WHAT THE PEOPLE SAY
... those who knew him personally

As a Priest….

At Nnewi Parish (1938 - 1939)

No Rev. Father was as good as Fr. Tansi and Nnewians so loved him that when his transfer was hinted to them they rose in unison to object to it… Neither the Catholics nor anyone else spoke ill of him.
-  Philip Anajemba

Fr. Michael was the most hard-working of all priests who ever lived at Nnewi and he hardly ate because time spent at table could be utilised in doing some work. He was regarded as a living saint. He never distanced himself from the people. He worked even with the women scrubbing church floors… He was sympathetic beyond compare to the destitutes. He rendered financial aids to them from his meagre tithes. He fed those brought to the mission, especially the sick…. Repaired thatched churches with men, scrubbed the floor with women. He had no leisure hours.
-  Pius Unachukwu

Nnewians abhorred lepers more than anything. But Fr. Michael sent prepared food to them through me. those who received his food were Matthew and Ayagbakwuonye, lepers. He built homes for the destitutes from the proceedings of his tithes and Mass sayings.
-  Anthony Uchendu

I used to prepare foodstuffs given by Fr. Tansi for Matthew Orueh, a leper. Nnewians dreaded lepers more than any dreadful disease…yet Fr. Tansi inspired such unflinching faith in me that I agreed to give prepared food to Matthew. I did not contract leprosy, despite my long contact with Matthew. Fr. Tansi also gave Matthew medicines. Fr. Tansi ministered to him at his death.
-  Emily Anajemba

To promote the trade of the poor, he bought the worst articles from them…he put on the worst footwears.
-  David Asoh

Fr. Tansi waived A.M.C. for the poor and their children received baptism free.
-  Helen Esotu

There was one very cherished letter, which saved my vocation. It was when the seminary moved to Okpuala in 1946. A change of scene is always unsettling, and many seminarians were leaving. Someone said to me. "If you leave you can still be a good Christian…" I decided to write to Fr. Tansi. I decided that if I didn’t hear from him on a certain day, I would go and tell the Rector I had decided to leave. His letter didn’t come; usually he didn’t waster time answering letters. On the last day I had allowed, the letters were distributed, and there was his letter. "Dear Stephen, How do you know that this inclination is not from the Devil? If you think you have no vocation, pray for one." All my difficulties vanished, and never returned.
-  Archbishop Stephen Ezeanya

Rev. Fr. Tansi, as an Igbo man, had an advantage over all the white missionaries. He explained religious doctrines better than any Rev. Fr. Had ever done.
-  Augustine Onwugbenu

 

At Dunukofia Parish (1940 - 1945)

It was a bad bush, where people threw those who died bad deaths, such as lepers. If you went past it at night, you used to see mysterious lights there. When the Bishop wanted land for a mission site, they gave him the bad bush. They thought anyone who went there would die. The first thing Father Tansi did was to gather the Christians. He tucked up his soutane, and went through sprinkling the whole place with holy water. When they saw that he came out again, they entered the bush and cut it down.
-  Cyril Onwuachu, in Dunukofia

When I got there, I saw a few dilapidated mat (i.e. thatched) houses, not a single good house. Those wretched houses left a very poor impression on me. he was living a wretched hut — it would not be good enough for my chickens today — one mile from the main school where I was to teach. When I had reported, I asked for accommodation: "Where am I going to live?" He looked at me and quoted the Bible: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." He said: "Why are you worrying about where you are going to live? You have been located here and God will provide a place when you come.
-  P. N. Okeke

He could get anybody to work for him. Anytime he went to work, he simply came out on the road and called anybody he saw, pagan or Christian, man or woman. They shouted: "Father, I will work for you…". He pulled off his shoes and came to work himself. He would take the mud himself and make mud blocks. He didn’t want to stay still, he would do everything. He would start, and people would say: "Come and look at this type of Father" and be ready to join in. He helped in cutting the bush.
-  Cyril Onwuachu

He got the whole town united…. He got each village at work on a building. Even pagans and elders came along. The elders and titled men would come and supervise the work, as a sign of respect and love…".
-  Bishop Godfrey Okoye

He planned and built houses, he would turn his hand to anything. He taught us seminarians how to paint. He taught us how to polish a table, really polish it, and make it shine.
-  Archbishop Stephen Ezeanya

Father Tansi wanted everything to be the best possible for God. He wanted the best school, even the best flowers.
-  P.N. Okeke

He gathered the orphans and started feeding them and took care of them and sent them to school. He didn’t want them to stop schooling. If there was no money, he would still take a person to school. Some of our children later became teachers. It was his handiwork.
-  Christiana Odenigbo of Umudioka

He gave me the special privilege of eating with him at table which was usually not possible in those days. He didn’t want to do like the others who kept aloof from those they considered not "high-ups". When were eating, he said to me:
"Goffrey."
"Yes Father."
"Will you make me a promise to do whatever I ask?"
"Of course, whatever you ask…."

(When the time came to fulfil the promise, Godfrey found that he was supposed to occupy the outstation’s only bed.)

I shrank at the idea and said: "Never, Father, never." In those days such a thing was unthinkable. He looked at me and said: "Did you not promise to do whatever I asked you?"
-  Bishop Godfrey Okoye

One day I was fighting in our village with one boy and the next morning he warned me about that fighting which he was not present at the spot…. Very small time pagan will…ask, do you reach or can (you) see like Fr. Tansi? That no other Father will do or be like Tansi. That he died but his doings have not died…in their mind.
-  Gabriel Udegbu of Umunnachi

I take him as a prophet for all things he prophesied are happening now.
-  Cecilia Okafor

He was always so full of joy, his smile welcomed everyone he met.
-  Archbishop Stephen Ezeanya

One day he had a transfer. He had just prepared Dunukofia, built the church, then the transfer came. He said: "This change, the cross of life (afufu uwa)…" The merit is not in not feeling pain but in accepting it.
-  Brother Michael Okoye

 

At Akpu/Ajalli Parish (1945 - 1949)

He used to get up at about 3 a.m. and move as quietly as a cat.
-  Archbishop Stephen Ezeanya

There was no way of knowing what time he woke from sleep. He was always the one to tell you to ring the bell. He was always ready already…. Others would go for a siesta. Father Tansi would rest for a short time, but you wouldn’t know when he sneaked into the chapel.
-  Gabriel Okafor

I never saw him have any leisure, such as going for a walk…. He never went away for a weekend to visit another Father, or went to a house simply for a chat.
-  Gabriel Okafor

I suffered a lot with him in the bush. We would stay where wild animals stay, without a house. He would preach, and people would beat ekwe to announce his presence. He told them to build a resthouse and a kitchen. We would start to form a church. At Okpeze, there was very thick bush. We opened it. There was no house, nothing. I suffered a lot with the Father. I didn’t sleep; I watched our loads. Ozuofia, Okpeze, Akpugo; they had no churches, he established them. He would go there, and they would make an improvised shelter, right in the thick of the bust, from palm nuts…. The mosquitoes were terrible. He didn’t mind. He was stronger than any man.
-  Lawrence Ibe, of Ugwu Umuagu, Ufuma

With mud, he built different houses and dormitories for young girls…while others were boarders going to school. There was a model house built of mud, and with a zinc roof. The floor was designed (according to him) like a draught-board and was always mud polished in red and black. Young girls were meant to plan their houses to look as beautiful. This was something extraordinary; to have simple village houses look very attractive….

These wonderful houses, training centres, that Father built up do not exist any more. They collapsed only a few years after his transfer to his home town, Aguleri. These homes, schools etc. were mostly of mud block and so disappeared. It is now like a fairy story. But since I, like the others, lived in those houses, worked there, I know that they did exist during his time. Now they are farm land unfortunately, dead and lifeless, where life and activity used to reign supreme.
-  Sr. Mary Aloysius (nee Virginia) Adimonye, of Nawfia

He was a man who doesn’t look money in the face. He hasn’t got it, but he can get it. At Akpu/Ajalli he would start a house with a single strip of zinc for the roof, and then start a collection. Everything you see at Akpu/Ajalli is the result of his work in his few years there. He would go and carry the stones himself, and then the others would go and help. If there was clay to be shifted, he would say: "This is my area, and you do the rest." He made sure he did his own area.
-  Mons. William Obelagu

At times he looked like a living skeleton. When Umunze school was under construction, he took some oranges up to the carpenters and he was so frail that he was almost blown off by the wind.
-  Gabriel Okafor

He used to break his fast, particularly during Lent, with roasted yam. His boys used to take turns in roasting yams for his breakfast. Once he called on me to roast a piece of yam that neither too big nor too small. I chopped off a piece of yam, placed it in the fire, and went about other duties. When I came back to turn the yam, the whole piece had been badly charred by fire. It was already time for his breakfast. I knew not what to do. After thinking for a while, I put the charred piece on a plate and put a cake of solid palm oil on another plate, (for he ate his meal only with crude and solid palm oil) and placed the plates on the dining table. I stood by so as to explain why the yam was burnt. But instead of calling for an explanation why the yam was burnt, he ate up the whole piece. The next day he again instructed me to roast yam for him. Again the piece was burnt. From this time on, I was in charge of roasting his breakfast.
-  J. U. Jiendu

At any time of the day or night, if a sick call came, he was ready to go regardless of any sickness at all, and never stopped to ask, as some people do, what the sickness was. He would be here, and hear a cry, and suspect that someone was dying, and be off at once. Once we were in Enugu Abor from Ufuma, and we were going back at night — he was on a bicycle — and we hear a cry, and he told me: "You continue on home, but I must go and see if I can help.
-  Gabriel Okafor

When people came, he gave them the rice, yams, etc. which he had been given when on tour. Sometimes he bought cloth and kept it to give to the old women who couldn’t provide it for themselves. He gave them rice, yams and so on, too. If he saw someone who was dirty, he gave him soap. Sometimes I cooked a chicken. He took a small piece from the wing, and gave the rest to poor people. He knew which ones had no meat. They would come and greet him to see if had anything for them. He would give them what he had.
-  Lawrence Ibe

In all Orumba, no one will have anything bad to say about Father Tansi; he never committed any sin. If prayers make people go to heaven, the prayers of Orumba people, and especially Ufesiodo parish, since his death, will send him to heaven.
-  Rosaline Nwokike

He practised obedience to authority in the highest degree you can think of. Not one word of criticism ever passed his lips, no matter how he was mortified. If he was told to change stations, he would immediately get his box and begin packing that very minute. He would go immediately and secretly, not letting the people know he was going. When he left for Ajalli, he packed his things and stole away quietly so that there could be no send-off. If anyone came and said: "What is the reason behind this transfer", he would immediately begin to defend authority.
-  Bishop Godfrey Okoye

He went uninvited to pagan families, and exchanged views with them…. Half-Catholics, pagans and polygamists seemed to be his best friends because he was after the "lost sheep".
-  Adolphus Ifejiofo

 

At Aguleri Parish (1949 - 1950)

"If I were left to do my will I would have done all in my power to prevent my transfer to Aguleri. If your will was wrought, you would have left no stone unturned to prevent my transfer to Aguleri. Now that the will of God is clear, that I must work in Aguleri whether I like it or not, let us bear with one another."

He told me that coming nearer home, and hearing complaints from his two brothers and their wives — they had no issue — the problem kept coming up and these things were distracting him. He felt that he shouldn’t ask his Lordship to send him to another place. Since his Lordship had thought it out that he should go to Aguleri, it would be a bad thing to ask why.
-  Daniel Ilozo

He denounced syncretism and backsliding with fearless intransigence. A court clerk told him: "Son of our people, take it quietly." (Nwa di beanyi, weli nwaayo). Michael answered: "All that is buried must be unearthed" (Ife enile na ani aga aboghesi ya oghe.)
-  Mons. Peter Meze

To the Man of his people