That’s the way she would respond; the first line for the girls and the second line for the boys, every single time we said “Mummy, good morning”.
She would ask if we had woken up; in her calm undulating voice. And it would come with a smile, even if you had fallen out with her the previous night.
My Mum’s smile, the way her face would light up whenever we walked into her room. It was like switching on a light bulb. She might have been pondering on something moments before any of us walked in but as soon as that person entered, she turned on that smile.
“Mmmaaa mu na nwanne m o!”
She would say, calling us her siblings, spreading out her arms and wrapping us in a warm hug. This was usually when we arrived from a journey, be it from school or anywhere.
She would then peer into your face, squinting her eyes as if trying to read behind the facial expressions and I’m certain in our older years, she also examined our facial skin for conformity to her beauty standards.
I remember when I had a serious case of pimples in University, it was my final year and I think I probably reacted to an adulterated Face Wash I bought from the market.
My Mum’s reaction was something else, she would constantly examine my face and worry that the pimples weren’t clearing despite the products she gave me to use. At a point she openly wondered if the ‘pimples were as a result of a spiritual attack to prevent her daughter from getting married’ LOL. Like I’m still laughing, thinking about it at the moment.
Well, I got to Lagos after graduation and my sister, Chika gave me something that helped clear the pimples.
She would chant in a sing-song voice while greeting my first son, Ikem. She would again refer to him as her sibling and also add ‘Brother’ a sign of respect and probably spirituality I think. I never asked her why she called him that, we would just laugh over it.
As part of the Igbo burial rites, a woman’s body was usually taken to her Father’s compound to be shown to her people before it would then arrive her own compound for lying-in-state and burial.
Chants of “Oo nwanne m o! Oo nne o! Oo nwanne m o!” filled the air as the casket bearing my Mum’s body arrived her Father’s compound. It was such an emotional moment as they paid final respects to their sibling and daughter and watching the whole scenario brought back memories.
Memories of a voice we were blessed to have heard and of precious moments that we’re grateful to have experienced.
THE LIFE & TIMES OF LADY BENEDETTE UGWUNWA EZEANYA (nee ENECHUKWU)
Lady Benedette Ugwunwa Ezeanya was born on the 4th of April, 1959, the third child out of eight children of Late Mr. James Obumneme Enechukwu and Late Mrs. Elizabeth Onyemaenu Enechukwu (nee Okeke), both from Uke, Anambra State.
Her father, a devout Catholic, a business man of integrity and the then Treasurer of St. Dominics Catholic Church, Uke would set the pace for her outstanding commitment to the service of the Lord and her regard for humanity throughout her lifetime.
Young Bene like most children of her age loved to go to school. At the age of 5, she attended St. Michael’s Primary School, Fegge, Onitsha. Her secondary education took place at the Young Women Technical College (YWTC) and Regina Paecis Secondary School, all in Onitsha.
Her dear father, James Enechukwu would pass on when she was about 12 years old, but his legacy lingered as she and her siblings would proudly introduce themselves as James Enechukwu’s children “Nwa James Enechukwu” at any given opportunity.
Lady Bene’s love for knowledge and for formal education reflected in her lifelong quest for it as she continued schooling; attending the Teachers Training College, Obosi and later on, College of Education, Nsugbe after she got married and had children.
She would later on go back to school to obtain further education at about the period she became a Grandmother, efficiently combining this with taking care of her daughter and first grandchild.
All through her life, she resounded the importance of education to her children, her domestic helps and every young relative or person who came to close to her. Several times, she would go out of her way to help them get quality education. Such was her belief in the ability of education to improve someone’s standing in life.
Lady Benedette got married to Chief Sylvester Ifeanyi Ezeanya in 1976, and they had their white wedding in 1978. Together they bore and raised eight children.
Through her years of child bearing, her tenacious personality and her go-getter qualities would shine through as she kept pursuing her education, maintaining her commitment to the service of the Lord and to her various business interests as well as contributing her quota to helping her husband run his businesses. He would fondly refer to her as his adviser.
Lady Benedette Ezeanya was an entrepreneur and a business woman who worked hard and taught her children the virtues of hard work. Her business interests included high-end clothing fabrics, car paint, automobile refurbishing and accessories. She was a person of integrity, ethical in her business dealings and she earned the respect and trust of many clients and business partners.
A kind hearted woman who was easily moved by the plight of others, Lady Benedette Ezeanya always left people better than she met them. She gave generously and would visit the Motherless Babies Homes to make donations. She was always ready to help her relatives, taking special care of her beloved Mum and her grandparents too. She would always assist the needy, usually going the extra mile to help people solve their problems.
Lady Benedette Ezeanya though a disciplinarian was a peace maker and tried to maintain peace in her home.
She was full of life and she loved to look good. She was one person you could count on to turn up at an event being organized by her family or friends. She was an active participant in every community she lived in at Onitsha and also in her hometown Uke.
A lover of the arts, Lady Benedette Ezeanya was a storyteller, dramatic in her narratives and pulling in her listeners as she painted vivid pictures of different scenarios, punctuating with songs, chants and ululations where relevant.
She loved different genres of Music both local and international and at a point in her life was an active member of the choir.
Lady Benedette loved to dance; she belonged to several dance groups in the Church through her lifetime, participating actively in creating and releasing new dance steps and until her demise was among the leaders of her CWO Band Group.
Most importantly, Lady Benedette Ezeanya was a God fearing woman who took her Christian faith seriously. She believed so much in God and in prayers, and would usually be found in her room with her rosary, uttering prayers to God. She rarely missed the daily early morning Masses and she raised her children to love the Lord and to fear him, ensuring they attended prayers daily in the Block Rosary Crusade. The Lord Almighty showed her mercy and gave her the opportunity to reaffirm the Lordship of Jesus over her life before she took a bow.
An astute leader; Lady Benedette Ezeanya belonged to, and led several Christian organizations in her communities both in Onitsha and Uke where she had the opportunity to mentor several young women. These include:
St. Anne Chigozie Women’s Group, St. Dominic’s Catholic Church Uke (Former President)
C.W.O St Dominic’s Catholic Church Uke, Onitsha Branch (Assistant ChairLady)
C.W.O St. Michael The Archangel Community, Our Lady Queen of All Saints Catholic Church, Federal Housing Estate, Trans-Nkisi (Treasurer)
Faith Alive Sisters’ Prayer Group, Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha
C.W.O St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Federal Housing Estate, Trans-Nkisi
Daughters of the Holy Spirit, Adoration Ministry, Federal Housing Estate, Trans-Nkisi Chapter
Nne Di Uso Women’s Club, Uke
…and several others.
Fondly called “Abe Ndi Uwa” by her grandmother, “Fashion Madam” or “Fashion Mazi o” by friends and family, “Mama Ifeyinwa” or “Lady B” by her husband; Lady Benedette Ezeanya would be fondly remembered for her simplicity, humility, down-to-earth, approachable and friendly personality.
She will be deeply missed by family and friends.
Thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling,Only remembered by what we have done.
I’ve written quite a few posts on the blog referring to Mum, my ‘about me’ post mentions her storytelling as setting the pace for mine and I also mentioned her here.
Recently, on June 29th, 2019, 2 days after my 35th birthday, my Mum passed on.
Despite the fact that she was sick for a while, her demise was not at all expected. Funnily, after she had gone and I wasn’t yet informed, I put up a post on my family WhatsApp group that “I’m praying” and “It’s well with Mum“. LOL
It is indeed well with her as she had the opportunity to declare the Lordship of Jesus over her life and affirm her forgiveness of everyone who had offended her before she passed on. Glory! (Romans 10:9-10)
So while we do not mourn like those who do not have hope, yet we mourn… because we indeed lost a dearly beloved Mother and a pillar of support.
Storytelling for me has always been an avenue of heartfelt expression and in times of pressure, a form of relief.
At this time, I’m telling the stories as a form of memorial to my Mum and also as a part of my healing journey or coping with her passing.
I’m grateful to the Holy Spirit for his comfort for my entire family and we know that God has caused all things to work together for our good.
This has been a while coming and I’m glad that finally, I’m able to start.
So today, I launch a new category on The Storytela…
My two year old son had just given me a typical Naija response, something you need to know if relating with Nigerians or visiting Nigeria. Or, do I say Africa? Well, I speak for my country.
I had called out to him and in his light slightly high pitched voice, he answered “I’m coming“.
I waited. Nothing.
He answered, “I’m coming Mummy” but continued with what he was doing. It was then it hit me.
It’s typical of Nigerians to say ‘I’m coming’ in response to being beckoned but still take a little time to finish up a task at hand or even go in an opposite direction, with the intention to return later.
Or someone could stand up to leave a room and say ‘I’m coming’ while they actually meant ‘I’ll be back’.
I remember on another occasion, he kept walking away, stopping intermittently to say ‘I’m coming Mummy’. Something I’ve done to them on quite some occasions.
I’ve tried to check myself sometimes, and I’ve agreed that I would use the right terms like ‘give me a minute‘ or ‘I’d be back‘ or ‘give me some time‘ but then it seems that ‘greater is the I’m coming in my programming than my efforts at a change’.
I’ll let it pass for the kids as an additional Naija flavour. No need fighting to change what I’m guilty of.
Right in the 19th century expansive palace of King Toffa, in Porto Novo, Bénin Republic lies a room which nobody enters till date.
The many chambers of the palace
We had just arrived Bénin, our first stop was at Porto Novo, Le Musée du Palais Honmé.
The tour guide was quite detailed and we had an interpreter from GOTA tours who translated into English.
King Toffa who built this palace had about 120 wives and was quite instrumental in allowing the both Christianity and Islam co-exist with the traditional Voudou religion.
Now, one of the rooms the Tour guide showed us was the ‘dark room’ marked with signs saying ‘do not enter’. We asked why it was called the ‘dark room’ and he told us that Kings would usually go in there to commit suicide. This was quite alarming.
He explained that different poisons and objects for suicide were kept there and a King who probably lost a war and didn’t want to be captured would go in there, drink the poison and then step out of the room and die.
Statue in the courtyard
The King needed to die outside as nobody was permitted to enter that room even if it was to bring out a corpse. Interesting, isn’t it?
The feeling of despair that makes one commit suicide. Choosing to end it all instead of spending one more day in confronting the situation.
Bringing it forward to the 21st Century, one question to ask is, is suicide really worth it?
Considering that there’s a life after this world. Whether we believe in this life or not doesn’t mean we would not experience it because there’s more to a man than the body we see or the mind we think with. There’s a spirit inside the body that would continue to exist in the spirit realm after the body dies.
So if suicide just kills the body, what becomes of the spirit? The real you?
Suicide starts from a thought, that lie that says ‘just escape, end it all and it would be over’.
The truth is ‘would it?’
Don’t wait to die to find out. Get help.
The fact is, no matter how dark or bad things look, they can still change for the better. Keep your hope alive.
And if you don’t know what else to do, close your eyes and say ‘Jesus, help me’. It might sound ridiculous at first but keep saying it and help will come in ways you can’t even imagine.
And like the sign outside the dark room says, do not enter the Suicide room please.
Need help overcoming those suicidal thoughts?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in visiting Bénin Republic?
Indicate in the comment section and I’ll link you up with a tour operator.