Life
Written By Charlotte Ashamu, Advisory Board member, Asele Institute


Loren Ijeoma Uche-Okeke was the Chief Executive Officer of the Asele Institute, a cultural institution founded by her late father, master artist and scholar, Uche Okeke, in Nimo, Anambra state, Nigeria in 1958. The Asele Institute houses an important repository and collection of contemporary African art. Ijeoma assumed her position at Asele in 2019 developing the organization’s board, exhibitions and programs. Her drive and determination in preserving her father’s legacy and championing African artists by further developing Asele into a global institution was groundbreaking. Ijeoma’s leadership propelled Asele into creating both a non-profit organization and a family-run business enterprise, the Professor Uche Okeke Legacy Limited. In 2019, she co-edited and initiated the re-launch of Uche Okeke’s seminal book, “Art in Development – A Nigerian Perspective” published by Iwalewa House at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. She also co-curated a major exhibition at Iwalewa House “We will now go to Kpaaza” featuring selected works of Uche Okeke, which opened in 2022. 


Ijeoma was a dedicated leader in the arts and culture sector for over 15 years. In South Africa, she served as a Manager at the Visual Arts Network of South Africa and at Gallery MOMO, and as a Project Coordinator at !Kauru Contemporary Art Project where she managed a range of local, regional and international artistic programs. She worked as a cultural researcher, participating in key research projects for numerous organizations including the European Union and the British Council. She was the South African editor of Omenka Magazine and provided editorial and transcription services to MA and PhD students at the School of Arts, Medical Faculty and Business School at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Ijeoma also served as an independent consultant to various organizations across the visual arts sector, academia and mainstream media. 


Ijeoma had an active civic life. Starting in 2012, she was a volunteer at the Princess Alice Adoption Home in Johannesburg, providing babies and children with caregiving and food on a weekly basis. She served on the Board of the Visual Arts Network of South Africa and was a member of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy Alumni Association and the University of the Witwatersrand Alumni Association. 


Ijeoma graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1992 with a BA with honors in Fine and Applied Arts. Following an early career in Lagos, Nigeria, where she served in roles at the Musical Society of Nigeria and the African Foundation for the Arts, she attended the University of the Witwatersrand from which she earned her MA in Heritage Studies and a postgraduate diploma in Arts, Culture and Heritage Management. Ijeoma also earned a postgraduate diploma in 2008 from Bard College’s Centre for Environmental Policy, receiving a fellowship through Bard’s Learning Across Borders program funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

By Charlotte Ashamu, Advisory Board member, Asele Institute
Recent stories

Ijey; Mood lifter

Shared by Ike Ilegbune on September 6, 2022
It was my first visit to South Africa, and my great friend Chikwe, and his family, hosted a BBQ in my honour and invited their Jozy crew. I'd heard of Ije, this artsy, strong but sweet lady, but I had no recollection of ever meeting her even though we would have been contemporaries at different campuses of the University of Nigeria. 

We hit it off quickly, almost like we'd been old friends. And just before she announced she was ready to leave, we exchanged numbers. But there was one last ritual to perform beforehand: pictures.  Another friend, Imoh, whipped out his camera as Ije readied herself, and just at that moment, Imoh's wife, Laura, stepped up to take a picture with me at the poolside. 'We need a full shot o!' she shouted across to hubby. As he stepped back, I thought it wise to do same. Big mistake. I ended up in the pool fully dressed and with both my phones in my pocket. 

After the laughter abated, and I'd swiped a change of clothes  from my hosts, I re-emerged to find Ijey still there. We never got that picture, but we got much more. A close friendship with a truly genuine soul, who came to love my family and care for my daughter whilst she boarded in Jozy almost a decade after. 

Calling my daughter this morning to inform her that Aunty Ijey was gone was one of the hardest things I've endured. We are devastated. Death couldn't have come for a wronger person and at a worse time. This is hard to rationalize. 

PS: We got our photo much later...in 2020, just as the Almighty ordained it. And we both had wonderful daughters to share that moment with. 

God rest you dearest Ije! You will always have a place in the collective hearts of my family and I. Forever. 
Shared by Ejiro Onobrakpeya on September 6, 2022
The Uche Okeke children were a recurrent part of the Onobrakpeya children's childhood. Our dad's were best of friends from their University days and our mums too were close. Ijeoma was a great girl, very confident, always talking with a smile on her face as she engaged me in diverse topics. In our adulthood our interactions became more intense. We had common backgrounds and passion and we saw from time to time to discuss. Recently, I wrote an article about Asele Institute and she called me to say she did not know I wrote so well.I liked Ijeoma! Now I hear she passed on. Shock is an understatement about how I felt. But I never asked why. Thank you for being my friend Ijeoma. Greet Uncle Uche and other loved ones on that side. Goodnight Ijeoma.