NATIONAL SALUTE TO A TACTICAL NATION BUILDER: CHIEF ALBERT KORUBO HORSFALL AT 80 YEARS
by Godknows Igali, PhD
Though much constrained by professional norms to a life of near anonymity and subdued social exposure, the great national service of one of Nigeria’s ace security professionals, Chief Albert Korubo Horsfall who is also a key witness to the Nigerian story, even as he joined the ranks of octogenerians on 22nd December 2021 remains sparsely told. The significance of Horsfall’s service though in the peculiar dimly setting of his vocation, was the fact that he leveraged on his profound knowledge of the country and its people to impact on national peace and integration at different levels. A lifetime intelligencer, he is today, a traditional aristocrat among the Kalabari sub-group of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, an active figure in the effort at peace in the Niger Delta and a vocal voice in framing the country’s democracy.
A DESCENT OF KALABARI HERALDRY
Horsfall’s call to duty traces its roots to a family tree of service in prestigious positions in defense and commerce. Buguma his hometown in Rivers State had for the past two hundred years become noted as one of the main commercial entrepôts was in the forefront of what the British, called “Legitimate Trade”. This form of commerce started as an alternative to Transatlantic Slave Trave when it was abolished in 1807. His town is also the seat of the traditional authority of the Kalabari Kings and people dating back to the 1550’s. The town has also been a centre of social and cultural life especially in the interaction between the various peoples of the Niger Delta and the South-East hinterland. Buguma, in recent times, also raised such Nigerian celebrities as Prof. Tam David West, Highlife King, Cardinal Jim Rex Lawson, great footballer Taribo West, frontline actress Hilda Dokubo. In general, very progressive Kalabari people boast of producing some of Nigeria’s first set of Western educated elites.
The peculiarity of Horsfall’s life lies in the fact that his own immediate family traces its origin to a fiery warrior, Chief Omekwe, who was one of his Kalabari’s most celebrated knights in shining armour. Omekwe who founded the dynasty during the late 18th century, was considered the foremost Admiral of Kalabari war fleet, at a time when national strength was determined by gunboat diplomacy. He therefore left his progeny with a DNA of soldiery strands; recognizing the worth of service to community amidst a background of geo-strategic consciousness. Young Albert Horsfall’s engrossment with a lifestyle of regimentals was further aided by being nurtured by his uncle, Alex Horsfall, who at the time was a senior personnel in the colonial service in the divisional headquarters at the nearby town of Degema. At a very young age therefore, he became exposed to service, order and uniform; interacting both with Nigerian and British officials.
THE CALL TO SERVE AND THE NIGERIA POLICE STORY
After completing his Primary school at Degema, he went to Christ School of Commerce, Onitsha for his secondary education. Horsfall’s family background is one of relative affluence garnered from their active mercantilist pursuit and control of the palm oil trade. Many expected therefore, that like his several kinsmen, and indeed as was the case with the Kalabaris in general, he will join, euphemistically speaking, the seeming pitting of wits to proceed to the United Kingdom to further his education. On the contrary, in 1962, at the tender age of 17, he opted to join the uniform service being the Police Force of the infant Nigeria state. Like his contemporaries who were among those who joined the Nigeria Police Force, professional training was organized by British Officers following common ordinances and manuals imposed on the entire former colonies around the world.